Should you try Bikram or Vinyasa? There are many different kinds of yoga, and each delivers different challenges and benefits. We’ll help you device which system of yoga is best for your body.
The world of yoga is at your fingertips, and while you’re excited to explore the various positions and stretch, align, and open your joints, muscles and heart, one major question remains: what system of yoga is best for you?
Chances are your gym or local yoga studio boasts a list of courses. You might see terms like bikram, hatha, and anusara, and wonder what they mean. The key to getting the most from yoga is by picking the practice that fits your body and its needs. The following 7 types of yoga give you a guide to the most popular courses available to you.
Bikram yoga has been gaining some steam, literally, in recent years. Also known as “hot yoga,” Bikram involves 26 poses, which are performed in 105 degrees of heat and 40 percent humidity. It was developed in the 1970s by Bikram Coudhury in Los Angeles, and has risen to country-wide popularity. The poses focus on proper alignment while the heat helps to relax muscles and encourage blood flow. Because you are sweating and your heart rate is rising, you are also burning belly fat the entire time!
Hatha yoga is a form of Tantra yoga that focuses on postures and breath control in order to reach subtle channels. It is a practice that helps to remove obstacles that interfere with your ability to concentrate, meditate, and balance yourself. It is a peaceful form of yoga created in the 15th century in India by Yogi Swatmarama. The word “Hatha” comes from the Sanskrit terms for “ha”, which means “sun” and “tha”, which means “moon.” In this sense, Hatha yoga aims to unite opposite forces into one. It is a relaxed, deep yoga that allows you to explore your inner mind.
Founded in the early 20th century by K. Pattabhi Jois, Vinyasa yoga, also known as Ashtanga yoga, is a style that incorporates movement and constantly changing, flowing poses. It is less relaxed than other forms of yoga and is often referred to as “power yoga.” Prepare to reach a sweat while practicing this one!
Kundalini yoga was popularized in the 1960s by Yogi Bhajan. It is named after a term for the life force centered around the spine. It aims to strengthen and open the spine, from its base up to the brain, ultimately elevating you to higher awareness. Kundalini helps one gain mental power and control, with a focus on the core and unleashing the potential that lies within your energy center.
For proper alignment, Iyengar is the best choice. This is a type of Hatha yoga that uses a variety of props, such as wooden blocks, harnesses, cushions, and straps. Better suited to people with specific physical problems, Iyengar can facilitate better rehabilitation.
Developed in 1997 by yoga teacher John Friend, Anusara yoga emphasizes principles of alignment and opening of the heart. The term “Anusara” is said to mean “flowing with grace,” “flowing with nature,” and “following your heart.” It is divided into three parts that are meant to acknowledge the power of the heart, connect us to others, and provide us with joy and freedom. These three parts fall under the three A’s of attitude, alignment, and action. Anusara is a particularly spiritual practice.
Founded in NYC in 1984 by David Life and Sharon Gannon, Jivamukti means “liberation while living.” It is a form of Vinyasa yoga and is thus an active form of yoga requiring movement. The practice is incredibly diverse in content and can involve chants, music, scriptures, and readings.
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Image Credit: RelaxingMusic