The origins of yoga can be traced back to India over five thousand years ago. Its original context was to be used as a method of spiritual development to train the body and mind to become self-observant thus allowing us to become more aware of our own nature. While beginning yoga can feel daunting at first, consistent practice will help you achieve exactly that and much more. The beauty of yoga is that it is designed for every type of body and no matter who you are, consistent yoga practice does have the power to calm your mind while simultaneously strengthening your body. Below are six popular yoga styles that you might like to try.
Vinyasa yoga, also known as "flow yoga," focuses on seamlessly flowing through a series of postures (asanas) while focusing on your breath. This is a more free-form yoga practice because no two classes are the same and the asanas you choose can vary in intensity. Think of vinyasa as a "moving meditation."
Ashtanga yoga is a more difficult variation of Vinyasa, but with a greater focus on synchronizing the breath with movements. It consists of a series of postures that takes about 90 minutes to complete and must be completed in a precise order. Vinyasa is a much more demanding form of yoga. Ashtanga helps with body awareness and instills a better sense of rhythm in your yoga flow. Additionally, the physical demands of Ashtanga often help you work up a sweat which if practiced regularly enough, help to detoxify the body and improve blood circulation.
Hatha is an umbrella term for any type of yoga that pairs poses and breathing techniques. In the U.S. however, the term hatha is used to refer to a more gentle style of yoga. It is slower-paced than Vinyasa and is a great way to learn poses if you require a more gentle pace. Hatha can be a good option for yogis who have injuries or who are just beginning.
Yin yoga is a restorative style of yoga that consists of varying poses designed to stimulate specific meridians in the body. In Yin yoga, poses are held for five minutes or more which is great for yogis who would like to become more flexible as yin yoga targets your deep connective tissues such as your ligaments, tendons and fascia. This type of yoga allows you to lengthen tissues that you rarely use while teaching you to breathe through the discomfort.
Iyengar yoga is a restorative type of yoga that was developed to help people heal from illnesses such as tuberculosis. It focuses on the improvement of posture by holding out asanas for a extended period of time while continuously adjusting alignment of the body to deepen the asana's effects. Iyengar yoga utilizes props to help focus on the structural alignment of the body.
Bikram yoga is similar to hatha in terms of speed and gentleness, but differs in terms of rigidity. Bikram yoga must be done in a Bikram studio as it must take place in a hot room (typically 105°F at 40% humidity). A typical Bikram session lasts about 90 minutes and follows a specific sequence of 26 postures. Bikram yoga is challenging and makes you work up a sweat which detoxifies the body.