Yoga is a science of miracle and vastness. It contains both physical and spiritual practices. Yoga styles are one of the primary physical yoga practices having around 8, 400,000 asanas. With such diversity, it is not unusual to be unsure about the best yoga style to practice.
Each of the yoga styles differs from the other in terms of pace, level of practice, breathing exercises performed, asana sequences, and the ultimate goal. With each yoga form, you reap health rewards, physical, mental, spiritual and social.
1. Hatha Yoga: Hatha yoga is a classical and popular yoga style. “Hatha” describes the physical practices of yoga that harmonize the opposing forces within us helping us embrace an ideal body-mind development. With a body-mind that is not a hindrance to higher practices, you can delve in intense yoga forms. Therefore, Hatha yoga is an excellent choice to kickstart your yoga journey. Asanas, Pranayama, and how to perform them correctly are taught in Hatha yoga classes.
2. Ashtanga Yoga: From the traditional Hatha yoga emerges the challenging and structured Ashtanga yoga. Ashtanga yoga contains six series with sequenced yoga poses, which students can perform at their own pace. The primary series, called Yoga Chikitsa focuses on healing, strength, endurance, and flexibility. The intermediate series, known as Nadi Shodhana, is practiced to clear the blocked channels and for detoxification. The advanced series cultivates ‘sthira,’ stability and divinity.
3. Bikram Yoga: The hot and sweaty Bikram yoga is known for its purification, flexibility and fat burning rewards. It is done in a heated room 95-100 degrees with 40% humidity. Two breathing exercises and vinyasa linked poses are performed for a specific period of time. The heat loosens the muscles and sweat cleanses the body inside-out. Individuals aiming an intense practice or specific goals like weight loss can perform Bikram yoga.
4. Kundalini Yoga: It is a traditional form of yoga focusing on a combination of poses and breathing techniques. The practice of sequenced yoga poses with breath movements, meditation, bandhas, mantras, pranayama in kriyas help in awakening and rising of Kundalini energy through the Chakras. Kundalini yoga is best to practice for heightened spiritual and mental development.
5. Iyengar Yoga: Popularized by B.K.S Iyengar, Iyengar yoga is a subset of Hatha yoga. The style follows a specific sequence of poses that can be mixed and matched to create a variation. All the poses are practiced with great precision and attention to form and timing. Iyengar yoga aims to teach the students balance and strength. Iyengar is helpful in managing lower back pain.
6. Jivamukti Yoga: It is an ethical, physical and spiritual yoga style. The practice of Jivamukti yoga involves Hatha yoga postures, Vinyasa-based physical movements, and commitment to five tenets: scripture (Shastra), devotion (bhakti), non-violence (ahimsa), meditation (dhyana), and music (nada). Jivamukti is a path to enlightenment by offering compassion to all.
7. Restorative Yoga: Restorative yoga is a gentle paced yoga style in which the poses are held for a longer period of time with the support of yoga props. Forward folds, gentle stretching, mild twisting yoga asanas are practiced during restorative yoga class. Due to the calming nature of the restorative yoga style, it is ideal to practice before bedtime for a sound sleep
8. Prenatal Yoga: Yoga is highly accessible to pregnant women. Prenatal yoga supports moms-to-be, physically and emotionally. Restorative yoga poses, breathing exercises, pelvic floor work assists you in becoming resilient during the pregnancy, helps in establishing a connection with the unborn baby, and encourages mental centering.
9. Vinyasa Flow Yoga: Vinyasa flow yoga is popular among yoga practitioners because of the smooth transition between the poses, fast-paced style, and variation. In Vinyasa flow class, poses are arranged in a special way interlinked with the breath. Flexibility and creativity drive a vinyasa flow class. Ashtanga yoga, Power yoga, Prana flow yoga can be considered as Vinyasa flow yoga. Chaturanga Dandasana to Urdhva Mukha Svanasana to Adho Mukha Svanasana is a common vinyasa flow sequence.
10. Yin Yoga: For balancing out the yang and relaxation, practice Yin Yoga. Similar to Restorative yoga, poses are held for a longer time during the performance of Yin yoga. Yin yoga focuses on releasing deep connective tissues and creating movement with the body’s muscles and fascia. Owing to the passive nature of Yin yoga, it is helpful in injury prevention, joint health and rejuvenation.
Select, and practice a yoga style that you resonate with.