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Types of Yoga and Their Benefits

Type of Yoga and their Benefits

Yoga is more popular now than ever before - but if you’re new to the practice, the many options can feel overwhelming. Whether you’ve never done yoga before or you just feel bored with your current routine, trying out different styles of yoga can help you find your flow. 

Yoga is an incredible tool for building strength, toning your body, and improving your spiritual wellbeing. But you won’t find success with the practice unless you choose a style that you enjoy and that suits your needs.

Do you want yoga to improve your physical health? Mental health? Both? Interested in a chill, restorative practice, or something that will help you gain the flexibility necessary for advanced yoga asanas?

Our guide walks you through the seven most prevalent types of yoga practiced today. 

 

By the end of this article, you’ll know which style of yoga is right for you and how to incorporate it into your life!

 

Vinyasa Flow

vinyasa Flow Yoga

When it comes to types of yoga practices, Vinyasa Flow is probably the one you’ll encounter most frequently. This energetic, fluid style focuses on a vinyasa sequence that includes common poses like chaturanga pushups, upward facing dog, and downward-facing dog. You’ll likely tackle warrior poses, arm balances, and standing balance work as well.

Vinyasa Flow is a modern amalgamation of ancient yoga practices. It emerged in response to the modern yogi’s need for a more active practice (due to a mostly sedentary lifestyle). Teachers often incorporate creative transitions, upbeat music, and reflections inspired by the principles of secular mindfulness meditation.

If you want to build strength, release pent-up energy, and gain the skills necessary to try #InstagramYoga poses, this style will be perfect for you.

 

Yin

Yin Yoga

If Vinyasa Flow captures the heat and vitality embodied by the sun, Yin centers around the tranquility and peacefulness of the moon. This relaxing, flexibility-enhancing practice focuses on long holds and deep breathing. It allows yogis to meditate in a comfortable and welcoming environment.

While yin does calm your nervous system, it’s not easy. Anyone who’s spent three minutes in pigeon pose knows this to be true! If you’re a type-A person who loves constant productivity, Yin may be the most challenging yoga style for you. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it.

Yin is an excellent fit for runners, cyclists, and athletes who need rest and recovery. It’s also a great way for new parents and hard-working business people to manage stress and learn tools to cope with discomfort effectively.

 

Ashtanga

Ashtanga yoga
Think of Ashtanga Yoga as the grandfather of Vinyasa Yoga. This regimented practice, created by  K. Pattabhi Jois in the 1940s, draws on ancient yogic principles while infusing them with a modern physicality that may intimidate some yogis. Never fear: This style follows six different ‘series’ of postures that range in difficulty from beginner to advanced. Ashtanga originated in Mysore, India, and many students still travel there for yoga retreats and trainings.

The powerful breathing exercises found in Ashtanga can help strengthen your immune system, while the repeating postures will build unparalleled physical strength. This practice is perfect for anyone who likes structure and repetition and wants to challenge themselves.

 

Iyengar

Iyengar Yoga

  1. K. S. Iyengar, one of the fathers of modern yoga and author of the bestselling book Light on Yoga, developed his unique style of practice in the 1960s. Iyengar yoga places great emphasis on alignment, intention, and detail.

While it may be harder to find this style of yoga in your community in comparison to the other types listed here, it’s worth seeking out. The strategic use of props and hands-on adjustments makes Iyengar yoga feel super-soothing and supportive. If you’re navigating chronic pain, injuries, or health issues, the slow pace and individual attention found in an Iyengar class will be the perfect fit.

 

Kundalini Yoga

Kundalini Yoga

If you find the spiritual benefits of yoga more compelling than the physical, Kundalini Yoga is the style for you. This practice teaches yogis to use chanting, mantras, breathing exercises, asana, and self-discipline to awaken their kundalini energy (a life-giving source of feminine energy believed to exist at the base of the spine). This energy actives chakra centers, helping every system in your body thrive. Kundalini practitioners often wear white and conduct their classes outdoors.

Whether you want to revitalize your connection with the divine feminine, dip your toes in Hinduism, or increase your spiritual fortitude, Kundalini will help you achieve your goals.

 

Rocket Yoga

Rocket Yoga

Rocket Yoga is a modern iteration of Ashtanga yoga created by one of K. Pattabhi Jois’ students, Larry Schulz.  It allows for more adaptation and creativity than Ashtanga, while still following the same basic structure. This fast-paced practice will whip you into shape, which may be why many celebrities and internet yoga sensations dabble in this style.

If you want to try a hip, modern practice with ancient roots (and maybe learn to stand on your hands while you’re at it!), check out Rocket Yoga in your area.

Hot Yoga

Hot Bikram Yoga

Hot Yoga has taken the world by storm in recent decades. Initially popularized by the problematic guru Bikram Choudhury, hot yoga studios have since cut ties with the manipulative founder while still offering his classic 26&2 classes (build around 26 postures and two breathing exercises, practiced in a 100-degree room with 40% humidity). If that sounds intense, it’s because it is!

However, people of all ages swear by the mental and physical benefits of hot yoga. It’s known to reduce joint pain, calm anxiety, and improve cardiovascular function. Many studios offer hot vinyasa flow classes if you prefer a less regimented approach.

If you’re still asking, ‘Which type of yoga is best for me?’, pick a style from this list and sign up for a class! The only way to know for sure whether you enjoy a particular type of yoga or not is to try it for yourself. All of the styles listed in this article will help you develop an increased mind-body connection, strengthen your respiratory system, and improve your overall wellbeing. It’s hard to argue with that. 

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