Which of The Most Popular Types of Yoga Is the Best Fit For You?
You gotta love how many interpretations there are and all of the various ways we can enjoy and explore yoga. I was really blown away as a new student when I began to delve into just how many schools, styles, and types of yoga there were to choose from. I took the trial and error approach before landing on Vinyasa as my jam.
Luckily we don’t have to choose just one style. But most of us determine a preference and pursue it with fervent ardor. Below is a list of the most popular types of yoga and the pertinent deets you need to know.
Ashtanga technically falls under the umbrella of Vinyasa, but it’s a set series of postures broken down into primary series, second series, and four advanced series. A set series means you’ll do the sequence in the same order every single time. Ashtanga centers around the sun salutations and it’s a rigorous physical practice.
Ashtanga-lovers are often equated to the Type-A personality as lovers of discipline, hard work, and perfectionism. The further a practitioner gets into this practice, the more wild and complicated the poses become. If that sounds like your bag, Ashtanga might be the perfect style for you.
After my first Vinyasa class, I left feeling such a sense of joy because it was so much FUN. Vinyasa means one pose linked to another by breath. That provides tons of room for creative and dynamic flows that will get your heart rate up and stretch and build every muscle, ligament, and tendon in your body.
Vinyasa tends to appeal to the athletic yogi who appreciates creativity and variety. And there’s always killer music playing to help the whole experience feel a bit like a dance party.
Technically, Hatha yoga is the umbrella term for all types of yoga that involve movement. But what you can expect from a Hatha class is a slower pace and holding basic standing and seated postures for at least several breaths if not minutes.
Hatha is great for beginners and for those who are looking to stretch but not sweat. The focus isn’t usually on building muscle but more on opening up and finding more space in the body. If you’re looking to keep it simple and leave class feeling refreshed and renewed, Hatha is a wonderful choice.
The most controversial figure in the entire yoga realm is Bikram Choudhury, the founder of Bikram yoga. Yet his 26 set posture series with long holds in a room set at a temperature of 106 degrees has prevailed as a very popular type of yoga practiced all over the world.
If you love building muscle and have the attitude of the hotter the class, the better, Bikram might be a perfect fit for you. And you don’t want to have to use your hands to balance your body weight, the classic 26 posture series includes no arm balances. So if you’re recovering from an injury to your hand, wrist, elbow, or shoulder, this practice is an option as you heal.
Hot Power Yoga
Of all the types of yoga, hot power yoga feels the most like a workout. Music pumping, room set to between 90 and 100 degrees, and powerful, challenging movements leaving the practitioners drenched and happy as they leave class satisfied they worked their asses off. It’s becoming increasingly more challenging to find non-hot classes as more and more students crave and seek out the heat.
Try hot power yoga if you love to exercise, sweating, and are invested in pushing yourself physically. But be mindful-- this can sometimes lead to adrenal fatigue and you must stay super hydrated, not just during class, but in general.
Gooey. That’s the word that always comes to mind when I think of or practice Yin yoga. Yin postures are held for anywhere from 3-7 minutes and the aim is to get into the tight connective tissue called fascia. Postures that gently twist the spine, open the hips, shoulders, and hamstrings with the use of lots of props and a restorative approach are what Yin yoga exists to achieve.
Try Yin yoga if you need to slow things down and find more ease and space in your body and mind. It’s a kind practice.
Kundalini yoga is a very interesting practice. And it’s a little hard to describe because it’s such a unique experience. There’s various types of breath work, chanting, mantras, Ayurvedic practices, and moving subtle body energy to increase balance in the central nervous system and create a sense of well-being within.
Of all the popular types of yoga, this is the practice that is most likely going to stay with you well beyond the physical work. Try Kundalini if you’re looking to ignite your spirit and work to empower and invigorate your mind.
We might be shying away from a particular practice because it’s exactly what we need. Or maybe not, but the only way to know for sure is to give everything a try and not assume you won’t enjoy it. The joy is in the delving into the unknown. There’s so much out there to explore. Enjoy it.
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