What style of Yoga is for me?

1. Anusara Yoga if you want a more alignment focused practice that is artistic, flowy and has a spiritual side to it. Anusara means “flowing with grace”. It is a modern-day version of hatha yoga, most similar to vinyasa in that it that focuses on alignment but with more focus on the mind-body-heart connection and different verbiage.

Anusara focuses on spirals and how each body part should be moving. Anusara is also known for its emphasis on heart opening. Expect to often stop in class and gather around a student as the instructor breaks down a pose.

2. Ashtanga Yoga if you are a methodic, analytical person who loves to learn new things. Also, you want a workout to sweat it out on your yoga mat. In Sanskrit Ashtanga is translated as “Eight Limb path.” Ashtanga yoga involves a physically demanding sequence of postures.

Ashtanga starts with five sun salutation A’s and five sun salutation B’s and then moves into a series of standing and floor postures. In Mysore, India, people gather to practice this form of yoga together at their own pace—if you see Mysore-led Ashtanga, it’s expected of you to know the series.

3. Bikram Yoga (Hot Yoga) if you love the heat and want a physically demanding work out, that will make you sweat. Also, because you’d like to learn a set sequence to help you remember poses quicker. If you are looking to sweat in yoga, this is the style for you.

Bikram yoga is named after Bikram Choudhury and features a sequence of set poses in a sauna-like room—typically set to 105 degrees and 40 percent humidity. The sequence includes a series of 26 basic postures, with each one performed twice.

4. Hatha Yoga if you would like to hold poses for a little bit longer to familiarize yourself with them, you may be newer to yoga, and interested in toning your muscles while also relaxing.

The Sanskrit term “hatha” is an umbrella term for all physical postures of yoga. In the West, hatha yoga simply refers to all the other styles of yoga (Ashtanga, Iyengar, etc.) that are grounded in a physical practice. However, there are other branches of yoga such as kriya, raja, and karma yoga that are separate from the physical-based yoga practice.

The physical-based yoga is the most popular and has numerous styles. Hatha yoga classes are best for beginners since they are usually paced slower than other yoga styles. Hatha classes today are a classic approach to breathing and exercises. If you are brand-new to yoga, hatha yoga is a great entry point to the practice.

5. Iyengar Yoga if you are someone that wants to learn how to gain flexibility and strength in an alignment-based way, with the help from props. Iyengar yoga was founded by B.K.S. Iyengar and focuses on alignment as well as detailed and precise movements. In an Iyengar class, students perform a variety of postures while controlling the breath.

Generally, poses are held for a long time while adjusting the minutiae of the pose. Iyengar relies heavily on props to help students perfect their form and go deeper into poses in a safe manner. Although you won’t jump around, you will definitely get a workout and feel incredibly open and relaxed after an Iyengar class. This style is really great for people with injuries who need to work slowly and methodically.

6. Kundalini Yoga if you’re an artsy person (interested in chanting), spiritually inclined, and not very focused on anatomy. Kundalini yoga practice is equal parts spiritual and physical. This style is all about releasing the kundalini energy in your body said to be trapped, or coiled, in the lower spine.

These classes really work your core and breathing with fast-moving, invigorating postures and breath exercises. These classes are pretty intense and can involve chanting, mantra, and meditation.

7. Restorative Yoga if you are wanting to de-stress, relax, and rejuvenate your body and mind while also gently stretching. Restorative yoga focuses on winding down after a long day and relaxing your mind. At its core, this style focuses on body relaxation. You spend more time in fewer postures throughout the class. Many of the poses are modified to be easier and more relaxing.

Like Iyengar, many props are used and are placed just right such as blankets, bolsters, and eye pillows. All of the props are there to help you sink deeper into relaxation. Restorative yoga also helps to cleanse and free your mind.

8. Slow Flow Yoga if you may be newer to yoga, want to breathe deep and move your body intentionally, but would like to learn the poses before moving too quickly.

9. Vinyasa Yoga if you are wanting to get your heart rate up and sweat a little bit, let go of your thoughts and just move in different ways. Vinyasa means “to place in a special way” and in this case yoga postures. Vinyasa is the most athletic yoga style. Vinyasa was adapted from Ashtanga yoga in the 1980s. In Vinyasa classes, the movement is coordinated with your breath and movement to flow from one pose to another.

Many types of yoga can also be considered Vinyasa flows such as Ashtanga, power yoga, and prana. Vinyasa styles can vary depending on the teacher, and there can be many different types of poses in different sequences. I personally teach an alignment-based style of vinyasa and choreograph new flows every time, but I also like to hold some of the poses a bit longer after warming up.

10. Yin Yoga if you want to hold poses longer, let your mind turn inwards, and stretch really deep all while relaxing. Yin yoga is a slow-paced style of yoga with seated postures that are held for longer periods of time.

In Yin yoga, postures can be held from 45 seconds to two minutes. Yin can also be a meditative yoga practice that helps you find inner peace. The classes are relaxed, as you’re supposed to let gravity do most of the work.

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