Last updated December 5, 2022
Yoga has been around for centuries and is commonly practiced in Eastern cultures. In recent decades, the number of individuals in Western cultures practicing yoga has increased significantly.
When it comes to yoga styles, Western cultures typically adopt Hatha practices. Hatha is a generic term that encompasses physical movement, flexibility and relaxation. Most of the yoga practices listed in our guide fall within this category.
Not all yoga styles are created equal, however. If you’re looking for a specific kind of wellness experience, it’s important to choose a yoga style that aligns with your goals.
Whether you’re looking for a challenging workout or a relaxing escape, there’s a yoga style out there that’s perfect for you. Likewise, many wellness yoga retreats adopt these varieties, so you can find the perfect one to match your needs.
A Beginners Guide to Different Types of Yoga and Their Benefits
1. Bikram Yoga
Bikram yoga is a type of hatha yoga that is composed of 26 postures that are performed in a specific order. The room temperature is set to 105 degrees Fahrenheit to allow your muscles to warm up and prevent injuries. The class lasts for 90 minutes, and the 26 postures are done in a specific sequence with specific breathing patterns.
Bikram yoga is focused on physical fitness and overall health. It can help improve strength and flexibility while also promoting better focus and concentration. Additionally, Bikram yoga is said to increase energy levels and bolster the immune system.
Because the room is heated during Bikram yoga sessions, the poses are more challenging than those in other types of yoga. Nevertheless, Bikram yoga remains one of the most popular forms of yoga in the world today.
Bikram is a trademarked yoga style that was developed by yogi Bikram Choudhary. The yoga practice consists of 26 poses performed in the same way and the same sequence.
2. Iyengar Yoga
Iyengar Yoga is an incredibly popular form of yoga today. It is a form of yoga that emphasizes precision, perfection and proper alignment during each pose. Blocks, blankets, straps and a variety of objects are used to facilitate these goals of movement. The idea is to master one pose before moving to the next.
This form of yoga is effective for improving flexibility, strength and posture. Though less active, Iyengar is both physically and mentally challenging. Instructors are extensively trained making this ideal for those with injuries and chronic illnesses.
3. Vinyasa Yoga
Vinyasa, which translates to “breath-synchronized movement” in Sanskrit, is a type of yoga that is physically demanding and done in a hot room with a fast flow of yoga postures.
Usually lasting between 60 and 90 minutes, vinyasa yoga classes provide improved balance, strength, and flexibility, as well as working out the muscles in the back, abdomen, arms, and legs.
Vinyasa yoga, known for its fluid movements and breath-based sequences, is one of the most popular forms of yoga in Western societies. Though it is physically demanding, it is also one of the most rewarding styles of yoga.
4. Ashtanga Yoga
Ashtanga yoga is a style of yoga that was developed by K. Pattabhi Jois, a yoga master trained in the Hindu discipline of ashtanga yoga. The practice of ashtanga yoga has been known to offer a number of benefits, including improved flexibility, strength and endurance.
Ashtanga yoga is a dynamic form of yoga that is traditionally practiced in a heated room, with the individual holding each pose for a specific amount of time, depending on their level of experience. The poses are held in a specific order, with each pose becoming more difficult than the previous one.
This ancient form of yoga is rather similar to Vinyasa as it also focuses on breathing and movement. However, this yoga style is more rigid and structured offering the same consistent postures and sequence of movements.
Like Vinyasa, Ashtanga also is more physically active, which makes it likely you will experience a challenging workout.
5. Restorative Yoga
Restorative yoga is a gentle form of yoga that is meant to rejuvenate, restore and calm the nervous system. It is geared toward people who are seeking a slower form of yoga to help them relax, breath deeply and destress.
Restorative yoga is the form of yoga that is the opposite of dynamic or active yoga. It is generally a passive, restful practice that includes lying or sitting in a variety of postures and holding them (isometrics).
This style of yoga is different from other forms of yoga in that it is not aimed at improving your flexibility or strength. It is meant to help you relax and deeply breathe, which in turn, helps you destress and find peace. The different poses work to target your nervous system and promote deep breathing, which helps you find your inner calm.
6. Anusara Yoga
Anusara is one of the more recent styles that has gained increasing popularity. The practice was developed in the late 1990s and includes its universal principles of alignment to guide movements. This style of yoga draws from a wide range of yoga traditions to create a more challenging and versatile practice.
This yoga style is physical in nature, focuses on core stability and spinal mobility with the intention to open the heart and one’s inner goodness.
The name of this form of yoga is derived from the Sanskrit word anusara, which means “flowing with grace.” Anusara yoga is not strictly a religious practice and can be adapted to the practitioners’ needs.
Anusara yoga is a path of spiritual growth with a focus on living in the present and fostering a positive attitude in order to achieve inner peace. It aims to work in harmony with the universe and to be in harmony with others. As a practice, it includes a set of principles, postures, and techniques that help people develop their full potential.
Ready to Explore Yoga
With so many different types of yoga, it can be difficult to decide which style of yoga you’ll enjoy the most. We hope that this guide helps you determine the type of yoga that is best suited to you and that you will find the perfect class—whether it’s at a local yoga studio, your own home, or some beautiful and far away yoga or wellness retreat (highly recommended). By knowing which style of yoga works for you, you can better choose the wellness experience of your dreams.
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