So maybe you’ve been to your local yoga studio a couple of times, maybe you’ve been to a few classes, but did you know there are many different types of yoga? In this article we’re going to cover the main 7 types of yoga and the benefits of each one. This way the next time you look up local yoga classes you can find one that fits your needs!
This school of yoga was started by an American-born instructor named John Friend. His style is dervied from Iyengar yoga (which we’ll cover later). He reintroduced elements of Hinduism into the practice and was using a more health-oriented approach. The main points of this practice are based on the ‘three A’s’; Attitude, Alignment, and Action. Attitude, as defined by Friend, is the “power of the heart as a force behind every actions. Alignment is based on mindfulness and an understanding of how our bodies are connected to our minds and spirit. Action is the “natural flow of energy in the body” and Friend says that this brings joy and peace into our lives. These classes are rigorous to the body and to the mind, so be prepared to work mentally as well as physically.
This style of yoga was popularized and brought to western cultures by a man named K. Pattabhi Jois during the 20th century. This practice is based on connecting the breath with the movements of the body. The poses are always in the exact same sequence each time, which is what sets it apart from other yoga practices. This practice is physically demanding so be prepared to get sweaty!
3. Bikram/Hot Yoga
Bikram/Hot yoga is one of the most intense types of yoga. The room is heated 105 degrees Farenheit and is made up of 26 poses. The difference between Bikram and Hot Yoga is that the creator of Bikram, Bikram Choudhury, tried to copyright his yoga sequence and sued many studios for trying to call themselves Bikram without going through his specific training. Hot yoga is generally the same, but with slight variations and without the ‘Bikram’ title. This is a great class to sweat out toxins and learn how to control your breath. I personally have done hot yoga and I loved it! Even though it’s difficult during the class, you feel amazing afterwards!
This practice emphasizes physical exercise as a way to master the mind and withdraw from the surrounding world. The word Hatha in sanskrit means ‘force’. Hatha yoga was a broad movement that developed in many different parts of Indian. Many times this practice is simply called ‘Yoga’. Hatha Yoga Pradipika is one of the most influential texts on yoga and was complied in the 15th century by Svatmarama. You probably won’t be sweating in this class, but you will leave feeling more relaxed and loose.
This style was popularized by B.K.S. Iyengar. This practice focuses on detail, precision, and alignment, in both postures and breath control. The idea is to align the mind, body, and spirit to promote all around well-being. What sets this apart is that the instructor in this class will actively fix misalignments or errors in posture. If you have a chronic condition or an injury, this yoga probably isn’t for you. If you want to challenge yourself mentally and physically without working up too much of a sweat, then this is the class for you!
6. Restorative (Yin Yoga)
I’ve found this class is the best if you’re feeling stressed. Restorative yoga uses bolsters, blankets, and blocks to prop the students into poses without them having to exert themselves. This class increases blood flow and flexibility without the student having to work too hard. This type of class is wonderful for releasing tension and stress, and many times the instructor uses essential oils in these classes.
Last but definitely not least is Vinyasa yoga! This practice focuses on flowing movements and breaths. Vinyasa teachers will choreograph their classes in order to produce sequences that flow together and students can easily transition from pose to pose. This practice, just as the Ashtanga practice, focuses on connecting movements with breath. If you aren’t big on routine and want to test yourself physically, vinyasa is the way to go!
Now that you know a bit about each practice you have a better idea of which class might suit you best! If you’re interested in yoga it’s important to look into the history and religious/spiritual practices that are attached to yoga and educated yourself on how to be the best yogi and your best you! Namaste!
Here’s a great beginner video by one of my favorite youtube yoga instructors Sara Beth!