Different Types of Yoga – Introduction
What are the different types of yoga and which style is right for you?
The thought of yoga will likely never enter your mind.
And in fact, to the uninitiated, yoga and strength training can seem like incompatible workouts.
Yoga is often relatively static and focuses on things like stretching and breathing.
In contrast, strength training emphasizes dynamic movements and muscular overload.
But, despite being polar opposites, yoga and strength training are perfect partners.
What one lacks, the other one provides in abundance.
For example, strength training can leave your muscles short and tight, and yoga is one of the best ways to counteract this issue.
But did you know that there is more than one style of yoga?
And while all types of yoga share some common characteristics, each one offers unique advantages and benefits.
This article takes a look at the eleven most common yet different styles of yoga so that you can choose the one that’s best for you.
The 11 Most Common Styles of Yoga
The styles of yoga are like varieties of ice cream – each one is different, but, in most cases, the main ingredients are the same.
So, which flavor of yoga is right for you?
Let’s take a look at your main choices!
#1. Vinyasa yoga
Vinyasa yoga is also called flow yoga because the asanas or poses are usually done in a flowing sequence in time with your breath.
Equally dynamic and mindful, Vinyasa is an excellent form of yoga for people who want to feel like they’ve had a workout.
Believe it or not, a Vinyasa class can be pretty tiring, as the pace is relatively fast.
However, it’s also a good form of yoga for beginners as none of the poses are too extreme and can be modified to suit stiff western bodies.
Best for: Anyone who prefers a more dynamic workout, and ideal for those with above-average flexibility and mobility.
22-Minute Vinyasa Yoga flow for beginners
#2. Bikram yoga
Bikram yoga is a form of hot yoga and is practiced in a studio that’s heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit with 40 percent humidity.
Each class lasts precisely 90 minutes and follows a fast-moving, pre-set routine consisting of 26 postures.
So, in theory, every Bikram class should be more or less the same, and students improve their practices by trying to perfect their form.
As you’d expect, Bikram yoga is very hot and sweaty and provides an intense workout.
However, the heat and humidity may enhance flexibility and mobility, making it good for anyone who’s sore or stiff.
Best for: Athletes and anyone looking for an intense yoga workout.
#3. Ashtanga yoga
Many yoga classes have a strong group dynamic with very little individual attention.
You are just expected to keep up with the instructor and may be one of a dozen or more students in the class.
A good example of this is Bikram yoga.
Ashtanga yoga is more individualized, and each participant is encouraged to work at his or her own pace.
The series of six poses are taught in order, and you only move from one to the next when your teacher believes you have mastered the previous one.
This style of yoga is described as equal parts physical and spiritual and contains some of the most testing yoga asanas.
Best for: Participants looking for a challenging yet customized and progressive workout.
#4. Yin yoga
Where some types of yoga are quite fast-paced, moving from one pose to the next every few breaths, Yin yoga is much slower.
Yin yoga poses are held for as long as ten minutes to provide a deep stretch and improve flexibility.
Yin practitioners often use straps and blocks to help them maintain an elongated, relaxed position, making this one of the most relaxing types of yoga.
Best for: People looking for a slow, relaxing workout with an emphasis on improving flexibility and posture. Yin yoga is especially good for older exercisers.
#5. Iyengar yoga
This form of yoga became popular in the 1970s and is named after its founder, B.K.S. Iyengar.
This type of yoga is a little less traditional than other forms and was developed to be more accessible to tight-limbed westerners.
As such, Iyengar yoga uses straps, blocks, and bolsters to make the poses more achievable, even if you are very immobile.
Western bodies are often very tight from lots of sitting in chairs.
Less intense than other forms of yoga, this is an excellent option for yoga novices and anyone who wants to gradually improve their flexibility and mobility.
The use of props means that mixed abilities can attend the same class, and poses can be adapted to the needs of the individual.
Best for: Yoga novices and anyone who is overly tight or immobile.
#6. Power yoga
Power yoga is a super-charged version of ashtanga.
In Power yoga, you move from challenging pose to challenging pose in a set sequence of movements timed to your breath.
