Yoga is an age-old practice, that combines movement with breath and any yogi can vouch for the monumental effect that the practice has on your body, mind, outlook, and mood. Yoga improves flexibility and strength, detoxifies the body, increases longevity, promotes relaxation, calms the mind and has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and even addictive behaviors in some practitioners.
Yoga is unique from many other forms of exercise, in that there are several types of yoga, which makes it easy for anyone to cater their practice to their specific needs, as well as what they are looking to get out of the practice.
Whether your looking to reduce stress in your life, detoxify your body, or just mix up your exercise routine, there is likely to be a form of yoga that you’ll enjoy and that will meet your goals and needs.
Vinyasa flow yoga is one of the most active forms of yoga. During this practice you are constantly moving from one asana (yoga pose) to the next and all of your movements are linked with your breath. So, as you transition from pose to pose you will always be either slowly breathing in or out as you make the transition. This is a great form of yoga for people who are highly active, as it requires constant movement and a good deal of strength. The concentration that one must inadvertently place on movement and breath makes this form of yoga very meditative. An hour will go by and without realizing it, your thoughts and focus will be entirely on your practice, and not on your worries, stress, or other places that your mind may tend to wander.
In a vinyasa class, you can expect to hear the phrase “flow through a vinyasa” repeatedly. When the instructor cues you to do this, he or she is referring to the following sequence of asanas: Start in plank (chaturanga), lower down to upward facing dog (urdva mikha svanasana), then lift into downward facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
How To Flow Through A Vinyasa
Ashtanga yoga is a great form of yoga for those who like routine. This modernized form of traditional Indian yoga was made popular largely by K. Patlabhi Jois and is comprised of four main sequences: Opening, main, back bending, and finishing sequences. The asanas are in a specific order and like vinyasa flow, your movement is connected with breath. There is less room for personal preference in this practice, as serious ashtangis swear by the benefits of the specific order of the asanas in the series.
Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series
Hatha yoga is a very gentle style of yoga, that focuses on form and breathing. In hatha practice you will stay in each pose for several breaths and may focus of perfecting your body’s alignment in each asana. Hatha yoga focuses largely on the underlying bodily benefits of each pose and on your breathing throughout the practice. The slow movements and constant focus on breath make it a very relaxing and calming form of yoga.
Yin yoga is an extremely slow form of yoga in which yogis hold asana for long periods of time, often over five minutes. Yin yoga is a great way to thoroughly stretch out your muscles and deeply relax. Most poses are sitting or laying poses that promote good circulation and energy flow. While for many this is a deeply meditative form of yoga, others may find it somewhat challenging to stay still, mentally and physically, for long periods of time in each pose.
Also known as hot yoga, this form of yoga is practiced in a room heated to 105° F. It consists of 26 poses, each held for 1 to 3 minutes, and two breathing exercises. Bikram yoga is hailed for its detoxifying effects on the body, as many of the poses target specific organs, and practitioners sweat profusely in the heated room. This is an intense workout, but great for cleansing the body. It is recommended that you be in good health and well hydrated before practicing bikram yoga.
26 Poses of Bikram Yoga Series
Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on February 07, 2013:
Very interesting read! Hatha yoga is the most popular form of yoga today.
Voted up and interesting.
KerryAnita (author) from Satellite Beach, Florida on December 27, 2012:
Thanks Act3! I've never tried lyengar yoga, I'll have to look into that!:)
chet thomas from Athens, GA on December 26, 2012:
Good summary. I would also add Iyengar to the list!