Different Types of Yoga: Which Type of Yoga is Best for You?On by
More than 6,000 years ago, Yoga was developed and practiced by the ancient Indus-Sarasvati civilization from Northern India.
Due to the nature of how the sacred texts were being documented in the early days, such as on palm leaves, these were damaged easily or long lost and forgotten.
The beginnings of the Yogic scriptures can be traced back and divided into four main categories: Pre-Classical Yoga, Classical Yoga, Postclassical Yoga, and Modern Yoga.
Fast forward to our present modern-day period, Yoga centers are conveniently accessible all over the world and even practiced in the comfort of our own homes.
Yoga was usually taught by direct transmission from the teacher to the student, providing guidance on how to master the mind, grow spiritually and improve overall wellbeing by being able to deal with one’s own emotions and mental state.
While you think that the origins of Yoga are starting to get pretty philosophical (which it actually is!), fret not as we are not going to start going into deep religious studies.
Yoga is widely practiced today for not only mental health but for our physical health and to stay in shape.
Besides being a great way to manage stress, it also particularly improves the state of your nervous system, along with building physical strength and stamina while allowing the mind to remain calm at the same time.
Now that you know the origins of Yoga and how it can benefit you, you have probably come across the various types of Yoga such as Hatha Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Bikram Yoga, and many others.
Before you start pulling your hair out on which type of yoga you should try, you will realize which style is most suitable for you once you know the differences – it’s not tough, really!
1. Hatha Yoga
I commonly hear people say, “But I’m not flexible!”. If you are one of them, I would say “Then it’s perfect for you.”.
The whole point is, practicing Yoga will make you more flexible, just like how running will build your stamina and how reading will improve your vocabulary.
In fact, Hatha Yoga is great for beginners as the poses are relatively simple along with some relaxation techniques.
Hatha Yoga is generally more slow-paced, focusing on one pose with meditation and basic pranayama breathing exercises.
2. Vinyasa Yoga
Vinyasa Yoga is a vigorous style that is based on the rapid flow of sun salutations, meaning that you are transitioning from one pose to the other without stopping.
Some Yoga centers will use the term Hatha Yoga Flow, whereas at other times you hear the term Vinyasa Yoga or Vinyasa Yoga Flow.
So you just read about Hatha Yoga and now you’re confused with Hatha Yoga Flow. Basically, when you see the word “Flow”, you can take it that it refers to going from one pose to the next continuously.
Different centers and instructors may have a slight difference in interpretation based on their teaching methods so always clarify with the center or instructor if you are unsure.
3. Ashtanga Yoga
Commonly practiced by those who want to lose weight, Ashtanga Yoga is fast-paced compared to Hatha Yoga.
There are a total of 6 series (each is being held for only 5 breaths), with increasing difficulty as you progress to the next one.
It is definitely more physically challenging and classes are normally accompanied by senior instructors.
The practice is meant to generate heat, so it is like an intense cardio session and you will definitely be burning fat.
Yup, be prepared to sweat a lot.
4. Yin Yoga
If you are a very stressed person, you might want to try out Yin Yoga as it is known to relieve stress, promote deep relaxation, and improve your nervous system.
Each pose can be as short as 2 minutes and can be as long as up to 20 minutes, focusing on deep breaths and stretches.
It is also good for ailments like painful joints as the ligaments and connective tissues are being targeted in the process.
5. Bikram Yoga
The funny thing about Bikram Yoga is that no matter which Yoga center you go to, be sure to expect the exact same 26 postures and 2 breathing techniques in the same sequence for an hour and a half, in a room that is heated to the same temperature (105°F or 40.6°C) and humidity levels.
You will most certainly be sweating as it is meant to flush out toxins from your body and will challenge you both physically and mentally.
6. Iyengar Yoga
Iyengar Yoga is also known as Yoga Therapy, as the poses can help you recover from physical injury.
The poses are held much longer than usual and there is a pause in between each pose, giving you time to rest and perfect your position so you are unlikely to sprain something.
The instructors are trained in biomechanics, so they understand and teach you how to modify certain positions to avoid injury and ensure proper musculoskeletal alignment.
They will use props such as blocks, bolsters, and even blankets to achieve various postures.
Now that you have an understanding of the various types of yoga, you should have an idea of which type will suit you best based on your purpose.
Choosing the right yoga center to go to is as equally important as choosing the type of yoga you want to practice.
In order to choose the right center, ensure that all yoga instructors are properly trained, and make sure you feel comfortable there.
The ambiance and location of the center should appeal to you. Facilities like lockers, shower rooms, and mats should be provided, so don’t forget to compare or check with the center.
If you don’t feel at ease with large classes that are fully booked with people, you might want to find one that is less crowded or perhaps book a class at a good timing where it will be less packed.
Trial classes are largely available everywhere so why not try them out before signing up at any?
I wish you all the best of luck!