Yoga is a special discipline, bringing together the physical, mental, spiritual and emotional facets of our own existence. Regular practitioners will know of the long-term benefits associated with yoga, regardless of whether you practice by yourself at home, regularly attend a yoga school or retreat, or if you’re studying to become a yoga teacher yourself. There are many different types of yoga for you to explore on your own journey depending on your goals. Today we’ll explore five of the most common types around the world, each with their own share of health benefits. Keep in mind, that there are many types out there! Hopefully, this will be helpful in broadening your yoga horizons, and will help you to achieve your health goals moving forward.
One of the most established styles of yoga, Hatha has been in practice for thousands of years. Its central focus in on maintaining a healthy balance between your body, mind and spirit. Individual poses are paid careful attention to, and you can expect to hold them for longer than you would in other styles. This style of yoga is fairly versatile. Sometimes, the focus can be on building strength and improving balance, while other days it will help with improving your range of movement. Spending a few breaths in each pose is important here, and is incorporated into the practice as a whole. If you’re looking to lower your stress levels and elevate your relaxation levels, while building strength and flexibility, this is the way to go.
It’s not odd to hear someone say that Vinyasa looks a little bit like ballet dancing. Billy Elliot (or Natalie Portman), eat your heart out! This very popular type of yoga consists of choreographed flow postures and generally gives the yogi a more “fluid” experience relative to some of the other styles out there. The key link is between your breathing and how your body is moving. If it’s strength, balance and flexibility you’re after, vinyasa is a good way to go.
Vinyasa yoga is a very popular type of yoga, which contains specifically choreographed flow postures, designed for a more fluid experience. Here, there is a direct correlation between how you breath, and how your body is moving. Vinyasa is also used to describe some sequences of which you may have come across in a class or at a retreat.
Not to be confused with its cousin, Restorative yoga, which also focuses on holding your body in poses for longer periods of time, this style is less prop focused and may be an easier option if you’d like to build towards a more advanced practice. Expect to do 6 - 8 poses per session, with each being held for around 5 minutes at a time.
This style is all about mobility and helping to make the joints more pliable over time, but it also places a big emphasis on mindfulness, which can be a handy tool as you develop your self care routine over time. For fascia, deep tissue and joint flexibility and mobility, Yin is your go to.
Ashtanga Yoga is a modern version of classical yoga, which was popularised back in the late 1940’s. Ashtanga refers to “8 limbs”, representing the 8 branches or practices that encompass yoga as a whole. This is a very structured and often considered to be rigid yoga practice, where you progress to sequences of postures as and when you master the previous one. This helps to improve your patience and discipline, but also brings your body together as you improve your concentration, control of your senses, as well as your focus. Naturally, our body benefits from the different series of poses, which bring positive results to your stability, strength and overall health.
Kundalini is a well known ancient form of yoga, which has been practiced since 500 BC. The West caught wind of this yoga type in the late 1960’s, which was introduced privately, then later introduced publicly by Yogi Bhajan. An immediate hit, millions of people are active practitioners of Kundalini in modern times. This type of yoga refers to being “coiled” (the literal meaning of Kundalini), in reference to a dormant energy that is unleashed following the practice. More specifically, this relates to a metaphor around the uncoiling of a snake at the base of your spine, which is trapping energy and hindering your inner power. Expect an improvement in strength, health and overall happiness when practicing this.
As Iyengar suggests, yoga doesn’t just have to involve just you and your mat. Commonly referred to as Prop yoga, this type involves using blocks, blankets, straps, chairs and bolsters to ensure that you practice the postures in perfect anatomical alignment for your body. If you’ve got a bit more of an analytical brain, or have an eye for statistics and angles (who knew school maths could come in handy at some point!), this style might be a great fit for you.
There are a few other styles that I haven't covered, if you'd like to know about a few others, head over to the yoga parcel.