As one of the fastest growing health trends, yoga is becoming a popular way for people to stay active and in tune with their bodies. Because it focuses on both the mind and body, many people enjoy mental benefits from this type of exercise in addition to its health benefits. There are many different types of yoga that are practiced today. If you are thinking about trying this kind of exercise, it’s important to learn a little about the different types, and which can best suit your needs.
What Is Yoga?
Yoga is a combination of physical and mental activity that is intended to bring about a reduction in stress and anxiety. This is achieved through a series of poses that are developed to increase both strength and flexibility. At the same time, participants are encouraged to control their breathing as a way of focusing and relaxing.
Many people find that yoga helps them to reduce stress and create a calming way of getting exercise. It can also increase your fitness by giving you better muscle strength, flexibility and balance. Others have turned to yoga in an effort to alleviate some the symptoms that accompany a chronic illness such as cancer, chronic pain and depression. Yoga’s ability to help with insomnia, fatigue and mood can help people deal with these chronic illnesses more efficiently.
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Types Of Yoga
There are several different types of yoga that offer variations on the basic principles of this exercise. These types of yoga include:
- Hatha: Hatha is generally considered to be a very basic and standard form of yoga in most of the Western hemisphere. It sometimes takes cues from other types of yoga, but overall, hatha is a calm, moderately paced type of yoga that is often a good fit for beginners.
- Bikram: If you like heat, then bikram yoga is for you. This type of yoga is practiced in a room that has the heat cranked up to 105 degrees and the humidity set at about 40 percent. This type of yoga incorporates 26 basic poses and is intended to help you improve flexibility thanks to the heat. The inevitable sweating that accompanies bikram yoga also helps many participants to burn more calories and increase their stamina.
- Ashtanga: This is a more vigorous type of yoga that involves quick progression through six pre-established pose sequences. Participants move from one pose to the next each time they inhale and exhale, so it’s definitely a faster-paced type of yoga. The poses themselves are also somewhat strenuous, so this might be a better choice for someone with previous yoga experience as opposed to a beginner. However, ashtanga yoga provides a great cardio option and may even help you lose weight.
- Iyengar: This is the best type of yoga for purists. Since nailing the different poses perfectly is key with iyengar yoga, props like blocks, harnesses and straps are sometimes incorporated to help achieve the ideal form. Iyengar yoga is good for developing muscle definition since it works many parts of the body as you focus on precise alignment. It’s very helpful to have an experienced instructor for this yoga since it’s focused on correct poses.
- Power: This is a newer style of yoga that was developed in the late ‘80s. Power yoga is different from many other styles of yoga in that the poses are not done in a set sequence; instructors can make up different routines for each class. Power yoga is usually fast-paced so it’s a great way to challenge yourself and burn calories.
- Prenatal: Another growing trend is prenatal yoga, which has been developed specifically for pregnant women and, in some cases, for women who want to exercise after giving birth. The breathing is helpful for mothers preparing for delivery, and the increased strength in the pelvic floor can help make delivery a little easier in some cases. Staying in shape is also helpful for moms who are suddenly experiencing shifts in their balance, body weight and posture as their bellies expand.
- Restorative: Perfect for those recovering from an injury, restorative yoga has a slower pace that accommodates those with limited physical abilities. Even if you’re in perfect health, however, restorative yoga can be a great way to relax and relieve stress. This type of yoga incorporates only a handful of poses, each of which is held for up to 20 minutes. Holding poses for these longer periods can help lessen joint pain, stretch your muscles and calm the mind.
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Tips For Beginners
There are a few important things to keep in mind before starting any type of yoga:
- Make sure your instructor is certified.
- Find out if the class is for beginners or for those who already have experience doing yoga.
- Purchase a yoga mat if one will not be provided in your class.
- Talk to your instructor if you feel any pain or discomfort during or after your sessions.
- If you have any chronic conditions or other heath concerns, speak with your doctor before trying yoga for the first time to see if it is safe for you.