There are so many types of Yoga to choose from. They can be ancient or modern, high-intensity or slow burn. Some are more physically challenging while others emphasize the spiritual aspects of the practice. They may aim to heal and regenerate the tissues, cleanse the body of impurities or mix and match any of the above. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to expand your yogic horizons, it can all get a little dizzying.
This guide contains information and explanations about some of the most popular types of Yoga around today. Hopefully, it’ll help you to make some sense of it all so that you can decide which style is best for you.
Vinyasa Yoga, also known as ‘Vinyasa Flow’ or just ‘Flow’, classes are made up of a variety of postures and no two are exactly the same. The ever-changing sequences and flow that characterize this style of Yoga help to develop greater balance in the body and prevent repetitive motion injuries that are associated with so-called ‘fixed form’ types of yoga where the same postures and sequences are practiced every time. It also improves strength, flexibility, cardiovascular health, and helps to detoxify the body.
Classes can be quite physically demanding but even as a beginner you can reap the benefits as you build up strength, flexibility and stamina. The underlying philosophy of Vinyasa is to recognize the impermanence of all things. You enter into a posture, stay for a while and then head to the next one.
Yin is to Yang as ice is to fire. Yang types of Yoga are vigorous and strong, whereas Yin Yoga is all about moving slowly, stretching and lengthening rarely used areas of the body and learning to sit with your discomfort. The basic idea is fewer poses but a longer duration for each one. This can be between 5-20 minutes per pose, helping to regenerate deep connective tissues such as ligaments, joints and fascia. It’s also a great way to combine the benefits of Yoga and meditation.
Yin Yoga can also help in the treatment of chronic disorders such as arthritis or osteoporosis and is often used as part of a recovery plan for people recovering from injuries. It can be a great counterbalance to more demanding physical activities and other forms of Yoga or a standalone practice if that’s all you want or need.
Bikram Yoga, also known as hot yoga, is done in a hot and humid studio with an exact temperature of 41°C (105°F) that is meant to mimic the climate of India. Classes are 90 minutes long and always consist of the same 26 postures, or more accurately, 24 postures + one pranayama (breathing) exercise + one shatkarma (purification) technique.
Classes are physically and mentally demanding but research does suggest that Bikram offers a number of health benefits. These include improved strength, greater range of motion and better balance. It may also create improvements in glucose tolerance, bone density, blood lipids and artery stiffness. Just be warned, it is one of those things that you will either love or hate.
Kundalini Yoga is a style with ancient roots that is primarily focused on the spiritual and energetic aspects of yogic practice. This is done by incorporating kriya (specific actions), asana (postures), meditation and breathing techniques. While the primary purpose of Kundalini Yoga is spiritual, this is done using the body and there are also substantial physical benefits to be obtained.
Each class is designed for a specific purpose, like improving intuition, draining the lymphatic system or balancing the chakras. Classes can be quite vigorous and leave you feeling stiff in parts of the body you didn’t even know you had. It’s a very beginner-friendly style of Yoga that is all about letting go, having fun and developing a deeper understand of yourself.
Other types of Yoga
The above-mentioned types of Yoga are just a tiny splash in an ocean of choices. The more styles you try, the more likely you are to find one that is perfect for you. Here are some others that are worth investigating:
Interested in 1-on-1 lessons with a top-quality Yoga teacher? Download the Heck Yeah app and find your perfect instructor today!