Yoga has been widely known today as an alternative form of exercise in which both the body and the mind plays a crucial role in achieving a sense of balance and well being. Practicing yoga has many benefits, it improves blood circulation, lower blood pressure, improves posture, boosts the immune system, and strengthens the muscles.
Like many other forms of exercise, yoga has several different types, it may be overwhelming for people who would like to try it out for the first time. This is an in-depth guide explaining the different types of yoga and its benefits so you can decide which is the right for you.
From the word “Ha” meaning sun and “Tha” meaning moon, hatha yoga is the yoga of will and power. Hatha yoga is considered the main form of western yoga we’ve known today. We can see most yoga studios have hatha yoga as one of their practice, however, it is difficult to know for sure what type of program they have as hatha may include several different sub-types.
In general, hatha yoga focuses more on the physical aspect of yoga. This includes asanas or poses, holding them longer than any other yoga types. Hatha yoga does not have flows or movement synchronized with breathing in between poses, it also does not require any form of meditation or philosophy which makes this yoga practice much simpler than any other types.
The beginner poses for hatha yoga may start with a sukhasana pose or a mountain pose and moving to different asanas like a forward fold, downward dog, low lunge, and warrior pose. Hatha yoga is highly recommended for beginners as it requires you to hold your poses long enough to give you time to learn proper alignment and better feel each of the poses.
The word vinyasa means to place in a special way, vinyasa yoga is the yoga of dance-like flow and grace.
Vinyasa yoga is also a popular form of yoga that has several different sub-types as well. The difference that vinyasa yoga have with hatha yoga is that it includes flow in between poses and have a certain form of grace that can be similar to dancing. It normally does not hold poses longer as hatha but it incorporates breathing and meditation in between poses.
In its simpler form, vinyasa yoga includes asanas in a sequence and varies in progression. The sequence may involve advance poses followed by flows and can be paced faster depending on the instructor. As this form of yoga is slightly advanced than hatha, some of the poses may be altered for beginners.
The beginner pose sequence starts with a plank and then knees, chest, and chin pose and then a cobra and finally a downward facing dog. While the advanced sequence includes a plank and then a chaturanga pose transitioning into an upward facing dog pose and finally to a downward facing dog.
Vinyasa yoga is perfect for people who are already familiar with the yoga practice but want to try a more intensive form of yoga as it requires you to pace through different poses in a single sequence.
Developed by Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar or BKS Iyengar, this yoga is a form of hatha yoga that focuses on the precision of each pose with the help of props. Iyengar yoga is the yoga for body alignment and recovery.
Iyengar yoga is one of the sub-types of hatha yoga that focuses more on a detailed asana sequence paired with pranayama or breath control. As the Iyengar yoga is a detailed and precise form of yoga, there are different levels set per practitioner.
The props that are commonly used for Iyengar yoga include blocks, belts, chairs and customized wooden supports.
Iyengar yoga is recommended for both the young and old who like an organized and detailed form of yoga. It can also be practiced by people with injuries.
It is a form of yoga developed by Bikram Choudhury, this yoga is known for its consistency only having a certain set of sequence that also includes temperature control. Bikram yoga is the yoga of routine.
Bikram yoga is also derived from hatha yoga that consists of just a specific set of timed poses in a temperature controlled room. There are also different levels of Bikram yoga that varies depending on the length in which the poses are held. One of the main goals of Bikram is to sweat the toxins out of the system.
A Bikram sequence includes 26 asanas and 2 breathing poses in a room heated at exactly 105 degrees with around 40% humidity.
Bikram yoga is great for people who like a structured set of poses and for those who like to sweat during exercise.
From the word kundalini which is a Sanskrit word for the coiled one, it is referred to the primal energy ‘coiled’ at the base of the spine. Kundalini yoga aims to awaken the kundalini and is referred to as the most dangerous form of yoga.
Kundalini yoga is a combination of tantric meditation and hatha yoga. It is considered a challenging practice of yoga both mentally and physically. The main goal of kundalini yoga is to awaken the untapped chakra or energy that is hidden in the base of the spine. It is said that when your kundalini awakens you may feel a surge of energy through the body that triggers tremors or jerks in the arms and legs and may include sweating or shivering. It was said, however, that once you awaken your kundalini you may feel a sense of enlightenment and heightened consciousness.
The yoga sequence may include hatha yoga poses, meditation, advanced pranayama, and chanting of mantras.
Kundalini yoga is recommended for people who wanted to achieve not just physical but also a spiritual gain from yoga practice. Please note, however, that this type of yoga is not for the faint of heart.
Derived from the Taoist concept of yin and yang which are the opposing forces that are interconnected to one another where yin is considered as the shade, and also the feminine side. Yin yoga is the yoga of passivity.
Yin yoga focuses more on stretching the muscles for longer periods of time to promote flexibility. It normally held poses for a couple of minutes to slowly stretch the connective tissues of the joints. Most of its poses are on the floor and may sometimes need props to sustain the form of each pose. Classes are normally relaxed and can be meditative.
The yin sequence may include seating poses coupled with pranayama and supine poses that target specific tissues around the joints. Poses are normally held for around 3 to 5 minutes.
Yin yoga is perfect if you would like to improve flexibility through stretching and to relax through meditation.
It is also a type of yoga derived from BKS Iyengar’s teachings. As the name suggests, this type aims to restore the body from stress. Restorative yoga is the yoga of rest and relaxation.
Restorative yoga can be best practiced to mellow down from a day full of stress. Like Iyengar yoga, props can be used to promote deep relaxation. Like the yin yoga, you need to hold poses for longer periods of time as well. What differs restorative yoga from yin yoga is that it does not have advance stretching poses as it only aims to get rid of stress and to replenish the body.
The yoga sequence normally includes just 5 to 6 poses held for around 5 minutes. Props include blankets, bolsters, and foam blocks to aid the body in every pose.
Restorative yoga is highly recommended for people who want to relax and clear the mind of stress. It is also good for people with anxiety and insomnia.