There are many different types of yoga styles. So how do you know which one is best suited for your needs? Would a rigorous style help you lose weight? Or do you want to practice yoga for a more spiritual experience? The answer to your question “How many different types of yoga are there?” is below. Read on.
Yoga is an old philosophy that originated in the Indian sub-continent. Yoga asanas are the exercises that one does to achieve a fit mind and body with a combination of breathing, postures and meditation.
In the past 100 years, several types of yoga styles have evolved around yoga asanas to achieve different purposes. Some people do yoga to get their mind and body in sync, others merely enjoy the workout.
Types of Yoga Styles
Take a look at some of the most popular types of yoga:
1. Hatha Yoga
If you’re completely new, perhaps Hatha yoga is the place to start. Classes that offer this style usually introduce you to the basic postures. It is slow: You hold an asana for longer than in other styles, mostly stretching your body and getting used to the idea of a yoga asana.
With some amount of pranayama (breathing techniques) incorporated into the session, Hatha yoga focuses on bringing the mind and body to stillness through movement.
2. Vinyasa Yoga
Classes on Vinyasa yoga are generally fluid. Using the ujjayi breathing technique, a Vinyasa workout will take you through asanas that focus on certain parts of your body. Synchronising your breath with your movements, it seamlessly takes you from one pose to the next, keeping you on your toes.
It helps strengthen your muscles while it quietly works on your mind through controlled breathing. Since no two classes are ever the same, and because it requires constant movement, it’s a great choice for people who like being up and about.
3. Ashtanga Yoga
Developed by Pattabhi Jois who took the style to the West in the 1970s, Ashtanga yoga is one of the popular types of yoga styles across the world. It is similar to Vinyasa yoga in that it coordinates your movement with your breathing. However, unlike in Vinyasa yoga, you will do the same poses in the same sequence every time, making this a great workout for those who prefer routines.
Ashtanga yoga is great for building stamina and flexibility, detoxifying the body and realigning the spine as the asanas you do are vigorous.
4. Iyengar Yoga
One word to describe this yoga style: Alignment. The idea is to maintain an alignment of the head, spine, hips, and feet while practicing yoga. It is strenuous, as once you achieve a pose, you are required to maintain it for a few breaths.
Poses include both sitting and standing ones, and often the use of props such as pillows, chairs and blocks for support. This makes it great for people looking to remedy a situation: chronic illness, obesity, or just plain lack of fitness.
5. Jivamukti Yoga
Combining asanas with chanting, meditation, pranayama and music, Jivamukti yoga can be an intense, yet spiritual experience. Developed in 1984 by two Americans, the type of yoga style focuses on themes that are underpinned by compassion and kindness.
Jivamukti yoga aimed more at developing a certain philosophical outlook to the life than achieving fitness. It could be explored by those seeking direction in their lives.
6. Bikram Yoga
Three decades ago, a man named Bikram Choudhury came up with a yoga routine of 26 poses performed in sequence. But your yoga mat is not all you require for this class. Bikram devised a type of yoga practice, a routine for an artificially heated room, where you sweat it out at 40% humidity.
If you’re willing to sweat profusely as you exercise strenuously in the heat for 90 minutes, it’s a great way to exercise, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. It improves blood circulation and flushes out toxins from your body while helping you build muscle.
7. Kundalini Yoga
If you’re the sort who places the mind over the body, this could be your thing. Kundalini yoga aims to activate your chakras (energy points on your body) by blending asanas with chanting, breathing techniques, and meditation in prescribed repetitions.
The spiritual experience and rigorous exercises are great to uplift your mind and body.
8. Pregnancy Yoga
This helps mothers-to-be get through the aches and pains of pregnancy, not to mention the stress involved. Hour-long exercises are designed based on your stage of pregnancy. Exercise routines involve stretching to relax your muscles, and relieve the strain on your back and hips.
This set of asanas help increase blood circulation, which can help with pregnancy-associated swelling. The accompanying breathing exercises can help during labour. Make sure you consult your doctor before beginning these yoga asanas.
9. Power Yoga
Developed in the 1980s by Bryan Kest and Beryl Bender Birch, this is a hardcore workout for fitness enthusiasts. With a routine of strenuous asanas that follow each other without pause, power yoga gives your body a thorough workout.
While helping to build your muscle tone, it also increases cardiovascular circulation. This would be a good fit for runners and endurance athletes.
10. Restorative Yoga
In a highly stressful world that involves constant rushing around, restorative yoga might just slow you down enough to catch your breath. And they’re not kidding about that. All you do in a restorative yoga class is slow movements: You get into your postures slowly and steadily, and hold them for even as long as 20 minutes!
Using props for support while you perform the asana helps in reducing the stress on your body, allowing it to relax and re-energise. While anyone can opt for this style, it could be beneficial to people with injuries or those recovering from illnesses. It calms the body, lowers your heart rate, and rejuvenates the mind.
11. Yin Yoga
Developed by martial arts expert Paulie Zink in the 1970s, Yin yoga focuses on developing tissue rather than building muscle. Holding each pose for five minutes or longer helps apply moderate stress to the connective tissue – tendons, ligaments and fascia.
Yin yoga is a good way to slow down for those with a fast-paced life. It is also beneficial for those who wish to improve their body’s flexibility. However, people with connective tissue disorder must avoid this style.
Initially, yoga asanas might seem like a bunch of funny poses, as you struggle to maintain your balance. But once you get the hang of it, it could be the bridge that connects your mind and body. So, now that you have learned about different types of yoga styles, find the nearest yoga class and take a step towards your yoga journey.