I used to dismiss yoga as a touchy feely excuse for exercise...until I tried it and was embarrassed by my lack of flexibility and isometric strength. I have since gained respect for this discipline. Yoga can range from easy relaxing, stretching, and breating to extremely difficult feats of strength and bending your body like a pretzel. Since there are so many different forms of yoga, I am pleased that Kennith Campbell was willing to do the following guest post and shed some more light on the many different forms of yoga.
Depending on how different people define the various yoga regimens out there, there are upwards of twenty styles you can try. If the thought of choosing a yoga regimen from all of those variations seems too intimidating, bring those hands to heart center, take a deep breath, and read on. Our guide will make things as simple as possible.
Hatha. If you've never done yoga before, this is probably the style you want. Hatha is gentle and slow, concentrating on the most basic poses and meditation techniques.
Iyengar. This style has you moving slowly and holding poses for longer, all while allowing you to utilize props like blankets, straps, and blocks to make them easier. Iyengar can be used by anyone, but is especially good for people who aren't as flexible because they're just starting out, recovering from injury, or older.
Ashtanga. A demanding style that requires you to synchronize your breathing while cycling through a continuous set of poses. Ashtanga will make you sweat - and that's the point. Because of its athletic nature, this style is not well-suited for beginners.
Bikram. Also known as "hot" yoga, this is a comprehensive workout designed to improve endurance, flexibility, and strength by practicing in temperatures between 95 and 105 degrees. This heat can be both good and bad for people not used to it, because it helps with detoxification and flexibility, as well as preventing injuries, but has also been known to make people dehydrate faster, feel faint, or even actually pass out.
Vinyasa. Much like Ashtanga, this style teaches you to match your breath to your movements, but Vinyasa's adherence to basic poses and moderate speed makes it acceptable for beginners and more advanced students alike.
Ananda. If you're into the mental and spiritual aspects of yoga, give this one a try. The postures are designed to be gentle so that your energy will move up to your brain and help with meditation.
Anusara. Another form of yoga that delves into the spiritual, Anusara is also more physical than Ananda because the postures can be quite challenging at times.
ISHTA. An acronym that stands for Integral Science of Hatha and Tantric Arts, this style combines postures with meditation and visualizations to help open energy channels in your body.
Jivamukti. For those who truly believe in the scriptural teachings of yoga, this style is a variation of Asana that calls for meditation, non-violence, vegetarianism, chanting, and devotion to God.
Integral. A traditional form that combines physical and spiritual aspects of yoga, such as breathing exercises, prayer, meditation, postures, selflessness, chanting, and self-inquiry.
Kali Ray TriYoga. This is where yoga meets dance, with all postures flowing into each other while you engage in breathing and meditation exercises.
Kundalini. Typically, classes involve meditation, chanting, breathing exercises, and awakening spinal energy and drawing it up.
Restorative. If you see yoga more as a way to relieve stress than anything else, you might love this style. In typical classes you'll spend lots of time just lying around on props like blocks and blankets and allowing your muscles to relax.
Power. An Americanized version of Ashtanga that focuses on calisthenics-like poses and increases the pace of the exercises to make them intensely aerobic, helping to build muscle.
Kripalu. Very focused on the mental and spiritual, with only a minimum amount of attention paid to the physical aspect of the poses. The goal is to reach a point where you're barely aware of the pose that you're doing because you're so engaged in your inner world.
White Lotus. This modified Ashtanga combines meditation and breathwork.
Viniyoga. A style often practiced by people recovering from injuries. Viniyoga instructors tailor the exercises to each person's abilities and change them as the person recovers.
Svaroopa. Another great type of yoga for newbies, Svaroopa helps with transformation and healing by beginning with comfortable chair poses.
Sivananda. Similar to Integral yoga, with meditation, scriptural study, chanting, dietary restrictions, breathing, and postures all playing a role in the style.
About the Author: Kennith Campbell enjoys writing about hockey conditioning. When he’s not busy writing he enjoys watching hockey with his two daughters and working out.