Yoga has plenty of different benefits to offer to a person. From improving your core strength to keeping depression and anxiety at bay, yoga has quickly become a favorite for anyone who wants to look after themselves. While yoga was a widely eastern practice, and is deeply rooted in many eastern religions, it has benefits which are undeniable, regardless of faith or place of origin.
As awareness of yoga has increased, more and more people have indulged in it to improve the quality of their life, achieve their goals and become happier, healthier and better human beings in general. However, the most difficult part comes in picking the right type of yoga and joining the right class.
How to Pick the Right Class?
When you want to pick a yoga class, it is a good option to focus on your goals and what you want to achieve through yoga. Certain yoga styles are better suited for mindfulness and spiritual healing whereas others are more focused on improving body alignment, strengthening the core and improving body functions.
It is also a good idea to opt for a demo class so that you can have a better understanding of the kind of physical and mental activities that you will have to face. Another factor to keep in mind is that regardless of the kind of class you choose, it will be challenging. Perseverance is key here. Do not expect to feel all the benefits from yoga, right from the start. It can take months or even years to feel the healing that yoga has to offer.
However, this isn’t meant to discourage one from indulging in yoga. Whether you are opting in it for a healthier lifestyle, better physical health or to improve your mental state, you can definitely improve the quality of life you lead with the help of yoga.
The Different Types of Yoga
The interesting part about yoga lies in the fact that there are different types. Yoga has quickly become a blanket term which has various different facets.
Just like exercise can include CrossFit, jogging, weightlifting and more, yoga has different types too. While seasoned yogis can pick and choose the kind of yoga to indulge in, to avail the benefits; for beginners, it can be too daunting to pick and choose the perfect yoga form that can match with their goals.
If you’re feeling confused, but want to start yoga, the following are the different forms and the benefits that they have to offer:
Vinayasa yoga focuses on flowing postures, combined with the rhythmic breathing of the body. It gives an intense body workout and one can expect to work up a sweat. Vinayasa also has many subdivisions inside it. The following are the yoga types which fall underneath the category of Vinayasa yoga.
Established by K. Pattabhi Jois, Ashtanga incorporates sequential postures that are done in a fast pace. Surprisingly, Ashtanga only has six different series of asanas but they slowly increase in difficulty. This slow rise in the difficulty level makes Ashtanga perfect for beginners since it gives them the flexibility to practice at a pace that they are comfortable with. Ashtanga is also one of the most common forms of yoga that is practiced everywhere.
Incorporating a western spin to the eastern practice of Ashtanga, Power yoga was introduced in 1995 by Bender Birch. Her main aim was to showcase how a person can stay fit with the help of yoga by introducing a set of poses. These poses require discipline, challenge the mind and body and create healthy flow of heat and energy, while also improving flexibility and balance in the body. Over the years, power yoga has grown in popularity and is broadly offered by health clubs and gyms.
Combining Vinayasa and Ashtanga with ancient meditation techniques, Jivamukti was introduced in 1986 by co-founders Sharon Gannon and David Life. Jivamukti incorporates deep meditation techniques with back bends, forward bends, inversions and standing poses that are challenging to the body. With chanting, music, meditation, positive affirmations and readings; Jivamukti allows one to feel mentally and physically energized.
Kali Ray TriYoga
Almost dancelike, the Kali Ray TriYoga consists of a series of movements that refresh the mind and the body. Introduced in 1986 by Kali Ray, the Kali Ray TriYoga is often conducted with music that gives a meditative environment. This form of yoga also has different levels of complexity with the first one being suited for beginners and slowly increasing in difficulty.
Focusing on increasing alignment in the body as well as connecting with breathing; white lotus yoga incorporates gentle, flowing Vinayasa movements that are tailored in accordance with a person’s comfort level as well as their abilities. The yoga practice was crafted to introduce beginners to the theoretical side of yoga in order to help them obtain a well-balanced experience in yoga.
The interesting part to note here is that Vinayasa and its different variations are the most commonly practiced yoga techniques by beginners. This is due to the fact that different forms of yoga can become rather complex for someone who doesn’t know anything about yoga. The trick here is to start with Vinayasa and slowly progress to more challenging forms of yoga such as the ones mentioned below:
Perfect for people who are facing physical limitations based on injuries, Iyengar allows the use of various tools such as chairs, blankets, blocks and more to help give the perfect posture. This yoga practice focuses on the subtleties that each yoga posture introduces to the body. By improving the musco-skeletal structure of the body, Inyengar allows one to slowly improve flexibility as well as coordination in their body in a controlled manner.
Integrative Yoga Therapy
Introduced in 1993, Integrative Yoga Therapy, also known as IYT, this yoga program focuses on incorporating guided imagery, healthy breathing techniques and gentle postures. The main aim is to make yoga therapeutic and introduce wellness into a person’s lifestyle. Many wellness centers as well as rehabilitation and therapy centers recommend IYT as it improves a person’s mental state and focuses on improving and healing the mental, spiritual and physical connection that a person has with their environment.
