Wellness is a connection of paths: knowledge and action. – Joshua Welch
Yoga has been becoming more and more popular in the Western world today. The number of Yoga studios and classes continue to skyrocket and there are several different types of yoga to explore.
With plenty of choices from Hatha Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Power Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, Bikram Yoga, and Vinyasa Yoga, it can definitely challenging to find the right fit for your needs.
Let’s go over the difference between the most popular types of Yoga so you can determine which category is right for you.
In Sanskrit (an ancient classical language of India) Ha means sun and that means moon which reminds me of the balance of the Yin and Yang . This type of Yoga is relatively slow-paced, gentle, and is a good place to begin. If you’re a yoga newbie and have not yet learned any of the asanas (poses) then Hatha yoga is a great starting point. Like the basis of all types of Yoga, Hatha Yoga aspires to unite the mind, body, and spirit.
This type of Yoga means eight limbs in Sanskrit and will be a full-body experience. It’s a fast-moving, intense style of Yoga based on a continuous set of asanas, synchronized with the breath. Ashtanga Yoga can be quite physically demanding as you are constantly being directed to transition from one asana intonext, so you may find that your stamina will improve as well as your flexibility and strength.
Also known as Yoga Flow, this is a western interpretation of Yoga that is based on the basics of Ashtanga Yoga. A Power Yoga class may not necessarily stick to the exact sequence of poses like Ashtanga Yoga does, but it does involve practicing a series of poses without stopping and starting. The transition from one pose to the next is intended to be smooth.
This type of Yoga is based on teachings by B.K.S Iyengar, who developed a style of yoga that is characterized in the practice of asana and pranayama with the innovative approach emphasizing precision and alignment, planned sequencing, timing and the use of blocks and straps to help align the body into different poses. Iyengar concentrates on the correct alignment and form of the body.
Unlike Ashtanga Yoga, there is an emphasis on holding each pose for a long period of time instead of moving constantly from one pose to the next.
Vinyasa means breath-synchronized movement and is another fast-paced type of Yoga, with an emphasis on breathing. A practice typically starts with sun salutations and moves on to more intense stretching. Throughout the practice, each pose is balanced with a counterpose.
Also called Hot Yoga, it is practiced in a room heated to 40 degrees Celsius, with a humidity of around 40%. Generally, a sequence of 26 different poses is practiced during a Bikram Yoga class and the hot temperature helps to loosen muscles. Due to the high temperature most people sweat a lot during the class and this helps to cleanse the body of toxins.
If you are just starting out or have never done any Yoga before, I recommend trying a few different types of yoga to find out what you like best. I had been interested in yoga for many years and would occasionally take a class for a few months and try something new. It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with anxiety that I truly appreciated the positive changes that it could have on my mind and body.
While recovering from burnout, my doctor suggested that I try a local yoga class – what he really wanted was for me to get out of the house, surround myself with people and move my body. I signed up for a ten class trial and feel in love with hot yoga! Here is why it works for me so well:
- The room at 40-degrees Celcius makes me feel like I’m on a beach vacation
2) Until the class starts I would lie on my yoga mat and focus on breathing – I imagine myself lying in the sun’s rays, breathing in the ocean air.
3) The stretches to begin the class, such as cat-cow and sun salutations, awaken my body and muscles to remind me of the strength that I possess to get through the day.
4) The heat in the room enables my body to achieve more than I think I am capable of. I am reminded of how I need to trust in my abilities and push past my imagined limitations to truly achieve my goals.
5) By the end of the class, known as Savasana, I am exhausted – in a good way! The highlight for me is that my yoga teacher puts a cold face cloth that has been infused with eucalyptus oil on my forehead to cool down. My brain is calm and I am reminded of a wonderful day at a spa. I am Zen and it only took 1 hour to achieve this bliss.
Remember, there is no rule that says you have to stick to one type of Yoga. I enjoy Bikram Yoga the most, but I also started to practice Power and Hatha Yoga classes for a bit of variety and build on the positive changes that I have experienced in my mind and physical body.