Name a method or philosophy, and it’ll have countless variations. Yoga is no exception. Each of the most popular types of yoga stresses different things, making it ideal for different people. However, all forms stress correct fundamentals and pose.
Iyengar involves the use of props and slow pose progression so correct form is learned, making it useful for beginners or people not used to exercise. The many props also assist people with back or joint problems. It focuses on certain classical poses of yoga, providing the fundamentals for any other style of yoga you happen to try. Iyengar yoga eases tension and chronic pain, while toning muscles.
Athletes prefer Ashtanga, commonly called “power yoga.” The meditation element of yoga is downplayed, and the building of flexibility, stamina, and strength is heavily stressed. A warm temperature is beneficial to this style, to lessen muscle strain. Ashtanga yoga focuses on breathing control with the movements and on the eyes’ focal point. Movement between poses is swift to make a physically demanding workout, even for beginner lessons, so people not used to exercise shouldn’t start with it.
Bikram is better known as “hot yoga,” because this highly physical and intense type takes place in a hot room. It’s been shown to relieve chronic pain and disease symptoms with regular practice. Bikram yoga should be attempted by people somewhat used to exercise.
Hatha is a comparatively mellow form of yoga, and most other popular types of yoga are its derivatives. Comfortable pacing is stressed, as is taking your time with the poses. Meditation and breathing are stressed. Hatha yoga is considered a relaxing method for winding down at the end of the day. In general, though, the term can apply to most physical types of yoga.
Kundalini incorporates chanting (or mantras), guided relaxation, meditations, and visualizations into yoga. It seeks to heal and “purify” the body, emotions, and mind. Precise postures, sounds, and breathing are combined for specific results. People overcoming addictions have found Kundalini yoga particularly useful. Sivananda is another precise type, like Bikram and Kundalini, with a set series of 12 poses. Sivananda yoga uses mantras, relaxation, breathing exercises, and the Sun Salute as its basis.
Kripalu works in stages, though it’s overall smoother, more spontaneous, and meditation oriented than other types. The first stage involves short poses, and the second stage lengthens the poses and adds meditation. The final stage in Kripalu yoga involves swift spontaneous changing of yoga postures while meditating.
Vinyasa means “breath-synchronized movement.” It’s generally vigorous (though this term is, like “Hatha,” used to describe a number of class types). Vinyasa yoga focuses on a series of Sun Salutations.
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