As with so many things in life, the style of yoga that is best to improve your health will depend entirely on where you are starting from. An active athlete in the peak of fitness will be in a different place to a sedentary office worker contemplating their first activity since leaving school years before, and they will be in a different place to someone in recovery from a bad accident or injury. There are many great health benefits of yoga, so let us take a look at all of the types of yoga to choose from.
What Are the Healthiest Styles of Yoga?
Hatha yoga is something of an umbrella term for most yoga, especially when it is aimed at beginners. In this style of yoga, the basic poses are taught, learners are subject to gently stretch and hold techniques to build up their stamina and establish them as yogis in training. The breathing techniques used can be both calming or energizing.
Ideal for people who are already fit and looking to burn off some unwanted energy, Vinyasa yoga feels almost like a dance. It will stretch flexibility and stamina during a session, providing an almost immediate boost to the practitioner’s mood. This style of yoga is sometimes also referred to as power yoga or vinyasa flow.
Perfect for rehabilitation and those who have limited mobility, Iyengar yoga works to realign the joints and the body as a whole, using slow stretches, very precise movements – the use of cork yoga blocks, straps, and blankets to do this is quite acceptable – and careful shifts in position to restore flexibility, muscular strength, and mobility.
Ashtanga yoga is good for those who want to go to the session knowing exactly what they will be doing. This style of yoga uses a set sequence of poses. The same yoga postures and exercises are endlessly repeated in the same order at each session, which may sound dull, but in fact, allows the mind to wind down into zen-like calm and focus.
Bikram and Hot Yoga
These two yoga styles are bundled together as Hot Yoga is something of a corruption of Bikram Yoga. In Bikram yoga, the practitioner will repeat the same 26 positions and breathing exercises over a ninety-minute session – and this will be identical in any Bikram session anywhere in the world! Hot yoga does not limit itself to those positions in that order, but both types of yoga are performed in very warm rooms, which encourage perspiration and elevate circulation, heart rate, and more. Both require a good basic level of fitness.
The opposite of Vinyasa yoga, Yin yoga is very peaceful, restorative yoga with slow transitions and with positions being held for long, slow moments. At the same time, the practitioner focuses on maintaining their physical position and calming their mind, moving into a meditative state of mind. Yin yoga is exceptionally helpful if you suffer from chronic stress and tension.
How to Choose a Type of Yoga
Which type of yoga class is best for you? Well, that depends on where you are in your fitness and wellbeing journey. If you are in good basic health but not terribly fit, start with Hatha yoga – in fact, most people could easily start with Hatha yoga just to learn the positions, the terminology, and the beautiful greetings and phrases of the form. Athletes and those who are physically fit could move into the more energetic forms straight away, Bikram, Hot, or Vinyasa, depending on which seems like the best fit for you. At the same time, those whose minds are constantly clamoring with all the things to be done could benefit from gentle, restorative forms like Iyengar and Yen yoga. Which will you try first?