Iyengar Yoga is the perfect type of yoga for those of us who really want to relax deeply while getting some amazingly thorough all-over body stretching. Moving slowly, Iyengar practices hold precisely aligned poses for a minute or more, often utilizing straps, blocks, cushions and blankets. Iyengar is excellent for those recovering from an injury, the elderly and those who are disabled.
With gaining popularity thanks to Daniel Craig, Madonna, Demi Moore, George Clooney, Jenny McCarthy and Rebecca Romijn (pause for breath), and not for the faint of heart, Bikram yoga is set in a room that is heated to anywhere from 95 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit. This is to increase the intensity of the practice on the body, increasing strength, flexibility, and detoxification through sweating. Excellent for those on detox programs and those seeking weight loss benefits, Bikram does come with a few warnings. Always leave the room if you are feeling overheated, always rest when you feel the need to, and always replace lost electrolytes with coconut water right afterwards.
Ashtanga is known in the West more for its integration of ‘cardio’ into the practice. It is faster and more difficult, making it the go-to for gym rats and experienced yogis. If you’re looking for a practice that is more aggressive and has less calming properties, this is for you. Ashtanga classes will have you sweating and almost always sore the day after.
Started by Krishnamacharya who later passed it on to Sri Pattabhi Jois, Vinyasa yoga is a very active form of yoga. Known for its flowing sequences and focus on the breath, this type of yoga will most likely have you sweating, and yet somehow is also invigorating and relaxing at the same time. Perhaps it is the repetitive flowing sequences in combination with the calming music that has this type of yoga bringing in those who feel like their yoga practices can be more intense than the general Hatha yoga classes. If you would like to add a little speed and intensity to your Hatha yoga practice, this is the one for you.
Hatha yoga is the most well-known of all types of yoga, due to its easiness to learn the poses, and perhaps also due to the fact that it is upon the poses here that every other physical yoga practice is based on. Most people start with Hatha yoga in their Level 1 and gym yoga classes. It is an excellent practice to begin and even to stay with lifelong, as it is excellent for all aspects of health, including cardio, strength, flexibility and stress management.
Finding a yoga practice that suits your needs can seem daunting, but rest assured that as long as you start with Hatha yoga, or level 1 in any other kind, and let the teacher know you are a beginner, you will be perfectly fine. If you are more experienced with yoga, give the different kinds a try – experiment! You may just find your secret treasure amongst the less popular kinds.
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