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Health and Fitness News

What’s Your Yoga Style?

If you’re looking to get into yoga, here’s the lowdown on some of the major styles to choose from.

Yoga is yoga, right? Wrong. People who are new to yoga may not realize there are many different types of yoga. What’s the difference between Hatha and Anusara? What about hot restorative and Bikram? While most yoga styles incorporate the same postures, each style has different emphases, ability levels, approaches to teaching, and focuses. So if you’ve tried yoga and felt it didn’t fit, maybe you just need the right type. Before deciding yoga isn’t your thing, try a few different classes and you may find a place for yoga in your routine.

Known for the many health benefits, yoga offers increased strength, muscle tone, energy, and flexibility; improved circulation, heart health, sleep, posture, and mood; and reduced pain, anxiety, depression, and risk for injury. With so many perks, it’s no wonder yoga has stood the test of time.

As you consider which yoga class to try, check out some of the differences between the different styles and pick one that fits you!

Hatha

Most yoga classes are Hatha yoga. Hatha just means the class teaches basic physical postures and breathing exercises. Typically for beginners, Hatha yoga is slow-paced and gentle on people out of shape. You may not be pushed to your limits, but after the class you’ll feel more relaxed and flexible.

Anusara

Developed a little more than 20 years ago by a man named John Friend, Anusara yoga is based on the theory that everyone is intrinsically good. With this type of yoga, participants are encouraged to open their hearts to experience grace and let their goodness be seen. Each class moves through a sequence of postures based on what are known as Universal Principles of Alignment. Three parts of the class include attitude, alignment, and action.

Bikram

A man named Bikram Choudhury developed Bikram yoga approximately 30 years ago. Similar to hot yoga, but with a slightly different series of poses, Bikram yoga classes are undertaken in heated rooms. As you work through 26 different poses over the course of 90 minutes in as much as 105˚ F heat, you’ll sweat a lot. To avoid dangerous dehydration, drink lots of water before, during, and after class.

Ashtanga

Founded in the 1960s by Pattabhi Jois, Ashtanga yoga is a series of poses performed in the same order. Unlike some other yoga forms, Ashtanga is a fast-paced and physically challenging yoga that moves you rapidly from one pose to another. Each move is performed with a specific breathing pattern.

Restorative

Like its name implies, restorative yoga is designed to bring relaxation and rejuvenation to practitioners. Instead of working hard to hold your body up in various poses, restorative yoga incorporates the use of blocks, blankets, and bolsters to prop participants up in passive poses. Each position is held for several minutes to stretch the muscles. With restorative yoga, you get the benefit of the various poses without exerting yourself.

Iyengar

Designed by B.K.S Iyengar, Iyengar yoga is focused on proper alignment in each pose. With the use of props, you learn to hold each pose in perfect form. You may not break a sweat, but you will be put to the test mentally and physically. Since it is slow moving and led by knowledgeable instructors, this type of yoga is ideal for people new to yoga and those with injuries or chronic health conditions.

Vinyasa

Meaning “to place in a special way,” Vinyasa yoga works you through a fluid progression of physically challenging poses. Breathing is linked to movement and music may be incorporated to lighten the atmosphere. A popular form of yoga and faster moving than Hatha, the poses in Vinyasa are similar to Ashtanga, but with no specific order.