With over 800 styles of yoga to choose from…what’s a yogini to do? And it is even more confusing for someone who is new to yoga. So with this many varieties of yoga available how do you decide what is the best yoga for you? John P. Porcari, PhD, director of the clinical exercise physiology program agh the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse, states, “Virtually any type of yoga improves strength, flexibility, and balance. The more intense styles can also help you shape up and trim down. The type of yoga that’s best for you will depend on what your health goals are.”*
Most yoga styles also help you release tension in your body, reduce stress, quiet your mind, and help you relax. To find the best fit for you consider your fitness level, your personality, and your reasons for practicing yoga. Here are some of the more common yoga styles.

Hatha Yoga

Hatha yoga is the branch of yoga that does the physical practices, asana (the poses) and pranayama (the breathing exercises). So all the physical yoga classes are actually Hatha Yoga. But in the exercise world Hatha yoga usually refers to an eclectic class that often mixes styles. Poses are done one at a time in a relaxed pace with a focus on safety. Props like blocks or straps are frequently used to help students get into proper alignment. Hatha yoga is not just about the body, there is also an emphasis on the breath, relaxation, being in the present moment (mindfulness) and meditation. Some classes even include practices like chanting.

Hatha classes are good for:
  • Beginners
  • Seniors
  • Pregnant Women (as long as the teacher makes the  proper modifications)
  • Those with mobility issues
  • Those recovering from injuries
  • Stress Management
Names to look for:
  • Integral Yoga
  • Kripalu Yoga
  • Anusara Yoga
  • Iyengar Yoga
  • Jivamukti Yoga

Power Yoga

Power yoga is very athletic, and is a westernized form of a style of yoga called Ashtanga. It does not follow all the sequencing of Ashtanga but still includes many of its elements. Like “taking a vinyasa” which is a series of poses done very fast, one pose to the in breath, one pose to the out breath. Power yoga has a lot of strength moves is often very vigorous and fast paced. There is also an emphasis on core work. It is one of the most athletic forms of yoga and is often very challenging so if you are a beginner, I would suggest that you start with another type of yoga.

Power Yoga Classes are good for:
  • Those looking for a challenge
  • Those looking for a vigorous practice
  • Weight loss
  • Anyone looking for a faster-paced class (some of these classes even fit the requirements for aerobic fitness)
  • People who get bored easily
Names to look for:
  • Astanga Yoga
  • Vinyasa Yoga
  • Flow Yoga
  • Jivamukti Yoga

Hot Yoga

Now sometimes hot yoga just refers to doing any of the other kinds of yoga in a hot room (90 degrees or above) and then there is Bikram Yoga. This is a 90-minute class that is done in a room heated to at least 105 degrees! It consists of the exact same sequence of 26 poses and 2 breathing exercises. Each pose repeated twice and held for a about a minute. These classes are physically taxing so you should really prepare yourself by drinking a lot of water before and during the class. Don’t eat at least 3 hours before the class. I would not recommend this practice for anyone who is pregnant, a child, anyone over 65 (unless you have been practicing yoga for a while), those with medical conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease. Also if you have low blood pressure and are prone to dizzy spells this class is not for you. Also the regular teacher cues in Bikram classes are very pushy, don’t listen, only move your body to where you feel comfortable.

Hot Yoga Classes are good for:
  • Those who like competition (Bikram Yoga enjoys viewing yoga as a sport)
  • Those who like a challenge
  • Those who want a rigorous practice
  • Weight loss
  • Those who like consistency (In a true Bikram Yoga class all the poses are practiced in the same order and timing in every class)
Names to look for:
  • Bikram Yoga
  • Hot Vinyasa
  • Moksha Yoga
  • Modo Yoga
  • Baptist Power Vinyasa

Gentle or Restorative Yoga

This type of yoga is extremely gentle and relaxing. You move into each pose slowly, most poses are done seated or lying down. Pillows, blocks and boosters are used to make each pose more comfortable. Often these gentle poses are held longer (5 minutes or more) and the focus is on the breath, body awareness, and relaxation. Restorative yoga is particularly good at activating the part of your nervous system that helps you bounce back from pain and stress. I call this yoga “nap time for adults” because it feels so good, but if you are expecting exercise…this is not for you.

Gentle or Restorative Yoga is good for:
  • Those with mobility issues
  • Those recovering from and injury
  • Stress Management
  • Those who want to focus on flexibility
  • Beginners
  • Seniors
Names to look for:
  • Yin Yoga
  • Viniyoga
  • Sivananda Yoga
  • Iyengar Restorative Yoga

I also found the chart (pictured above) on the Huffington Post that can also help you decide. So I hope this helps and you find the perfect yoga class for you! Let me know how it goes in the comments below.

find your yoga

Chart originally on Yoga Trail: http://www.yogatrail.com/blog/whats-your-yoga-style/

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