What Type of Yoga is Right for Me?

The popularity of yoga continues to rise throughout the western world. Perhaps you’re curious about it and wishing to try it. However, you still aren’t sure exactly what kind of yoga may be right for your lifestyle. Chances are, you may have asked everyone you know who practices yoga about which type of yoga you should practice. While they may have a few suggestions, chances are they have not have made their decision based on the same criteria as your own. Ultimately, it will be up to you to decide which type of yoga you should choose.

It is actually fairly simple to find the right kind of yoga for you. First and foremost you should try to consider why you are planning on entering the yoga lifestyle. Whether it was suggested to you from your doctor for medical treatment, or if it is a means for you to reconnect with a healthy lifestyle, there is definitely a type of yoga that is suited to your lifestyle, schedule, and long term health goals.

No one yoga class is going to be right for everyone who practices yoga. Just like no one yoga prop or work out wear will be right for one person. Think of it as a “fitting” for your lifestyle. Try your yoga class on for size, if it doesn’t fit your lifestyle, your schedule, or your medical needs; then you should probably try to find something different. This part of the process can take some time, so be patient.

There are various types of Yoga that perhaps you have already heard of. Some of them have become “Americanized” for lack of a better term, which is to say that they’ve been modified or adapted to north American sensibilities. Below breaks down the most common types you’ll see in today’s fitness clubs, studios and wellness centers.

HATHA – A gentle form of Yoga, and the most common, it focuses on basic postures that flow in and out with an emphasis on different breathing techniques. Hatha Yoga is what most people in the West commonly associate with the word “Yoga” and is practiced for mental and physical health.

ASHTANGA – The eight limbs connoted by the word ‘Ashtanga’ refer specifically to the eight spiritual practices outlined by the Yoga Sutra, the original Yoga text which is just as relevant today as when first composed. ‘Ashtanga’ can be composed of 6 individual series, each increasing with more difficulty. It is usually combined or referred to as Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga.

VINYASA – A dynamic form of yoga that connects postures and creates a flow between traditional yoga postures. The ‘Vinyasa flow’ is used especially during the Sun Salutation series.

BIKRAM and HOT YOGA – Bikram Yoga is ideally practiced in a room heated to 105F (40.5C) with a humidity of 40%. As a result, the body sweats profusely. Classes include 26 postures, guided by specific dialogue and breathing techniques. Hot yoga was formulated by yoga guru Bikram Choudhury and hence is also called Bikram yoga. Notwithstanding skeptics and orthodox yoga aficionados, hot yoga is becoming increasingly popular because of its numerous benefits.

KUNDALINI – Focuses on deep, very rhythmic breathing and prepares the body for meditation. Kundalini also focuses on bringing energy into the body via intense visualization.

IYENGAR – Stresses the alignment of the body and perfecting poses. Participants will learn true limitations as they hold positions for long periods of time. This type of yoga also incorporates props such as blocks and belts that are designed to help the participants achieve the most accurate posture and to protect their bodies from injuries.

RESTORATIVE – Implements the use of yoga props and supports (*see above) for participants with injuries. Ideal for people wanting deep relaxation through a safe, supportive manner.

POWER YOGA – An Americanized version of Ashtanga Vinyasa that intensifies poses by moving more rapidly between one pose to the other. Poses test one’s endurance and challenge the physical limitations of the muscles and core. Power Yoga can also refer to a shortened version of a Yoga class. i.e. a 45 minute class versus a 60 or 90 minute class, but the benefits are seemingly the same because the pace of class is quickened.

Remember, as with any new workout regiment, you should always know your own body’s limitation. This will help you to choose the right style of yoga class for you. There is no right or wrong answer, simply knowing what you can and cannot handle is key. Regardless of the type of yoga you choose to pursue and practice, your body and mind will benefit greatly.