March 2, 2015
I picked up a yoga DVD at the library recently called Yin Yoga, which I quickly discovered was the complete opposite of the usual vinyasa style I’ve been doing at home for about 14 years. I was bored with yoga and now I know why. There are many different styles of yoga, so finding one that fits you is very important. You might not stick with the style forever, and you can certainly swap them out, but it’s important to learn the differences.
For the beginner yogi who wants to practice at home, here are 6 new styles to explore:
- Yin Yoga is a slower style that really targets connective tissue – ligaments and joints – that are often not worked in an active style of yoga practice. Poses can be held from a minute or 2 to as long as 20 minutes.
- Vinyasa Yoga is a very popular style of yoga that takes you through a series of poses based on inhalation and exhalation. Breathing is always a big part of any yoga practice. Vinyasa is sometimes called “Vinyasa Flow” or just “flow” yoga since it does flow in a dance-like style. It can improve your flexibility and increase muscle strength and endurance.
- Ashtanga Yoga is a more vigorous style of Vinyasa flow that moves through a set series of poses and emphasizes breathing into and out of each pose. There are 4 main parts in the series of exercises. This is a good style for those who like order and doing the same thing each time they practice.
- Iyenger Yoga is all about detail, precision and alignment. Poses are numerous (up to 200) and range from simple to incredibly challenging. Props like blogs, straps and towels are often used to get into the correct posture and position. Breath control and meditation are emphasized. It’s all about meticulous alignment here and achieving a state of alignment in the body that will also help align the mind.
- Restorative Yoga is derived from the Iyenger style and is often used after illness, injury or during times of extreme stress to calm the mind and body by activating the parasympathetic nervous system. Props are often used as in Iyenger. Restorative yoga aims to make people less reactive to stress and achieve optimal health.
- Bikram Yoga is a type of Hatha yoga (hot yoga) usually practiced in a quite warm/hot room. It’s a 26 pose series that has been designed to warm and stretch muscles, tendons and ligaments in a certain order. The room in a studio is generally warmed to 104 degrees so this particular style doesn’t work as well at home.
These are very simple, brief explanations of in-depth practices, but you can see that yoga styles range from fast flowing to slow with long-held poses. Yoga can be practiced in a class, at home, in your yard or at a park or beach. That’s the real beauty of it. Whichever style you choose, your body will be more aligned, relaxed, toned and flexible and your mind quieter and more peaceful.