The different types of Yoga – explained!

There are many different types of yoga, so here’s a breakdown of the various methods so you can help find what might work best for you….

Anusara Yoga: A modern interpretation of Hatha yoga. Based on the belief that we are all filled with an intrinsic goodness, anusara seeks to use the physical practice of yoga to help students open their hearts, experience grace, and let their inner goodness shine through. Classes are rigorous for the body and the mind.

Ashtanga (or Astanga) Yoga: Commonly called ‘power yoga’ this style of yoga is physically demanding as it involves synchronising breathing with progressive and continuous series of postures-a process producing intense internal heat and a profuse, purifying sweat that detoxifies muscles and organs. The result is improved circulation, flexibility, stamina, a light and strong body, and a calm mind. Ashtanga is an athletic yoga practice and is not for beginners.

Bikram Yoga: this method of yoga is a comprehensive workout that includes all the components of fitness: muscular strength, muscular endurance, cardiovascular flexibility and weight loss. One of the unusual but most beneficial aspects of Bikram’s yoga practice is the 95-105 degree temperature which promotes more flexibility, detoxification, and prevention of injuries. This is the only yoga style that specializes in using the heated environment.

Hatha: An easy-to-learn basic form of yoga and is the foundation of all Yoga styles. It incorporates Asanas (postures), Pranayama (regulated breathing), meditation (Dharana & Dhyana) and kundalini (Laya Yoga) into a complete system that can be used to achieve enlightenment or self-realisation. It has become very popular as a source of exercise and stress management.

Iyengar Yoga: Promotes strength, flexibility, endurance, and balance through coordinated breathing and poses that require precise body alignment. The poses are generally held longer than in other styles of yoga. In Iyengar, you slowly move into a pose, hold it for a minute or so, and then rest for a few breaths before stretching into another. Because of its slow pace, attention to detail, and use of cushions and props, Iyengar yoga can be especially good for the elderly, or if you’re recovering from an injury.

Jivamukti Yoga: this method expresses the spiritual and ethical aspects of the practice of yoga that have been disregarded or devalued in contemporary times. It is a vigorous and challenging asana form with an emphasis on scriptural study, Sanskrit chanting, vegetarianism, non-violence, meditation, devotion to God and the role that music and listening play in the practice of yoga.

Kundalini: This practice concentrates on awakening the energy at the base of the spine and drawing it upward. In addition to postures, a typical class will also include chanting, meditation, and breathing exercises.

Prenatal Yoga: For expectant mothers. Some say this is the best exercise for mums to be as there’s lots of core work and a focus on breathing.

Restorative Yoga: In a restorative yoga class you’ll spend long periods of time lying on blocks, blankets and yoga bolsters – passively allowing muscles to relax.

Vinyasa: Focuses on coordination of breath and movement and it is a very physically active form of yoga.

Yin Yoga: Sometimes referred to as yoga for the joints, not the muscles, it directs the stimulation normally created by the asana into areas deeper than the superficial or muscular tissues. Yin Yoga works the connective tissues of the ligaments, fascia, joints and bones. A significant characteristic is the long held, passive nature of the postures. While initially this style of yoga may seem “soft”, it can be quite challenging due to the long duration of the postures, which can last from five to twenty minutes.

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