This fast-paced class can be done in a regular yoga room but may also be done in a heated studio, i.e., hot power yoga.
As the name implies, Power yoga involves more strength-building moves than other styles of yoga and provides a challenging workout.
The pace of the class means Power yoga burns a lot of calories and also delivers a notable cardiovascular workout.
However, there is less emphasis on developing flexibility, and it’s not a particularly relaxing class.
Best for: Intermediate to advanced practitioners looking for a fast-paced, intense workout to build strength and burn calories. Not as relaxing or spiritual as other forms of yoga.
#7. Hatha yoga
If you go to a yoga class that involves a mixture of flowing sequences, static asanas, breathing exercises, meditation, and relaxation, it’s probably Hatha.
Hatha yoga takes a little from every other type of yoga to create a balanced yoga practice that is ideal for beginners.
If you are not sure if yoga is for you, a few Hatha yoga classes would probably be an excellent place to start, as it contains elements from all the major styles while still being very accessible.
Best for: Beginners and anyone who’s yoga-curious but not sure what type of yoga to try. It’s also good for anyone who wants to enjoy a balanced, varied yoga class and can’t pick one style over another.
#8. Sivananda yoga
Sivananda yoga is a variation of Hatha yoga, but classes involve a series of 12 basic asanas.
This yoga style is both energetic and relaxing, and because they all follow the same format, you can gradually improve your practice by perfecting your execution of each pose.
Sivananda yoga is not as intense as Bikram or Ashtanga yoga but more energetic than Yin and Restorative yoga, making it an ideal choice for intermediate practitioners.
Best for: Anyone looking for a gentler form of yoga that still follows a set routine or flow. Ideal for beginner and intermediate yoga practitioners.
#9. Restorative yoga
Where some types of yoga emphasize the physical body to improve mobility, flexibility, strength, and breath control, Restorative yoga is more relaxing and spiritual.
Poses are generally held for five minutes or more and are often accompanied by guided meditations.
A Restorative yoga class aims to relax and destress as you gently improve your flexibility.
Restorative yoga is designed to be the antidote to modern living, helping to undo the damaging effects of stress, hustle, and bustle.
In short, it’s a form of self-care.
A Restorative yoga class is a very mindful, spiritual experience.
Best for: Practitioners who want to relax and unwind, regain energy, and gently increase flexibility.
#10. Aerial yoga
Also known as anti-gravity or suspended yoga, aerial yoga is a new type of yoga class that’s gaining a lot of popularity.
Yoga poses are performed with the aid of a strong hammock which makes inverted poses like handstands more accessible.
Aerial yoga is good for decompressing the spine, and many of the poses will also strengthen your core.
This type of class can be either challenging or restorative, depending on the asanas being taught.
Best for: Anyone looking for an alternative to traditional ground-based yoga. A good choice for weightlifters as it can help decompress and stretch your spine for better back health.
#11. Acro yoga
This style of yoga takes many traditional poses and makes them more challenging by doing them with a partner.
One partner acts as the base, while the other performs the pose while being supported.
Acro yoga is a new concept, but it is popular with couples and groups of friends as you get to practice with a partner.
Also, supporting another person’s weight means acro yoga is an excellent way to build strength and stability.
Best for: People looking for a fun and somewhat adventurous class or want to do yoga with their partner or friend.
There are other lesser-known forms of yoga, such as Yang, Kundalini yoga, Anusara, and Jivamukti yoga, but they’re mostly offshoots of the more traditional styles of yoga.
If you come across a yoga style and want to know more about it, speak to your instructor to find out what the class entails.
That way, you can ensure it’s right for your needs and experience level.
Different Styles of Yoga – Wrapping Up
With more than 12 different yoga styles to choose from, you should have no problem finding one that perfectly matches your needs.
If you want an intense workout, you can’t go too far wrong with Bikram or Power yoga.
But, if you want a more relaxing, gentle experience, Yin and Restorative yoga are both excellent choices.
However, it’s also worth noting that yoga teaching styles can vary enormously, and the same class taught by different people can feel very different.
Regardless of which type of yoga you choose, your practice will enhance your strength training and vice versa.
Despite appearances to the contrary, these two activities are very compatible.
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