Although there are several branches of Yoga Asanas, these branches have some similarities with each other so they are related and having knowledge about the characteristics that unite the different types of yoga can greatly help you to benefit even more in the practice.
On the other hand, among so many yoga options that are available, you may wonder which one you should try, for some it may even be alarming to come across such a high number of types of yoga. But really, don’t be afraid, just like cross-training, incorporating a variety of yoga types into your regular practice can help you stay balanced.
You can also try a few different styles and then stick with the one that works best for you for a good amount of time and dedicate yourself to practicing it. Keep in mind that if you don’t like a yoga class on the first day, that’s no reason to put it aside and try something new.
The principle shared by the types of Yoga Asanas
You will find that each type of Yoga Asanas has a slightly different definition or interpretation. This is why we see things like goat yoga (known for doing yoga with running and jumping goats) popping up alongside traditional forms like Iyengar and Ashtanga.
But most of all, yoga ignores the «no pain, no gain» philosophy that abounds in the fitness communities. Yoga is not a place to push yourself forward, go beyond your limit, or ignore your body. The main principle is Ahimsa, or do no harm, and it starts with choosing the type of yoga that is right for you.
Choosing the Right Type of Yoga Asanas for You
When you’re trying to determine which of the different types of Yoga Asanas is best for you, remember that there is no right or wrong, just one that might not be right for you right now.
Like any form of exercise, choose something you want to do. Bikram or Iyengar may appeal to you if you are a very detailed person. If you are more of a free spirit, Vinyasa or aerial yoga can be fun. Ideally, you should find a class that you are excited to attend.
So which one will excite you? The most common types of yoga will be explained below along with their similarities and differences, which can help you decide if you are in a more restorative yoga mood, energy yoga, or something in between.
These are the basics in slower moving classes that require you to hold each pose for a few breaths. In many studies, hatha classes are considered a gentler form of Yoga Asanas. However, the Sanskrit term «hatha» actually refers to any yoga that teaches physical postures. It is a practice of the body, a physical practice that balances these two energies. So really, it’s all hatha yoga.
Ideal for beginners due to its slower pace, hatha is a great class if you are just beginning your yoga practice.
Flow in this dynamic practice that unites movement and breath in a dance-like way. In most classes, you won’t take long in each pose and the pace can be fast, so be prepared for your heart rate to increase. Teachers often pump out music, matching the beats to the sequences of the poses.
Intense athletes may enjoy Vinyasa due to its faster pace. Runners and endurance athletes are also drawn to the Vinyasa class because of the continuous movement.
Here you will get finicky about precision and details, as well as the alignment of your body in each pose. Accessories, from yoga blocks and blankets to straps or a wall of ropes, will become your new best friend, helping you work within a safe and effective range of motion. Unlike Vinyasa, each pose is held for a period of time. If you are new to Iyengar, even if you have practiced other types of Yoga Asanas, it is good to start with a level one class to familiarize yourself with the technique.
It is recommended for detail-oriented yogis. If you like learning about anatomy, movement and form, you’ll love Iyengar – teachers share a lot of information during class. Iyengar can also be practiced at any age and is ideal for people with injuries (although you should consult a doctor first).
If you’re looking for a challenging yet orderly approach to Yoga Asanas, try Ashtanga. Consisting of six sets of specifically sequenced yoga poses, you will flow and breathe through each pose to generate internal heat. The problem is that you will be performing the same poses in the exact same order in each class. Some studios will have a teacher call out the poses, while Mysore-style classes (a subset of Ashtanga) require you to do the series on your own. (But don’t worry, there will always be a teacher in the room to offer help if you need it.) If you are a perfectionist, you will like the routine and strict guidelines of Ashtanga.
Bikram Yoga Asanas
Get ready to sweat: Bikram consists of a specific series of 26 poses and two breathing exercises practiced in a heated room. All Bikram studios practice the same 90 minute sequence so you know exactly what to do once you roll out your mat. Remember, vigorous practice combined with heat can make class feel exhausting. If you’re new to Bikram, take it easy: rest when you need to, and make sure to hydrate beforehand.
It’s best for people who gravitate toward a set routine. Those who are newer to yoga may like Bikram because of its predictable sequence.
Celebrity devotees have given Kundalini a cult following. However, this physically and mentally challenging practice looks very different than the typical yoga class. You will perform kriyas, repetitive physical exercises coupled with intense breath work, while also chanting and meditating. The goal? Break down your inner barriers, releasing the untapped energy that resides within you and bringing you a higher level of self-awareness.
It is recommended for people seeking a spiritual practice. Those looking for more than just a workout may enjoy Kundalini for its emphasis on the inner aspects of yoga, including breath work, meditation, and spiritual energy.
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