Designed to be transformative and empowering, Viniyoga is rooted in the belief of transformation, emotionally, physically and intellectually. The methodology of Viniyoga incorporates the growth and change that each person undergoes. The transformation it brings allows a person to be more aware of their bodies, their health and mental wellness and allows them to be productive without being hampered by the limitations they face as they mature.
Also encouraging healing and transformation, Svaroopa focuses on opening up the spine of a person. Beginning from the tailbone to other areas that are connected to the spine, Svaroopa incorporates basic principles of anatomy, asana and the philosophy of yoga. For beginners, the poses in Svaroopa are also approachable as they focus more on finding the right angle and slowly improving flexibility instead of making your body do the poses in a stiff manner. The unfolding and growth in the body appears naturally and gradually, making a person stronger and less prone to developing injuries.
Conducted in a sauna-like environment, Bikram is specifically developed to replicate the natural environment of the birthplace of yoga. The sweating is also considered an integral part of Bikram yoga, since it helps to cleanse the bodily toxins, aids in circulation of oxygen and boosts the immune system. The yoga also incorporates postures from hatha that are designed to address and improve the body functions of a person.
To help overcome emotional blocks and physical tensions, Phoenix rising is a yoga practice which incorporates classical yoga movements with modern body and mind ideology and psychology to promote wellness in the mind and body of a person. The practice also makes use of practiced breathing, yoga postures and connecting with one’s selves. Release of pent up and negative emotions is encouraged to pave the way for healing of the person.
Rooted in philosophy, Sivanada yoga is developed to aid a person in the path to enlightenment. Incorporating around twelve different postures, Sivanada incorporates chanting and meditation to ease the mind and help to overcome mental blocks. Energy release is also powerful and a person is taught the philosophy of Sivanada’s five principles which revolve around asanas (exercise), pranayama (breathing), savasana (relaxation), vedanata (positive thoughts) and dhyana (meditation).
Integral yoga makes use of hatha postures which are classically done in yoga and mixes in asana practices too. A mix of different practices such as sound vibrations, practiced breathing, meditation and guided relaxation, Integral yoga allows one to feel more peaceful in mind and body, as well as learn how to lead a life with purpose. The practice also teaches tolerance and promotes a global connection of peace. It was introduce in 1966 and is still widely practiced to this day.
Providing spiritual growth along with a stronger body, Ananda yoga incorporates hatha yoga postures which are combined with silent affirmations as a person holds each pose. The purpose is to improve a person’s self-esteem and their belief in their own abilities to accomplish more. The affirmations also help to deepen the impact of the pose on the body by allowing the mind to make a connection with it too. This releases energy to the brain, improves alignment, raises self-awareness and emphasis the spiritual side of yoga. It also allows a person to align their body and mind with positive energy that will make a difference in their life.
While it was once a yoga practice that was indulged in and kept secret from others, Kundalini was brought to the light in 1969 and became widely practiced because it combines holiness, happiness and healthiness. Kundalini makes use of postures that are crafted to direct energy to the seven chakras that are housed inside a person. With controlled breathing as well as chanting and meditation, Kundalini is believed to improve energy levels, promote spiritual healing and build a better connection between the mind and the body of an individual.
Incorporating three different stages, Kripalu yoga focuses on postures that allow energy to flow through the body. The stages were developed in the 1970’s and are based on the first stage which focuses on willful practice which aligns the mind and body, breathing and makes one more attuned to their consciousness. The second stage is based on willful surrender which focuses on tolerance in the body and beyond, improving focus on internal emotions and thoughts and concentration. The third stage is based on meditation which focuses on healthy movement that releases tensions, both physical and mental, from the body, and improves wellness.
A new system; Anusara expands upon the hatha yoga practice of combining the human spirit with biomechanics. The practice allows for one to experience grounding, develop spiritually and experience alignment between the inner and outer forces of their body. The core belief of Anusara is that each person is a divine being and the postures and practices are focused on improving the attitude, the action and the alignment of the person. When all three are in harmony, a person can achieve a better understanding of their mind and body and work towards experiencing spiritual freedom and awakening their true nature.
Focusing on pranayama practices and tantric yoga, Tibetan yoga is strongly rooted in Buddhism. This practice makes use of five different series of flowing motions which not only give one a good workout; they also improve the connection between the mind and body. While beginners usually start out with ten or twelve movements and have to work their way up to the twenty one movements which consist of the entire series, many have found Tibetan yoga to be very challenging and it is not always recommended for beginners.
With the help of the above, you will be able to pick the best yoga practice and class for yourself. Moreover, when in doubt, just ask your instructor for some guidance and remember to enjoy the class.