Yoga has become a popular way for people to become fit, lose weight, improve balance, and create a strong and flexible body. While yoga can help to increase health and improve appearance, yoga can also promote relaxation and increase clarity and focus, while bringing about a better mind-body awareness. In this article we will identify a number of different types and applications. If you are interested in getting started, we recommend taking a few classes and talking to instructors and participants to determine the best place to start.
What Is Yoga?
Yoga is a practice of creating a union between the mind, body, and spirit. The practice has shifted and evolved over thousands of years. Traditional yoga focuses on ethical behaviors, poses, breathing, introspection, concentration, meditation, and enlightenment. Yoga uses poses, also called postures or asanas, to help bring the body into alignment, helping to strengthen the mind-body connection.
Different Types of Yoga
There are more than two dozen different types of yoga that are practiced today. The same poses are used in each type, but each provides a different area of focus. Some types of yoga are more gentle and thus are great for beginners, while other types are more vigorous and better suited to those who are more physically fit.
Yoga for Beginners
Hatha is a basic yoga that is often considered to be the foundation of all other types. Hatha uses slow, gentle movements combined with breathwork and meditation.
Kripalu, considered yoga of consciousness, is a gentle, introspective type of yoga that is great for beginners and for those who wish to free their minds from both emotional and spiritual blockage.
Iyengar yoga emphasizes correct alignment of the postures with coordinated breathing for increased strength, flexibility, balance, and endurance. Postures can be assisted with the use of props, such as blocks and straps, for beginners.
Anusara is similar to Iyengar but with poses catered to individual needs and abilities. Emphasis is placed on introspection and finding the inner light within self and others.
Sivananda is a slow, gentle type of yoga that is adaptable to different abilities. The combination of breathing, relaxation, exercise, diet, and positive thinking promote a balanced way of life.
Kundalini is a more spiritual type of yoga, using poses, breathing, meditation, and chanting to focus on the core and freeing up energy.
Ananda is an introspective yoga that focuses on spiritual growth and release of tension through gentle Hatha poses, proper alignment, gentle transitions from one posture to the next, and mindful breathing techniques.
Svaroopa yoga promotes healing and transformation. Instead of focusing on the poses, more focus is placed on the spine, and creating angles for opening up to the poses.
Integral yoga balances physical effort with relaxation, using poses, breathing, relaxation, chanting, and meditation.
Challenging Types of Yoga
Bikram is a comprehensive yoga for strength, endurance, flexibility, and weight loss. The practice is performed in a room that is about 105 degree with 40 percent humidity. A variation of this type is Hot Yoga.
Ashtanga, or astanga, is physically challenging. The sequence links breathing to movement and flows rapidly for a strenuous workout. Variations include Power Yoga and Vinyasa.
White Lotus is a modified form of Ashtanga, with the addition of breathwork and meditation.
Kali Ray TriYoga. is a deeply meditative practice that uses flowing, dance-like movements to promote relaxation and inner peace.
ISHTA combines Ashtanga and Iyengar to connect with universal energy and life force that is outside the range of perception with postures, visualization, and meditation.
Jivamukti is a strenuous practice that emphasizes veganism and kindness to all living things. Spirituality is enhanced with scripture and chanting.
Yoga for Special Concerns
Restorative yoga emphasizes passive muscle relaxation to reduce stress and tension, while promoting feelings of rejuvenation. Good for those who are healing or prone to injury.
Yin yoga goes deeper to help joints and lengthen connective tissue. This type is very meditative and helps develop patience.
Viniyoga is an individualized yoga practice that is good for those with back pain or who are healing or recovering from an injury.
Prenatal yoga is slower-paced with focus on breathing and strengthening the core.
Integrative yoga therapy is individualized to help those with special health concerns through postures, breathing, guided imagery, and lifestyle changes.
Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy uses assisted postures, guided breathing, and dialogue to release physical tension and emotional blocks.