Soon after deciding to learn yoga, many of us face the overwhelming question of what kind of yoga to begin with. The great thing about yoga is its ability to blend with other forms of exercise, spirituality and dance. It can be fast or slow, rigorous or mild, and modern or traditional. No wonder there are countless types of yoga out there that offer unique benefits to people with different minds and bodies. Here are 8 you can pick from.
7 Unique Types of Yoga You can Choose From
One of the most traditional forms of yoga that originated thousands of years ago, Hatha yoga is all about building a rigid foundation. So, it’s a popular choice among those who have little or no practice in yoga or other forms of physical exercise. As compared to other types of yoga, Hatha yoga is slower, milder, easier to practice, and much safer. It puts together asanas as well as pranayama that make you more flexible, strong, balanced, disciplined and harmonious.
Another ancient and traditional type, Ashtanga yoga is assumed to have been practiced in India 5,000 years ago. The sage Patanjali compiled the practices in a book and laid out the path of Ashtanga yoga for beginners. The word Ashtanga translates to “8 limbs”. In this system, yoga is much more than asanas (although asanas form an integral part of it). Ashtanga yoga takes you on a journey to enlightenment through 8 steps:
- Personal discipline
- Turning senses inward
If you’re seeking something intensely spiritual, this might be your type. Kundalini is your “shakti” or dormant primordial energy at the base of your spine. When you awaken your Kundalini, this energy works its way up to your crown through all the chakras, bringing you into a higher state of consciousness. Kundalini yoga aims to make this happen with a combination of asanas, mantra chanting, meditation, breathing techniques and energy work. Be prepared to have some out-of-the-world experiences!
Named after its founder B.K.S Iyengar, this type of yoga is all about precision. Teachers of Iyengar yoga typically have many years of experience and a solid understanding of body anatomy, physiology, alignment and movement. In short, they take the human body quite seriously. Iyengar yoga is famous for its frequent use of props like belts, blocks and pillows. This is to make sure that your posture is as exact as can be. It also makes it possible for people with injuries, disabilities, illnesses and different kinds of bodies to practice the asanas.
Vinyasa yoga is all about vigour – it involves practising asanas in a fast, intense and dynamic way. The thing people love? Vinyasa yoga has a certain flow to it, which almost makes you feel like you’re dancing. Moreover, you’d often practise to upbeat music. In this style, movement and breath work very closely together. The asanas really get your blood flowing and energies soaring. All in all, it’s a fun workout with the spiritual perks that come with yoga, like mind-body awareness and improved breathing capacity.
Bikram yoga heats things up…quite literally! It’s a sequence of 26 poses you’d practise in a room heated to around 105°F (40.6°C) and 40% humidity. The heat and humidity help your body detoxify, shed fat and perform asanas with fluidity. Bikram yoga classes are extremely uniform and consistent – you’ll practise the same 90 minute sequence everywhere you go. This type isn’t for everyone since it can be quite challenging, but once you get the hang of it, you might get hooked.
Yin yoga is all about relaxation. One of the most slow, mild and pleasant types of yoga, it involves practising asanas in a meditative state of mind and for a longer duration of time. Besides having the obvious benefit of helping you release your tensions and experience deep serenity, Yin yoga also improves blood circulation and makes the body more flexible. If you’re looking for a healthy way to unwind, Yin yoga is perhaps just the right thing for you.