Recently, a new wave of hipster-yogis has emerged, highlighting this super-zen workout in all its meditative glory. But if you’re not familiar with yoga and the different types, or if you’re just starting out, this handy little guide will point you in the right direction. So, read on, grasshopper.
Bikram Yoga: This yoga type generally focuses on the standing asanas (poses), with only a handful of poses that require you to lay on your back or stomach. Bikram yoga is best practiced in highly-heated rooms with an ideal humidity of 40%. Needless to say, you’re gonna be sweating a lot. Unlike other yoga types, Bikram moves much faster and forces you to flow through your poses with your breath. If you’re confident in your yoga practice and are a veteran yogi, or just want an added challenge, definitely give this class a try. You won’t get bored.
Vinyasa: This is another fast-paced yoga type. Also practiced in heated rooms (although not always), vinyasa focuses strictly on the breath and transition between each pose. All the poses are linked together, and many times throughout the practice, you will be instructed to go through your “vinyasa flow,” as you return to your foundation poses and eventually more advanced asanas. This is definitely a workout!
Ashtanga: You want to learn how to put your leg behind your head? This is the yoga to teach you just that. Ashtanga is a sub-type of Vinyasa, meaning that the connection to breath is still enforced. However, this yoga type is broken down into series, beginning with the Primary Series and working into Advanced. Before you know it, you’ll be sitting comfortably with limbs in all directions.
Hatha (Stationary Sequence): This is one of the more popular yoga types, and is great for beginners. While some classes are heated, others are not, and don’t fall for the hype — you are just as bendy in a heated room as you are in a cool room. Hatha or Stationary Sequence doesn’t stress too much on the connection between poses and breath (although you should strive for that!), but, as the name suggests, it moves somewhat rigidly from one pose to the next. It is meant to give you an introduction into all the different poses, building your foundation, and kicking your yogi butt at the same time.
Iyengar: This yoga type is much slower than the rest, as it focuses more on the small details of posture and alignment. In this class, you are more likely to sit or stand in certain poses longer, finding each bone and feeling minute movements as you settle into each pose. If you want a relaxed yet effective yoga, this is surely your fit. Be ready to learn more about your body than you’ve ever known.
Kundalini: Get ready to release your serpent! Kundalini yoga is all about breathing and meditating, with the physical postures focusing on enhancing that breathing. You won’t be sweating all over your mat, but mentally, you’ll be riding a yoga buzz. If you’re looking to learn more about your chakras and how to open them, this is a yoga to try.
In essence, none of these yoga types are set in stone for anyone. Ideally, you should shop around and see what fits you the best, and you’ll never know unless you take a few classes here and there. Together with other workouts and physical activities, yoga can be a wonderful new addition to your daily regiment.