Year after year, people flock to yoga as part of their regular routine. Yoga offers a plethora of benefits, from improved moods and relieving stress to sharpening focus and relieving pain from rheumatoid arthritis. As with traditional exercise, it can be practiced through a variety of methods. Here’s a look at some of the different types of yoga and the benefits each practice provides.
Hatha Yoga can best be described as beginners’ yoga. It’s also considered the origin of many forms of yoga currently practiced. Its slow pace and natural breathing exercises allow novices to develop a comfort level as they explore yoga for the first time. Wear comfortable clothing and bring an open mind if you’re a beginner. Hatha yoga frequently involves seated meditation poses and is ideal for folks looking to relieve stress through relaxation while still getting a bit of exercise.
Founded by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, Ashtanga yoga focuses on synchronizing breathes with a series of different postures. This method warms up the body to produce an abundant sweat aimed at detoxifying muscles and organs. Circulation improves, the body gains strength, and the mind calms down.
By definition, “Ashtanga” means “eight-limbed.” Each limb represents the eight spiritual practices for internal purification. They are
- Yama (moral codes)
- Niyama (self-purification and study)
- Asana (posture)
- Pranayama (breath control)
- Pratyahara (sense control)
- Dharana (concentration)
- Dhyana (meditation)
- Samadhi (absorption into the Universal)
The first four are external cleansing practices, and the latter four focus on the internal. Ashtanga yoga benefits those looking for a good purifying sweat along with a sense of mental relaxation through breathing.
Meaning “breath-synchronized movement,” Vinyasa Yoga poses focus on inhaling and exhaling. When performed correctly, the person can move fluidly, almost in a dance-like manner, from pose to pose. Fans of Vinyasa yoga can thank Parrabhi Jois, who began this well-known practice by focusing on the powerful breathing aspects of the ritual.
Vinyasa is another good class for beginners. Wear something comfortable and breathable that allows for easy movement and wicks sweat away from the body. Vinyasa lovers enjoy both physical and mental benefits: working up a sweat in class rids the body of toxins, while a deep focus on breathing not only soothes a weary mind, but also allows energy to flow throughout the body.
Yogacharya B.K.S. Iyengar, this form of yoga’s namesake, developed a style that integrates the mind, body, and emotions through the use of props such as ropes and belts. He incorporates the eight aspects of Ashtanga yoga to accomplish this. This type of yoga benefits those in search of mental peace, good health, and emotional clarity.
Developed by Bikram Choudhury as an offspring of Hatha Yoga, Bikram yoga is a sequence of twenty-six different poses (twelve standing and fourteen seated/laying) over a ninety-minute time span in a 105-degree room. Also known as “hot yoga,” this practice gives your entire body a workout that benefits muscles, internal organs, veins, and ligaments in such a manner that promotes good health and function. If your goal is to increase your heart rate and stamina and build some muscle while sweating off a few pounds, this form of yoga is for you. Speaking from experience, I encourage you to dress properly and hydrate well before and after your class.
What types of yoga do you practice and what are the benefits you reap? Tell us in the comments below.
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