If you’re considering picking up yoga, go ahead and hit the mat because you won’t regret it. This bendy ancient practice has health benefits that extend wayyy beyond the physical (though the upper-body perks aren’t half bad).
Whatever type of yoga strikes your fancy, know this: The science-backed results are applause-worthy.
A 2013 national survey found that more than 55 percent of people who did yoga found it helped them sleep better. A 2018 survey, meanwhile, linked practicing yoga regularly with better eating and exercise habits. What’s more, a 2019 Journal of Psychiatric Practice study concluded that yoga and breathing exercises can improve symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Kerry Maiorca, RYT, board chair of Yoga Alliance and founder of Bloom Yoga, has witnessed these benefits firsthand in many of her clients. “Right now, at this moment in time, the mental and emotional benefits are huge,” she says.
The tricky part is that because there are so many different types of yoga, it can be a little tough to figure out where to start. “Yoga is a very personal practice, and no two students will find the same path,” Maiorca says.
Not sure whether to go straight for vinyasa or give kundalini a try? Here’s everything you need to know about yoga—and the differences between the most popular types out there.
For starters, what is yoga?
“Yoga is a mind and body practice with an ancient Indian history and philosophy,” Maiorca explains. (It’s thought to be around 5,000 years old!)
Since yoga has been around for so long, many styles have developed. One common thread, though: They all combine physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation or relaxation. The goal? “To promote improved control of the mind and body and enhanced well-being,” Maiorca says.
Got it. So, what are the different types of yoga?
If you’re not quite sure which yoga vibe will work best for you, check out this breakdown of the major types.
1. Acro Yoga
This hybrid style of yoga originated in the US in 2003 and was developed by interactive group workshop guru Jenny Sauer-Klein and Jason Nemer, a dancer and a yogi.
What practice looks like: This type of yoga is done with a partner and combines acrobatics and yoga to create a fun, healing form of exercise.
Who might like it: People who enjoy partner workouts.
2. Aerial Yoga
Aerial yoga (also calledor antigravity yoga) was created by dancer and choreographer Christopher Harrison, who established Antigravity, Inc., an acrobatic performance troupe that inspired what is now aerial yoga.
What practice looks like: You’ll ditch the yoga mat for a silk hammock suspended from the ceiling and perform all of your poses from that hammock. You’ll still flow through many of your typical poses and sequences (think cat-cow, camel, warriors) and may even find yourself upside down at some point during the session.
Who might like it: People who want to give their upper body an extra challenge (and like Cirque du Soleil).
3. Ashtanga Yoga
Ashtanga means “eight limbs,” which Pantanjali, author of the Yoga Sutras, described as the eight aspects of the path to overcoming suffering, explains yoga teacher Erica Tait, RYT, certified Reiki Master and Yoga of 12-Step Recovery leader. Some of those “limbs” include postures, breathwork, concentration, and meditation. “The purpose of Ashtanga is to build heat in the body in order to purify the mind,” she explains.
What practice looks like: Ashtanga Yoga is a physically demanding form of yoga made up of six series that progress in difficulty and have a specific order of poses, Tait says. You can expect to use “ujjay” breath (an audible breathing technique) throughout the practice to root yourself in the present moment. You’ll synchronize movement with your breath as you flow from pose to pose in order to reach a meditative state.
Who might like it: For yogis who enjoy consistent structure and want to move at a more dynamic pace.
4. Hatha Yoga
Hatha is more of generic term for the classic branch of yoga. You can trace its origins to Gorakhnath (around the 11th century), and even as far back as Patanjali (2nd century BCE or 5th century CE).
What practice looks like: This practice is all about the basics. You’ll focus on physical postures, pranayama (or breathwork), as well as your mind-body-spirit connection. You’ll move through a sequence of poses, holding each for a few breaths and then moving on to the next with the goals of increasing strength, flexibility, physical relaxation, and mental concentration.
Who might like it: People who want a more traditional yoga experience or are trying yoga from the first time.
5. Hot Yoga
Hot yoga hails from Bikram Choudhury’s Bikram yoga, in which you move through a 26-pose sequence in temperatures above 100 degrees. Today’s hot yoga is similar in that the temperature of the room is often scorching, however, you’ll move through fewer poses (but still torch major calories).
What practice looks like: These classes involve practicing in heated rooms (temperature varies from studio to studio).
Who might like it: People who are really looking to sweat it out and burn calories. One study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that women burned an average of 333 calories during 90-minute slow-moving, heated yoga session.
6. Iyengar Yoga
Iyengar yoga is a very meticulous kind of yoga developed and popularized by famous yoga teacher B.K.S. Iyengar. Iyengar emphasizes putting detailed attention on finding the proper alignment in a pose and mastering each posture.
