This centuries old practice provides a multitude of possible approaches to yoga. But before you you start a class you need to spend a few minutes on the following important elements:
- Deciding what your goals are for beginning yoga is a great place to start.
- Next determining what your physical needs are along with your personal health goals.
- Do you want to incorporate a spiritual element?
- Finally, how much time do you have?
Once you have set the parameters of your yoga practice you can then choose to begin at home or find a class in the style that you have chosen.
The origins of yoga are a complex and fascinating study. This article will focus on the 10 most common yoga practices used since the 1970’s. Most yoga styles have Hatha yoga postures at their core which have been organized in a specific way to accomplish different physical, emotional and spiritual intentions.
Hatha Yoga: Class is also likely to be focused on slow and gentle movements so it’s a great type of yoga to wind down with at night.
Vinyasa Yoga: Commonly called “Vinyasa flow” or just “flow”, you’ll definitely be moving, flowing from one pose to the next. Other than starting with a sun salutation, no two classes will be alike. It’s the most popular style of yoga in America. This form of music is often done to music.
Bikram Yoga: I practiced in 105 degree heat and in 40% humidity — hot! Bikram Yoga consists of 26 poses which are performed in the same order every class. The benefit is that wherever you take a class it will be taught the identical way. This form is great for strengthening balance, core, spine and knees. The classes are designed such that beginners and advanced students are comfortable in the same class. (Hot yoga can be similar to Bikram, but using different postures).
Kundalini Yoga: “Kundalini” refers to the energy of the Root Chakra, which surrounds the area around your lower spine. Expect lots of work in your “core” area. There is a great focus on breathe and breathing and classes are known to be pretty intense.
Ashtanga Yoga: Commonly called Power yoga, Ashtanga is definitely physically demanding. It’s probably best suited for an ex-athlete or someone looking to really push their body.
Iyengar Yoga: Expect lots of props with this type of yoga such as blocks, harnesses, straps, and even cushions. There’s also a lot of focus on alignment so Iyengar can be great for physical therapy.
Anusara Yoga: Founded in 1997 by John Friend, Anusara is epitomized by “the celebration of the heart. Based on the belief that we are all filled with an intrinsic goodness, Anusara seeks to use the physical practice of yoga to help students open their hearts, experience grace, and let their inner goodness shine through. Classes, which are specifically sequenced by the teacher to explore one of Friend’s Universal Principles of Alignment, are rigorous for the body and the mind.
Restorative Yoga: Looking to wind down after a long day of work? Or perhaps you want to quiet your mind? Restorative yoga might be the answer as it’s focused on relaxation.
Jivamukti Yoga: Jivamukti is mostly practiced in NYC as it was founded there in 1984 by Sharon Gannon and David Life. It’s a mix of Vinyasa flow sequencing infused with chanting and a vegetarian twist.
Prenatal Yoga: If you’re an expectant mother then prenatal yoga is probably for you. (Sorry, guys!) Some say that Prenatal is one of the best types of exercise for moms-to-be as there’s a lot of core work and a focus on breathing.
Remember, with all of the available resources, choose the practice that suites your needs best; and if you cannot find a class, start your yoga at home. Even 10-20 minutes a day will provide valuable health benefits!