In today's stressed out world, yoga has become very popular as it is proven to help calm the mind, release tension and alleviate anxiety. More than just helping those afflictions, yoga is also well known for its physical aspects – toning muscles, improving flexibility & posture, losing weight, etc.
There are numerous benefits of beginning a yoga practice and many different types of yoga from which to choose. Just look up "yoga" in the online directory and see all the options! It can be difficult to know which type of yoga works best with individual needs, and there is no one "best" yoga to study – only a practice that works differently for each person depending on his or her personality, needs and skill level.
There are Six Main Types of Yoga:
Hatha Yoga – This is one of the most common practices of yoga, encompassing many of the physical types of yoga. Going through many different sequences and poses, It is gentle and smooth in its moments – excellent for beginners.
Ashtanga Yoga – A type of fast-paced, intense flow style of yoga, it means "eight-limbed yoga" in Sanskrit and was written about in Yoga Sutras by Pantanjali. It is very physically demanding and goes through the same pose sequence every time. A person can go to any Ashtanga class in the world and do the same sequence of poses. If a class is called "Power Yoga," it will be based on Ashtanga. It is a good class for all levels of yogis and for athletic beginners.
Iyengar Yoga – This practice of yoga focuses on learning the right alignment and balance within the body with postures and movement series. The more advanced the class, the longer the positions are held (up to 10 minutes), and this type of yoga uses many props (belts, blocks, blankets, bolsters). It is an excellent class for beginners as it teaches all asanas and challenges the practitioner to do all types of balancing poses, inversions (headstands) and is a great "foundation" yoga.
Bikram Yoga – Also known as "Hot Yoga," the practice of Bikram yoga is done in a heated room in order to loosen up the muscles and promote sweating / cleansing. Towels should be brought to this class! Bikram is very intense for beginners and sometimes practiceers feel nausea and dizziness, which is typically caused by dehydration. A person should drink more than the minimum of 8 to 10 oz of water during the day before class and not eat immediately beforehand. Also, taking potassium and salt tablets can assist with this cleaning (sweating) process.
Vinyasa Yoga – This type of yoga can include all types of "flow" yoga and is sometimes done with music. Vinyasa means "breath-synchronized movement" and a pose is done on each inhale and each exhale. There are different types of classes – some are slow and some are fast, and this is a good type of yoga for beginners.
Kundalini Yoga – Also focusing an emphasis on the breath in physical movement, this type of yoga uses rapid, repetitive movements and is high intensity. The teacher will often lead the class in chanting. This is good for a moderate to expert yoga practitioner as it refines breathing control (motion, speed and location) in poses.
There is a yoga style for every individual and you should try out different types to learn the best fit for your needs. The majority of yoga schools offer a free trial class, and that will help you see whether the yoga style is a match.
All yoga teachers are different and the right teacher will make a difference in an individual's practice. Think about personal preferences:
Do you want a teacher that talks through the class or one that silently observes between positions? Do you want a teacher that focuses the class on breathing and allows a long meditation time or one that gives a high-intensity physical workout? Do you want a teacher that is very hands on and adjusts you in poses or do you not like people to touch you?
Good luck on your yoga journey!