fitness wellness yoga

The Types of Yoga Explained, and Which One Is Right For You

Yoga can be so amazing for your health, mind and body alike. But, if you’re practicing the wrong kind of yoga for you, you may not be having a great time or reaping all the benefits you could be. I know I prefer some styles to others, so I thought I’d make you guys this list as a sort of guide to choose what might be something you’re into, and what you might not be interested in at all. Not all styles of yoga are the same and/or equal.

1. Hatha

Hatha yoga is probably what you picture when you hear the word “yoga”. It has a focus on asanas and holding poses for a short amount of time. If you attend a local yoga class or have a yoga studio nearby, it’s most likely going to be Hatha. Hatha Yoga is great for building strength, flexibility, and you may leave class feeling more relaxed.

Hatha Yoga is for you if: you’re new to yoga practice and want to learn the basics, are looking for increased flexibility, want to have some stress relief after your practice

Hatha Yoga may not be for you if: you’re looking for a more intensive physical experience, you’re looking for your yoga practice to have more of a spiritual feel

2. Vinyasa

Vinyasa is much like Hatha, but with more of a fast paced and real workout feel to it. Vinyasa is more about flow than holding a certain asana for a set amount of time. It’s about incorporating your breath with your movements. If you’ve ever done a Sun Salutation, this is a great example of what a Vinyasa practice is like.

Vinyasa might be right for you if: you’re looking to get a workout in and maybe break a sweat while practicing yoga, you’re interested in breath work, you like more of a fast paced practice, or you want to build strength

Vinyasa may not be right for you if: you want a more slow moving practice, you aren’t interested in a cardio exercise, you want to have more of a meditative and relaxing experience

3. Yin

Yin Yoga is very unique. The goal of Yin is to feel relaxed, and really hold poses that aren’t super stressful on your body for long periods of time. The first time I did a Yin practice, I was surprised to find that I was holding a single pose for 3-4 minutes or longer. Another aim of Yin Yoga is to help stimulate the connective tissue in your body, which protects your body and helps to transport necessary substances throughout it.

Yin Yoga may be right for you if: you’re a beginner and looking for a relaxing and low intensity introduction to yoga, you have some areas of particular soreness that you want to try to relief some tension from and stretch out, or you’re looking for a meditative and stress reliving practice, or you prefer more floor postures.

Yin Yoga may not be the style for you if: you’re looking to get in a calorie burning workout, you prefer a lot of standing postures, or you’re not really into the idea of a slow moving practice.

4. Restorative

Restorative is very similar to Yin yoga in that they both are relaxing, and make use of floor poses that are held for longer periods of time; but the biggest difference between the two of them is that the goal of Restorative yoga is to relax and feel, well, restored. There is a big use of props in restorative yoga, whether it be pillows, blankets or blocks.

Restorative Yoga may be right for you if: your main goal is stress relief, you enjoy using props, you could benefit from some time to just restore and relax yourself. (Maybe we could all benefit from that.)

Restorative Yoga may not be for you if: you want to burn calories or get a workout in or if you prefer a faster flow or lots of standing poses.

5. Bikram

Bikram yoga is what is commonly referred to as Hot Yoga. All Bikram sessions will be practiced in a room that is 105 degrees Fahrenheit/40.5 degrees Celsius. Bikram Yoga practice consists of a set of 26 asanas, which are held for 6-60 seconds a piece.

Bikram might be right for you if: you like to get a good sweat in your workouts, you enjoy saunas, you like a class atmosphere

Bikram may not be your thing if: you’re diabetic, pregnant or planning to become pregnant, heart conditions, or asthma. You may want to do further research if you are someone with a health condition who is interested in Bikram yoga and talk to your doctor.

6. Kundalini

Out of all the styles of yoga I’ve listed in this article, Kundalini has to be the most unique.

Kundalini has a focus on a philosophy that we all have an untapped source of energy at the base of our spine near the tailbone (similar to the position of the Root Chakra), that is like an coiled snake. The goal is to uncoil this energy (snake) and move it up and throughout the body, enabling us to have a spiritual awakening and tap into potential we weren’t able to use prior.

Kundalini may be for you if: you’re intrigued by this philosophy, you’re open minded to new and different ideas, you’re not a beginner to yoga

Kundalini is probably not for you if: you’re a beginner, you aren’t looking for a spiritual awakening process, and especially not if you for both of those. I want to note that some people have reported amazing changes in their lives following their Kundalini awakening, while others have had very adverse effects and reactions, including psychosis. (Source). I will dig deeper into this in a future post.

7. Ashtanga

Ashtanga Yoga is one of personal favorite styles of yoga, for a couple of reasons. Ashtanga has a philosophy of the “Eight Limbs of Yoga,” which to me, really makes it more of a lifestyle than a simple workout. There is also definitely more of a spiritual component to its philosophy that I personally enjoy.

The Eight Limbs are:

1. Yama, or moral and ethical values.

2. Niyama, or self control.

3. Asana, or postures and poses

4. Pranayama, or breath control and breath work.

5. Pratyahara, or “withdrawal of the senses”

6. Dharana, or concentration.

7. Dhyana, or meditation.

8. Samadhi, or the eventual goal of your practice, which is a state of higher consciousness or enlightenment.

I’ll definitely be diving further into these in a future post 🙂

Ashtanga may be for you if: you’re looking into a yoga style that has more of a lifestyle and philosophy element to it, you’re interested in learning more about the spiritual side of it.

Ashtanga is probably not for you if: you’re not at all interested in the more spiritual side of yoga and yoga would rather focus solely on your asanas and practice while you’re there.

8. Iyengar

Iyengar Yoga was originally developed by BKS Ieyngar in the 1960s. Iyengar yoga has a big focus on great form and precision in holding each asana, and alignment. BKS Iyengar wrote a book called Light on Yoga, which contained roughly 200 poses, which has been referred to as the “Bible of Yoga” and considered to be an encyclopedia for those looking to learn the style. I found an awesome post here by Jack Cuneo, who took the time to photograph each of these poses for a project.

Iyengar Yoga may be for you if: you’re interested in learning how to move with precision and quality above quantity of the asanas you’ll be moving through, you want to gain strength and flexibility, you’re a beginner

Iyengar Yoga may not be for you if: you aren’t big on using props, or don’t like the idea of holding your pose for a longer period of time than a more Vinyasa kind of style.

Here are the ones that come to mind for me when thinking about the main types of Yoga. There are others out there, but if you’re a beginner or starting to explore other styles than what you’ve seen in this past, this should be a great place to start to figure out what may be the perfect fit for you!

1 comment on “The Types of Yoga Explained, and Which One Is Right For You

  1. Daniel Chandranayagam

    Excellent! A lot of people don’t know!

    Liked by 1 person

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