Types of Yoga: Choose One That's Right for You
If you've never tried yoga, my question is: Why not? There are so many benefits to this ancient form of exercise, stretching, and for some, meditation and relaxation.
Yoga has kept me from having to go the chiropractor as often. The stretching keeps my spine in alignment as well as work out the tension in my back and neck.
Yoga healed my plantar fasciitis! I have a lot of tennis and runner friends who suffer from this debilitating condition that causes so much pain it becomes difficult to walk or stand. Don't get a cortisone shot. Don't get surgery. Do yoga!
For some people, yoga is a way to clear your mind and center thoughts that tend to run wild with all of our lists and worries.
You don't have to necessarily break an incredible sweat to get the benefits of yoga. The stretching, inverting, isometric holding, and full breathing have positive benefits for your body. One of the greatest benefits, in my opinion, is the strengthening of your core. Your core is essential for good overall health, including holding all of your inner organs in place.
Something to keep in mind when doing any yoga class is that the class will vary depending on who is teaching the class, regardless of the style. My advice is to try several instructors and see which one works best with your fitness goals. Classes will range in length from 1-1 1/2 hours, depending on what type of studio you take from.
A Quick Look
slower and less intense but still effective
power yoga, some advanced movement
uses props to aid stretching
a sauna-like experience
focuses on kundalini awakening
fast-paced with advanced movements
Perfect for beginners. Up dog, down dog, child's pose, warrior, plank...if you have no idea what those words mean, this is where you should start. Yoga is all about the poses and your form. A great hatha instructor will go around the room and help individuals with their form. Yoga focuses on holding these poses and deep breathing. At my gym, the hatha class was a favorite of older women who wanted to focus on stretching and breathing.
If you're a beginner, this is a perfect class for you because yoga uses muscles that other forms of exercise neglect. An example of that is the lunge. It's a pose that you hold but rotate your upper body in different ways. If you're not used to holding yourself this way, it can be difficult to maintain your balance. This balance is what is commonly known as your core.
Depending on the instructor, these classes can go at a very slow pace or a bit faster. Try different classes to find which one fits best for you.
Good for weight loss. Also known as power yoga, expect to flow from one pose after another pretty quickly. The goal for this class is strength, flexibility, and calorie burn.
Depending on the instructor, the moves can be a bit more advanced. But never fear, most instructors offer another option for those who are unable to do certain poses. Here's an example of some of the poses that would offer another option: the wheel or backbend, a one-arm side stand, and the headstand.
How do you know it's power yoga? The one I used to go to would make up her own routines based on yoga poses. We would work muscles I didn't know I had. She also added movements to these poses.
Bikram or Hot Yoga
Great for sweating out impurities. While these two are not exactly the same, they both do similar poses in VERY HOT conditions. Bikram has a particular order of poses while hot yoga does not necessarily but does do similar movements.
When I say the room is hot, it's sauna hot! Some people say it's difficult to even breathe. I've heard some instructors have their students just sit in the room for the first session and not do anything, just to get used to the extreme conditions. For some people, there's no other way to do yoga. Like a sauna, you'll sweat out every impurity. Bring lots of water, a large towel, and maybe a change of clothes.
The great part about these extreme conditions, it loosens muscles so you'll see a greater progress in flexibility than in other classes. On the down side, don't eat two hours before the class or you might get nauseous. Also, if you're dehydrated, say from drinking the night before, hot yoga might not be the best class for you.
Perfect for people with back and neck problems. Pronounced eye-yen-gar, this type of yoga is the most specialized because it focuses on proper alignment along with the stretching. Students use props in the form of blocks, chairs, and ropes to aide in this achievement of the greater stretch. It's an idea type of class if you suffer from a neck or back injury or surgery to help rehab that area without the use of drugs.
While you might not break a sweat, depending on your level of fitness, you will feel invigorated after one of these classes due to the increased blood flow.
Ideal for the advanced person who wants a challenge and likes routine. Taken from an ancient school of yoga that began to grow in popularity in the 1970s, ashtanga tends to be methodical and fast-paced. Like vinyasa that incorporates more challenging poses like the wheel or headstand, expect your balance and strength to be pushed. A true ashtanga class instructor will lead the class in the exact same poses in the exact order every time.
While it appears that order and routine are the rule of this class, a lot of attention is also given to focusing on deep breathing.
The spiritual experience. Ever been to a class that seemed boring because it focused too much on breathing and relaxing? Then it was probably in the kundalini style. This type of yoga is said to connect the physical, mental and spiritual discipline for developing strength, awareness, character, and consciousness. There is something called awakening your kundalini spirit. According to the website Kundalini Awakening, Kundalini awakening enables one to access what is far beyond the normal human realm and its imaginings.
What type of yoga is best for you?
My Favorite Yogi
My first introduction to yoga came from a TV show on the Oxygen network called Inhale with Steve Ross. He was upbeat, positive, lighthearted, entertaining, and I really saw results! Unfortunately, Oxygen has taken him off the air and there were no DVDs to purchase either. I recently found a bunch of his episodes on YouTube. And, when I did a google search on him, I saw that he is coming back.
What makes him so special? Well for me, it's the pace, the ease of the class, the results I feel, and how little he focuses on the spiritual aspect on the show. I like to do yoga for the stretching and health benefits. I get my spirituality elsewhere.
A full episode of my favorite yogi
© 2013 Cynthia Lyerly