Yoga is unlike any other form of exercise, for the simple reason that it is more than just exercise. This is a discipline with roots running thousands of years deep into the history and culture of India. Through yoga, you can do much more than just lose weight, become more flexible, or tone your muscles. Along with offering all these and many more physical benefits, yoga can also enhance your mental, emotional, and spiritual health. If you’re thinking about adopting this wonderful discipline in your life and reaping all its wonderful benefits, then the first step is getting to know the different yoga styles. We’ll be looking at 5 popular styles of yoga and what’s unique about each of them.
Here are the most popular types of yoga and their benefits
1. Vinyasa Yoga
This is one of the most commonly known forms of yoga. You can think of Vinyasa yoga as a style where different asanas are sewn together in a flow or sequence. During a Vinyasa practice, you keep moving from one asana to another with the help of your breath. If you are someone who enjoys sweating it out through constant movement, you may find Vinyasa yoga to your liking. This is a very dynamic practise because you keep flowing through a variety of poses. Because the practice is so dynamic in nature, it will get your heart rate up which is great for your cardiovascular fitness. Depending on the kinds of postures that are included in the practice, you can work on improving your flexibility and strength. Overall, it’s an energizing practise that will allow you to work your body and calm your mind at the same time.
2. Hatha Yoga
The tempo of Hatha yoga is much slower and gentler as compared to the more vigorous Vinyasa yoga. Instead of constantly moving between the asanas, in Hatha yoga practice, you hold an asana for a few breaths before transitioning to the following asana. In addition to doing various asanas, you would also be working on pranayama. Moreover, meditation is also an important component of Hatha yoga practice. The static holds in Hatha yoga can feel relaxing or challenging depending on the asana that you’re holding. The gentle nature of Hatha yoga makes it excellent for people completely new to yoga. But newbies aren’t the only ones who can enjoy this practice. Hatha yoga is great if you are seeking ease and relaxation from your yoga practice, with maybe a dash of challenge.
3. Kundalini Yoga
The basic principle underlying Kundalini yoga is the stimulation of spiritual energy force within us, known as the Kundalini energy. Activating and channelling this energy within our body can help us achieve better overall well-being. This yoga style is different from other styles in the sense that in addition to the physical asanas, there are a lot of other things too that form a vital part of the practice. In a Kundalini yoga class, you’d be working on things like kriyas, singing, breathing, chanting, meditating, etc. Kundalini yoga offers a variety of benefits on all levels, physical, mental, and spiritual.
4. Iyengar Yoga
With its roots based in Hatha yoga, the Iyengar yoga style encourages a deeper and more technical understanding of the yoga asanas that you practice. In an Iyengar yoga class, you’ll be going through various yoga postures that are organized in a proper sequence, holding each of these postures for some time. This form of yoga requires you to pay a lot of attention to your physical alignment in each of the postures. To achieve accurate alignment for the poses in a safe way, you can take help from multiple yoga props, such as bolsters, blankets, straps, benches, blocks, etc. Spending some time in each of the asanas, with the correct alignment, allows you to build strength, stamina, balance and flexibility.
5. Yin Yoga
In direct contrast to the active and dynamic yoga forms that we have looked at so far, Yin Yoga is a slower, gentler, and more relaxed form of yoga. In this practice, you hold select yoga asanas for a couple of minutes in a passive way, the area of focus being the connective tissues rather than the muscles. Since the poses are to be held for an extended duration, neither should you push yourself too much in any pose nor should you engage your muscles too much in the poses. Holding the poses in a relaxed and passive way for some time allows you to work on the range of motion of the connective tissues and mobility of the joints. Additionally, Yin Yoga is incredibly helpful in managing and reducing stress.
Now that you know these 5 popular forms of yoga, which one(s) would you like to try? Remember, you don’t have to stick to any one form of yoga only. While you burn away calories through active forms of yoga-like Vinyasa, you can relax and wind down through gentler forms of yoga-like Yin.