Yoga is associated with a multitude of health benefits from decreased anxiety and stress levels to restoring functional movement to aiding in weight loss. Yoga practice is cumulative. You need to really stick with it to get the most out of it. So it’s really important that you find a style of yoga that works for you. Here’s a breakdown of some of the yoga styles to choose from.
Did you know?
Hatha yoga is a broad term describing a series of asanas (poses). The Yoga Journal notes that many classes termed Hatha may be a combination of several different styles and advises to ask the instructor whether the class is more vigorous or gentle and meditative.
A few of the more common yoga styles practiced in the U.S.:
Ashtanga yoga (a form of Vinyasa) is an intense continuous flow of poses that are linked from one to other by the breath.
Bikram yoga refers to a sequence of 26 poses performed in a warmed (close to 100 degrees) room. Bikram Choudhury says the poses work every part of the body, addressing the major organs and body systems to promote healing.
Svaroopa is a method focused on the opening of the spine and encourages the use of supports such as blankets and blocks. Originator Swami Nirmalananda Saraswati says it’s a great form of yoga for all experience and fitness levels.
Kundalini is a combination of classic poses with an emphasis on chanting, meditation and breathing.
Integrative Yoga Therapy is a yoga-based wellness technique designed to address various health problems.
Quiz: Which yoga style is right for you?
1. When asked how you’d classify your physical activity history, you respond:
a) I have no injuries and I live an active lifestyle.
b) I’m fairly active but do have some work-related back pain.
c) I suffer from arthritis and have never really worked out before.
2. When it comes to working out, you prefer:
a) A rigorous and challenging routine that keeps me sweating.
b) Moments where I’m pushed to the max, knowing that I’ll have a chance to recoup.
c) Stretching and lengthening.
3. Your idea of a perfect yoga class is:
a) Fast-paced and muscle-trembling.
b) Fast enough to keep me interested, but not over the top.
c) By the end I’m in a meditative trance.
If you answered:
Mostly As: You’re a challenge seeker and don’t shy away easily from a tough workout. Give Ashtanga or Bikram yoga a try — I promise you’ll do more than just break a sweat.
Mostly Bs: You’re moderately active and many have an injury or two that can be limiting when it comes to physical activity. Both Bikram and Integrative Yoga Therapy tout healing and chronic illness benefits.
Mostly Cs: You might not be interested in learning handstands, but that doesn’t mean you can’t reap the rewards of a yoga practice designed for you. Try the Svaroopa or Kundalini styles.
The most important thing about yoga is that you enjoy it
Don’t get discouraged if you try a class only to find it’s not the right one for you. Every style, every studio, every instructor can yield a completely different experience. Just get out there and keep practicing!