What most people call “yoga” is the physical practice, but it is only one of the four primary types of yoga that are currently practiced.
According to the yogic tradition there is: Karmic Yoga, which is the path of service. Mother Teresa was this type of yoga practitioner. Bhakti Yoga, which is the yoga of devotion. Prayer, singing, chanting, and other expressions of love for the Devine are all forms of bhakti yoga. Jnana Yoga, is the path to wisdom and intellect. Raja Yoga is the “royal path”, and includes Hatha Yoga (breath and bodily practices).
Hatha Yoga: This is the most popular and most common types of yoga. It’s great for beginners. It focuses on exercising the body, and includes specific movements, and series of postures (asanas) done one after another, without much attention to the transitions between them. You can expect to hold poses for around five breaths each. Hatha yoga includes, traditional postures, careful movements, breath, mindfulness work aimed at keeping your mind and body feeling alive, fit, and working together in harmony. Gentle movements and poses to promote long muscles and loosen you up. This is an effective way to relax after a busy or stressful day.
Vinyasa Flow: The word translated as “breath-to-movement,” meaning you are expected to move in and out of the postures with your inhales and exhales. Sun Salutations are practiced in Vinyasa classes, and other sequences that emphasize flowing between the poses, rather than starting and stopping. This type of yoga is a caloric torching, muscle building, fast flowing workout. It will make you sweat and calm your mind.
Ashtanga and Power Yoga: Is a strong physically demanding type of yoga consisting of a few set of series of postures from beginning to advanced, that lead in to each other. This yoga is for building core strength and toning body.
Lyengar Yoga: It’s extremely alignment oriented, and focuses on precise execution of yoga postures, and uses props like blocks, straps, and blankets to help find your optimal positioning.
Bikram or Hot Yoga: Room is heated between 95 and 108 degrees. This yoga only has a one set series of 26 poses, and is very intense. Plan to sweat. Gains in lower body strength and flexibility. And attempt this style if you are free from injuries and physical limitations.
Restorative Yoga: A relaxing form of yoga which uses props to support the body in seated and reclining postures. The purpose is to completely relax into the props so that you can focus on your breath and relieving stress.
Yin Yoga: A style of yoga that emphasizes longer and more passive holds, and it targets the connective tissues instead of the muscles and bones. Its relaxing and therapeutic, although those with an active mind find the longer periods of quiet to be challenging.
Prenatal Yoga: Safe poses for the mom to be can help with everything from easing pregnancy woes to helping moms body for an easier labor and recovery.
Kundalini Yoga: A form of hatha yoga that combines poses with breath work. It focuses on addressing and freeing the energy that collects at the base of your spine around your tailbone, which is your root chakra, and reflects your survival center. This yoga helps you to stay in tune with what keeps you grounded and makes you feel secure. You’ll unleash the power of your root chakra and build amazing core strength.
When you are ready to take your first yoga class and you need to choose what type of yoga is right for you, follow the steps below:
Step 1: Consider the reason why you want to take a yoga class. Are you looking for an intense workout, to relieve pain, or recovering from an injury. Are you looking for a spiritual experience, or looking to combat the signs of aging.
Step 2: Consider your preferences and needs. Are you ok in a class setting or do you want personalized attention on a one to one basis.
Step 3: You may not know what you are searching for until you start trying the different types of yoga at the beginner levels. So take a class.