Your Guide to the Different Types of Yoga

Yoga has seen a significant improvement over the past couple of years. Check out the schedule of any studio and you'll find a myriad of varieties of yoga, ranging from Kundalini and ashtanga yoga to Acro and aerial yoga. You might have seen or even tried some of the most modern and different variations of this ancient practice, such as hip-hop , high-intensity yoga or naked yoga...just to mention some.

Yoga is a long-standing practice that dates back thousands of years. But it was only discovered into the US in the latter half of the 1800s, and established itself in the last few years. Since it, yoga has transformed from a pastime popular with hippies to one used by more than 37 million individuals.

But not all of the million of people head to an yoga studio to practice their downward dog. If you prefer to roll your mat at your own home (like the ones at Beachbody Yoga Studio) you're not alone. It's the most popular place to do their yoga.

What Is Yoga?

"Plain and straightforward yoga is the unification between the mind, body and the spirit. This is the genesis of yoga and how it's performed throughout yoga in the East," says Miriam Amselem yoga instructor for more than 30 years. "It is a place of discovery and connection with your own body that encompasses balance, proper stretching techniques, breathing, meditation, centering the mind and spirit -- that's yoga in its real form."

You'll also find that each type of yoga has a different definition or meaning. This is why we're seeing the practice of goat yoga (a.k.a. practicing yoga while goats run and jumping about) appearing alongside more traditional styles such as Iyengar and Ashtanga.

And, most importantly, yoga is a way to break yoga's "no pain, no gain" concept that is prevalent within fitness communities. Yoga isn't the space to push yourself to the edge or disregard your body. The principle principle is the principle of ahimsa which means non-harm, and it starts with selecting the appropriate style of yoga that is suitable for you..

5 Types of Yoga: How to Choose the Right Kind for You

If you're trying to figure out what type of yoga is right for you, be aware that there's no correct or incorrect choiceonly one that may not be suitable for you at the moment.

"Like any form of exercise, choose something you want to do," says Stephanie Saunders, executive director of fitness at Beachbody and an instructor certified in yoga. "Bikram or Iyengar could interest you if are an extremely meticulous person. If you're more of a fun-loving type Vinyasa or aerial yoga might be an option for you. Find a class which makes you want to join in."

What kind of yoga will inspire you? Our guide to the main types of yoga will assist you in deciding if you're more in an edgy or energy yoga type of mood or something else between.

Kundalini Yoga

Yogi Bhajan, a teacher spiritual leader, brought this type practice of yoga into the West in the 1960s. "Kundalini" in Sanskrit translates to "life force energy" (known as prana or Chiin within the Yoga community) It is believed to have a tight snaking at spinal base. The yoga sequences are designed to release or stimulate the energy of this source and help decrease stress and negative thoughts. "You get to elevate your consciousness and feel great," says Veronica Parker, an E-RYT 200, as well as certified kundalini yoga instructor.

It is done by challenging the mind and body through meditation, singing, chanting as well as Kriyas (specific series of poses that are accompanied by breathwork and the practice of chanting). It's possible that everyone is wearing white because it's believed that it can ward off negativity and improve your energy. The typical kundalini class begins with the mantra (a purpose on the class) and then incorporates breathing exercises, warmups that keep the body moving and challenging postures, and then a final relaxation and meditation, according to Parker.

Who Would Benefit: Anyone in search of a physical but also spiritually-oriented exercise, or who enjoy chanting or singing.

Vinyasa Yoga

Vinyasa yoga is also called "flow yoga" or "vinyasa flow". It's a very popular form of yoga. A good example is the 3 Week Yoga Retreat's flow yoga class for beginners. It was modified from the more structured Ashtanga practice several years back. The term "vinyasa" translates to "place in a special way," which is usually used to refer to connecting the breath with movement. There are a lot of words such as slow, energetic or mindful, paired with flow or vinyasa to signal the intensity of the practice.

"Vinyasa flow is a style of yoga where the poses are synchronized with the breath in a continuous rhythmic flow," says Sherrell Moore-Tucker, RYT200. "The flow can be meditative in nature, calming the mind and nervous system, even though you're moving."

Vinyasa yoga is appropriate for people who haven't attempted yoga before, as well as for those who've been practicing for many years.

Who might like it: Anyone who wants more movement and less quiet in their practice of yoga.

Hatha Yoga

Hatha yoga gets its name from Sanskrit words meaning moon and sun and is intended to help balance two opposing forces. The harmony in yoga based on hatha could come from the ability to stretch and strengthen as well as mental and physical energy, or even breath as well as the human body. "Hatha is a blanket term for many different 'styles' and schools that use the body as a means for self-inquiry," Jennifer Campbell-Overbeeke E-RYT 500.

It's usually used as a generic word to describe the physical aspect of yoga. It's more traditional in its nature and is often referred to in the context of yoga for beginner. "Hatha translates to 'forceful,' but this relates more to the aspect of concentration and regularity of practice rather than applying unnecessary force to the body," Campbell-Overbeeke says. Campbell-Overbeeke.

In order to be considered hatha yoga classes should include the asana (poses) as well as pranayama (breathing exercises) and meditation. Other types of yoga, like Iyengar, ashtanga, or Bikram -- can be classified as yoga that is hatha.

Who might like it: Anyone looking for an appropriate and balanced practice, or in seeking a more gentle form of yoga.

Ashtanga Yoga

Ashtanga yoga is comprised of six specific series of poses that are taught in a specific sequence. Each series and every pose will be "given" to a student after their instructor determines that they've mastered the previous series. It's a physically demanding flow-style yoga that has spiritual elements that you may recognize it from the kind Madonna performed in late 90s. Ashtanga instructors offer the students hands-on adjustments. In Mysore-style yoga studios (named after the city in which the guru of the practice Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, was born and taught) every student has an individual practice.

"The practitioner moves at the pace of her own breath and to her personal edge, or growth point," says Lara Land, a level two certified ashtanga instructor. "Each person memorizes the practice and moves at her own pace through the poses."

Ashtanga vinyasa yoga is usually taught in "led" classes in the West and classes in the initial or the next sequence is taught from beginning to end over a period between 90 minutes and two hours. It is not a music-based class in the ashtanga class.

Who Would Like It:Anyone who likes routine or a more active and spiritually-oriented practice.

Yin Yoga

Yin yoga refers to a slow type of yoga where postures are retained for up to a one minute and can last for the length of five or more minutes. It's a form of yoga that has roots in martial arts and yoga. It's created to improve circulation in joints and increase flexibility. The focus of the practice is on the lower back, hips and thighs. It makes use of props such as blankets, bolsters as well as blocks, to allow gravity work for you and help ease. As other forms of yoga concentrate on the muscles, yin yoga focuses on the connective tissues in the body.

Yin can also help in recovery from workouts that are hard. "Adding a deep stretch and holding class like yin can be extremely beneficial to a strong body," says Megan Kearney, an experienced instructor at Yoga Medicine Instructor. The longer time you hold poses benefits the mind and the body, and gives you the opportunity to be still. "This is a beautiful practice that honors stillness," Moore-Tucker says. "This style of practice is a great balance for vinyasa flow."

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