What practice looks like: Unlike other classes, this type of yoga doesn’t flow through lots of poses. Instead, you’ll use props like blocks, straps, blankets, and chairs to settle into therapeutic poses.
Who might like it: This one’s great for newbies still trying to master the poses and people who have an injury or chronic pain.
7. Kundalini Yoga
Kundalini yoga originated from ancient meditative practices in Hinduism thousands of years ago taught to royalty and nobility. The practice is often referred to as the yoga of awareness, Tait says. Why? “Kundalini really emphasizes our internal experience, including thoughts, emotions, and sensations. Through practice, we become more conscious of ourselves and the world around us,” she explains.
In fact, the U.S. Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation prescribes one of Kundalini’s kriyas (posture) to improve brain function, emotional balance, focus, and memory.
What practice looks like: Kundalini yoga incorporates breathwork, mantras, mudras (symbolic hand or body positions), meditation, and dynamic movement, Tait explains. The classes tend to move through a series of exercises that each have a desired mental, physical, or spiritual outcome. A class will usually begin with opening chants, followed by warm ups, then the focal exercises, before closing with deep relaxation and meditation.
Who might like it: People who want a more spiritual yoga experience and are comfortable singing and chanting.
8. Power Yoga
This practice was founded by Beryl Bender Birch, who studied with Ashtanga master Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, in the 1980s. It was originally designed for athletes, per the Kripalu Center For Yoga and Health.
What practice looks like: Power yoga an intense, fast-paced, flowing style of yoga that focuses on breathwork, strength, concentration, and flexibility.
Who might like it: More advanced yogis and athletes.
9. Prenatal Yoga
This type of practice is designed specifically for moms-to-be. In the 1990s, Geeta Iyengar (daughter of Iyengar yoga founder B.K.S. Iyengar) wrote about this type of yoga in her book A Gem for Women. She described a practice adapted specifically for women during pregnancy (as well as during menstruation and in menopause).
What practice looks like: During prenatal yoga, you’ll go through severalgentle sequences that target areas often affected by pregnancy (think: back and hips), improve range of motion, and increase strength and flexibility. You’ll also learn helpful breathing and relaxation techniques that can be applicable during labor and beyond.
Who might like it: Expecting moms or people who want a more gentle yoga experience.
10. Restorative Yoga
A restorative yoga practice is designed to strengthen and train your nervous system and prepare you for stressful situations. Also originating from the teachings of B.K.S. Iyengar, it’s meant to trigger your “rest-and-digest” response or parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS), explains Maya Magennis, RYT, instructor for YogaWorks. By activating this system, restorative yoga signals that you’re safe and can transition into a relaxed state.
What practice looks like: The goal of this practice is deep relaxation. Restorative yoga classes are very slow-paced and poses are held anywhere from two to 25 (!) minutes, Tait says. You’ll use props like blankets and blocks to support your body in different postures and focus your attention on areas of your body holding tension (like your shoulders, neck, or hips) by directing your breath there.
Who might like it:Anyone who is struggling with stress, fatigue, sleep problems or body aches and pains.
11. Vinyasa Yoga
The word “vinyasa” comes from the Sanskrit root words meaning “to place in a special way,” explains Magennis says. “In modern day postural yoga, vinyasa generally refers to a flowing sequence of yoga postures coordinated with the breath,” she explains. But vinyasa is much broader than the physical practice, and is a step-by-step approach to living life with a greater sense of awareness and care.
What practice looks like: “Vinyasa yoga concentrates on linking breath with movement,” Tait says. Instructors choreograph a sequence of back-to-back yoga postures and inhalations and exhalations are used to move from one pose to the next, she explains.
Who Might Like It: Anyone who enjoys a more active practice and craves variety in their yoga classes.
12. Yin Yoga
Yin Yoga was founded by Paulie Zink, a martial arts champion and Taoist yoga teacher, in the 1970s. The practice is, “rooted in the ancient shamanic tradition of China, and in the Chinese Taoist philosophy of being at one with everything and in harmony with your own nature,” Zink said in an interview with Yoga International.
What practice looks like: If you’re looking to slow things down but don’t want to go full restorative, opt for yin. Unlike in vinyasa, each pose is held for several minutes with the goal of targeting the deeper connective tissues and fascia, in addition to your muscles, Zink said. Yin postures are based on the characteristics of animals and the five alchemical elements. The practice is designed to target the tense areas in your body and calm your nervous system. Your job? Just surrender.
Who might like it: People who want a more meditative (but still challenging!) yoga experience.
Source: Read Full Article