Monday, January 6, 2020

Types Of Yoga, And Which May be Best For You



With the arrival of January, so too come many resolutions, and it would seem that in most cases people are either for or against them. We spend so much of our time trying to suppress our feelings, that if, for a moment you do feel something - a feeling that leads you towards doing something positive for yourself - then what is the harm?

It is hard to think of New Year's Resolutions without considering some popular themes - lose weight, reduce stress, be happier... Maybe you find yourself trying to work towards a combination of these and decide you are looking to add yoga to your new routine. That's Great!

Yoga can bring about many changes including those listed above, but also increase strength and flexibility in both body and mind. Loosely translated from Sanskrit, Yoga means to "join" or link between body, mind, and breath. Connecting one's own self with the "ultimate source."

The Asanas are what most people may think of when they imagine yoga which are the physical postures and poses. However, the Asanas are just one of the eight total limbs of yoga. When people say they want to practice yoga, what they usually mean is they want to do some class involving the asanas but yoga is a practice that reaches much further than just the physical body.

Though the asanas are only one of the eight limbs of yoga, they certainly come with a tremendous benefit when done daily. The asanas help us to explore our bodies, while connecting to our breath.

It is ever-present that there are people who love yoga, but how does one begin? With so many different classes out there it can be confusing where to start, and what they all mean.

As you begin diving into the world of yoga you will notice there are some common types offered and most classes and studios will usually have some variation of these types so understanding them will best help you to choose which class to begin with!


Hatha Yoga


Hatha puts a strong emphasis on the postures. This is a great beginner class option as it is generally taught at a slower pace with further direction on being in the posture and experiencing what each pose has to offer.

Though it is a great option for beginners it is a great style to be practiced by more advanced yogis also as holding one posture for an extended period of time could be difficult no matter the level of expertise. The main focus here is using the breath to build the power and strength to sustain each posture.

It is also super helpful to have time to understand and explore the proper alignment of each pose as building a good foundation of these will help you to remain safe and prepare you for doing more advanced poses and classes.

Ashtanga Yoga


Ashtanga yoga is more highly focused on connecting movement with the breath in a fluid-like manner and though it is usually also referred to as Vinyasa it is a bit different. Whereas Hatha Yoga is slower paced and spends more time focused on each posture, Ashtanga picks it up a little bit and creates a flow experience.

Ashtanga yoga has set sequences that get repeated in a cyclical pattern. Once you know the sequences it becomes easier to know at which points to inhale and exhale. It is a more strict sort of teaching and pretty routine. With enough practice, you will be able to line up breath with movement and receive the full benefits of this style of practice.

Vinyasa Yoga


Similar to Ashtanga in the sense you are pairing breath with movement in a flow-like sequence but it differs in that it is not as structured as Ashtanga. A vinyasa class has more room to be playful and experiment as instructors work to guide their students from one pose to another in different, fun and creative ways.

Be ready to sweat, though, because like Ashtanga these classes can sometimes be high intensity and work towards building strength and endurance. Again, having a deep understanding of the poses beforehand is helpful as generally, the transitions are quick from one to another.

Restorative Yoga and Yin Yoga


Often considered under the same umbrella of classes, these are some of my absolute favorite to do! They challenge the concept that one must work hard in a yoga class and/or be uncomfortable twisting in and out of poses - completely not true. These classes are very slow-paced and spend lots of time in each pose, holding it for a few minutes rather than just a few breaths.

While both work on lengthening and stretching out the body they do differ in a few aspects. Restorative yoga is more passive and uses lots of props such as blankets, bolsters, and blocks. The idea is to let the body stretch itself out and be in complete comfort and feel supported. This is best for releasing stress and tension of the mind.

Yin Yoga is a bit more active, where you are intentionally working to stretch the body and may only use props if it helps to deepen the stretch. This is more focused on the connective tissue and releasing any built-up energy and tension within the body.

So Moving Forward...

This is just a quick snapshot of some common terms you may hear thrown around. Yoga has been around for thousands of years and over that time it has branched off into different directions as people try to make it their own. There are many more styles out there and I encourage you to explore and find what feels right to you. It all stems from the same concept, though, which mirrors breath with the body.

It really is a special treat when you are able to tune into your body and recognize when things feel right and when things are off or how inhales and exhales can make something difficult pass by with ease.

Take care my friends - Namaste

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