Most Popular Types of Yoga Explained
One of the biggest obstacles to getting started with yoga is figuring out what style of yoga you want to try. It is often confusing for beginners because the class names and options are too broad.
While almost all styles use the same physical postures, each has a particular emphasis. This tip sheet highlights the differences so you can determine which type is most attractive to you.
Of course, the best way to start yoga is by taking beginner classes. If your local study does not indicate which classes are geared towards beginners, ask ahead of time which class will provide adequate basic instruction for someone new.
If you're looking for videos online, look specifically for beginner-level classes; Almost all online yoga video platforms allow you to search by skill level.
Just keep in mind that if you don't enjoy your first yoga class, that doesn't mean you and yoga aren't meant to exist. Since there are so many different styles of yoga and so many different instructors with their own teaching approaches, it may take a few tries before finding the right fit.
Given the many benefits of regular yoga practice, if you don't initially like yoga, try several different classes before you completely dismiss it.
Different styles explained
You can try to identify your yoga type or find out what your yoga personality is to see which of the following styles is best for you. There are many to choose from, but don't let that intimidate you. Try a beginner class before branching out (if you like).
Hatha is a very general term that encompasses any of the physical styles of yoga. In today's yoga jargon, hatha has come to mean a gentle and slow way of practicing. Hatha classes are often a good place to start a yoga practice because they provide an introduction to basic yoga poses in a low-key setting.
Like hatha, vinyasa is a general term used to describe many different types of classes. Vinyasa tends to be a more vigorous style of yoga that incorporates a series of poses called sun salutations, in which each movement corresponds to the breath.
A vinyasa class usually begins with a series of sun salutations to warm up the body and perform a more intense stretch at the end of the class. Vinyasa is also called flow, referring to the continuous movement from one pose to the next.
Founded in 1997 by John Friend, Anusara combines a strong emphasis on physical alignment with a positive philosophy based on a belief in the intrinsic goodness of all beings. Classes are generally fun and accessible, often with a focus on opening the heart.
Unfortunately, Friend is no longer associated with Anusara due to his personal indiscretions. Anusara is now a teacher-run yoga school and Friend started a new style of yoga called Sridaiva (see below).
Ashtanga is a fast-paced, intense, and fluid style of yoga founded by Pattabhi Jois in the 1960s. A series of poses are performed, always in the same order. This practice is very physically demanding due to the constant movement from one pose to the other and the emphasis on daily practice.
It was one of the first styles of yoga adopted by a large number of Western students and has had a great influence on the evolution of yoga over the past 30 years.
Baptiste Power Vinyasa
Baron Baptiste is an innovator of power yoga who studied many different styles of yoga, martial arts, and meditation before creating his own unique method of yoga, Baptiste Power Vinyasa.
His style is based on 5 pillars: vinyasa, ujjayi pranayama, heat, uddiyana bandha and drishti. Classes, held in a heated room, are often intense and sweaty.
Bikram / Hot Yoga
Hot yoga was started by Bikram Choudhury, whose name has become synonymous with yoga classes taught in a room heated to 95-104 degrees. The heat facilitates the loosening of tense muscles and heavy sweating, which is believed to be cleansing. The Bikram method is a series of 26 poses, but not all hot classes make use of this series.
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