Posted on April 04 2019
One of the biggest challenges for new yogis is figuring out what style of yoga is the best for them! People are often surprised to find that there are MANY different styles of yoga out there. Some yoga is more geared towards athletes with physically demanding classes, while others are more meditative and relaxing. Some are even created just for expecting mothers. Even if you are an experienced yogi, it can be fun to change up your routine and try another style or variation or class! Here are the top 10 most popular types of yoga:
Lyengar Yoga was created by B.K.S. Lyengar and is laser-focused on proper pose alignment. Poses are generally held for long periods of time with a strong emphasis on controlling the breath. Lyengar Yoga also relies heavily on the use of props to help students safely create proper form and deepen postures. This type of yoga is unlikely to get your heart rate up and is not cardio focused. However, it is definitely a great workout and your muscles will become strong and less tense over time. This type of yoga is great for beginners, students with injuries, tight muscles, or those who prefer to move at a slower pace!
Ashtanga in Sanskrit translates to "Eight Limb Path." This is a more advanced variation of yoga and has a very physically demanding sequence. This would be for a more seasoned yogi who has practiced vinyasa yoga, or breath-to-movement flows. Ashtanga has 8 sun salutation A’s, 5 sun salutation B’s, and a floor sequence – always the same postures in the same order. Mysore is another branch of Ashtanga, where people who know the sequence gather to practice the sequence at their own pace
This is a very popular style of yoga in western culture. Vinyasa is the Sanskrit term meaning “to place in a special way”. This is, of course, referring to yoga postures and the sequence of poses. In a vinyasa yoga class, all movements are coordinated with breath to smoothly transition from one pose to the other. There is often music played to keep energy up and add a fun spin to the practice. Most vinyasa teachers will create and teach a new flow each time so that classes are not repetitive. Flows usually consist of a warm-up, sun salutation A, sun salutation B, a core sequence, and a cool down/meditation period. Vinyasa Yoga, similarly to Ashtanga, is a more physically demanding sequence and will be sure to get you sweating and your heart rate up!
*YogaPaws are great for Vinyasana as they allow you the freedom to move away from the four corners of your yoga mat.
The Sanskrit word “Hata” is a generic term for all physical postures of yoga. Hata refers to all other styles of yoga that are centered around physical practice. Hata classes are very beginner friendly and provide a slow, gentler introduction to basic yoga poses. These classes also deliver a general overview to breathing with movement. You are not likely to work up a sweat or burn a ton of calories, but you will probably feel less tense and more relaxed after class.
Bikram Yoga (aka, "Hot Yoga")
If you are looking for a rigorous workout where you can burn calories, sweat, and detox, this is the class for you! Bikram Choudhury created this style about 30 years ago and is traditionally taught in an enclosed room set to 105 degrees with 40 percent humidity (some studios practice in even warmer temperatures). The same sequence is performed in each class, and consists of 26 postures, with each one performed twice. Many studios offer Bikram style classes with a vinyasa fusion, also taught in a room with increased temperatures & humidity. It is recommended to consult with your doctor before practicing in the heat.
*YogaPaws are the perfect accompaniment to Hot Yoga and they will prevent slipping and injury.
Jivamukti was created in 1984 by a couple in New York City. Jivamukti is a vinyasa based style infused with spiritual teaching from classical Hinduism. Various environmental issues are emphasized along with the physical postures including animal rights, veganism, environmentalism, and social activism. Class usually beings with a series of chants and is followed by a flow that includes focussing on five central tenets: Shastra (scripture), Bhakti (devotion), Ahimsā (nonviolence, non-harming), Nāda (music), and Dhyana (meditation). Jivamukti studios are mostly based in the East Coast of the United States, including New York, Washington, and New Jersey.
Kundalini Yoga is one of the original forms of yoga and is often referred to as the “Yoga of Awareness." This variation focuses on both the spiritual and physical aspects of your practice and is said to help release energy trapped in various parts of your body. Kundalini Yoga’s purpose is to “cultivate the creative spiritual potential of a human to uphold values, speak 'truth,' and focus on the compassion and consciousness to heal yourself and serve others." These classes work your core through breathing exercise and difficult postures. These classes can be intense and usually involve chanting, setting a mantra, and meditation.
Yin Yoga is a much slower style yoga with seated postures that can be held for long periods of time (anywhere from 2-5 minutes). Yin is a very beginner friendly practice and helps create a sense of inner peace. It is recommended for those who want to slow down, or are living with chronic pain, stress, or tight muscles. These classes are more restorative and rely on gravity to help deepen postures and restore range of motion.
Restorative yoga is one of the most gentle and beginner friendly styles of yoga. This class focuses mostly on relaxation and holds restorative postures for long periods of time (up to 10 minutes!) Most postures are offered with modifications to help make them more comfortable depending on each individual student’s body. Props including blocks, straps, and blankets are also used to help students deepen or modify postures.
Prenatal yoga is specifically designed for pregnant women. It is can be tailored for women of all trimesters! This style of yoga is wonderful for expectant moms because it’s not only a great form of exercise but also helps mothers prepare for labor and delivery. It is practiced in a non-heated room, and most instructors are specifically certified to teach prenatal styles of yoga.
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Stephanie Morgan is a yoga instructor and fitness, fashion & lifestyle blogger from Chicago! Yoga has impacted her life in so many ways, and she loves having the opportunity to teach and share her practice with others. She hopes to encourage and inspire other people to follow their dreams and find new levels of possibility in their minds and bodies by bringing their practice off their mat and into their lives! You can find her blog at www.XoStephMorgan.com