Yoga is an ancient practice that joins the mind, body, and spirit. Yoga is said to originate in Northern India and is over 5000 years old. It is a practice that takes patience, discipline, and allows you to reconnect with your body in a meditative way. However, best of all, it is a fantastic workout that will leave you feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world. In this article, I will give you a head start on the different types of yoga and their benefits so that you may get a good idea of which style would suit you best.
9 Different Types of Yoga and Their Benefits
There is a multitude of different types of yoga that can offer you different benefits, depending on what you are looking for in your practice. As there are so many variations, it is unlikely that you will find an experienced instructor at your local gym that can offer you what you desire. However, all you need to start practicing yoga is a mat.
Finding the perfect instructor to suit your tastes is as easy as finding an expert online. Whether you decide to contact a yoga teacher that gives private lessons via Zoom or find an instructor on YouTube, the options are endless.
So, without further ado, let’s jump into the 9 different types of yoga and their benefits.
1) Hatha Yoga
Hatha is known to be one of the practices most closely related to those of ancient yoga. This is due to the fact that references to techniques and poses practiced in Hatha yoga have been found in the Hindu Sanskrit epics, dating back to the 1st century CE.
Hatha yoga makes use of poses and specific breathing techniques in order to channel your vital energy source. Hatha yoga classes often consist of breathing, poses, and meditation. The practice focuses on moving slowly and deliberately through challenging poses. However, the goal is to attain relaxation and mindfulness throughout your movement.
Hatha Yoga Benefits
Some of the benefits of Hatha yoga include a reduction in stress and depression. Studies have shown that after just one session participants experienced a reduction in stress levels, and after regular engagement in classes, participants started to experience relief from their depression and anxiety.
Physically, you can expect an increase in your core strength as well as muscle strength and flexibility. This is due to the type of poses practiced and the strong focus on posture that is so prevalent in Hatha yoga.
2) Kundalini Yoga
Kundalini is another age-old form of yoga that focuses on activating your kundalini. Your Kundalini is described as being the tantric energy within your body that allows it to function optimally. It is believed that this energy lies dormant until it is unlocked through the practice of yoga, after which one can achieve spiritual enlightenment.
The primary focus of Kundalini yoga is spiritual, with a class often involving singing, chanting, breath work, and the incorporation of poses. Therefore, Kundalini yoga is not particularly physically demanding.
Kundalini Yoga Benefits
Some of the benefits you could experience from Kundalini yoga include stress relief, increased cognitive function, an increase in self-awareness, and perhaps even a touch of spiritual enlightenment.
Therefore, you can expect to have greater respect for your body and experience a marriage of your mind, body, and soul.
3) Ashtanga Yoga
Ashtanga yoga was developed in the early 20th century and has a faster pace compared to older styles of yoga. It is a physically demanding practice that makes use of many flows.
A flow is made up of a variety of yoga poses that have been combined in a sequence. The idea is that you should seamlessly flow from one posture to another until the sequence is completed. The famous Sun Salutation is one of the Ashtanga flows.
These flows are supported by specific breathing techniques that are aimed at increasing focus and submerging one in the flow. As this practice is physically demanding, it aims to push through the mental blocks that one might have.
Benefits of Ashtanga Yoga
The benefits of Ashtanga yoga include increased physical strength and flexibility, as well as a strengthening of mind and determination. This form of yoga will also typically result in weight loss as it is so strenuous.
4) Iyengar Yoga
Iyengar yoga was developed by B. K. S. Iyengar, who wrote a book in 1966 titled “Light on Yoga”.
This style of yoga focuses on the detail of proper alignment and precision. In order to facilitate this alignment, the style makes use of props such as blocks, belts, and other tools with which one can first correct alignment and later on remove.
Iyengar yoga has given rise to many other forms of yoga such as restorative yoga and prenatal yoga. These styles also tend to focus on alignment and make use of props as support in practice.
Iyengar Yoga Benefits
Though there are many benefits of Iyengar yoga the most noticeable one is improved posture. Once one’s posture is improved there are many accompanying benefits such as pain relief, strengthening of muscles, and an increase in flexibility.
If you have problems with posture this could be the answer to improving your alignment and ultimately your quality of life.
5) Yin Yoga
Yin yoga is a newer style of yoga as it was founded in the 1970s. It is a style that has incorporated some traditional Chinese medicine beliefs and practices.
This is a form of yoga that makes use of a slower practice style. Therefore, postures are held for longer periods of time.
This method has been designed to put stress on the connective tissues within the body. These connective tissues include the tendons, ligaments, and fasciae.
Yin yoga is not intended to be utilized as an entire and complete yoga practice but is instead used as a complementary style to many other styles.
Yin Yoga Benefits
The main benefits that Yin yoga offers are an increase in circulation within the body as well as flexibility.
6) Bikram Yoga
Developed by Bikram Choudhury, Bikram yoga became popular in the 1970s. the defining feature of this yoga style is the fact that it is practiced in a room where the temperature has been raised to 105 F˚ with a humidity of 40%. This is done to recreate the climate in which one would typically practice yoga in India.
This style is derived from Hatha yoga and therefore makes use of many of its practices and poses in its curated environment. Bikram yoga is extremely demanding physically and therefore one requires a high skill level for Bikram yoga.
Bikram Yoga Benefits
Physically it provides a wide variety of benefits such as increased lower body strength, a wider range of motion in one’s upper body, and it detoxifies your body due to a high level of perspiration during practice.
A traditional Bikram class consists of 26 poses and two breathing exercises throughout the yoga class.
7) Vinyasa Flow
Vinyasa is a popular and fairly new yoga style that focuses on flows. It emphasizes the smooth transitions within a flow and is known to incorporate many styles of yoga.
Where Ashtanga has a set sequence of positions in a flow, Vinyasa often switches up the way in which positions flow into one another, providing a level of freedom in a flow. Each pose and movement is combined with breathing to enhance stretches and contractions.
This is a style that almost anyone on any fitness level can start with and enjoy. If one is searching for a more challenging experience that still resembles Vinyasa, then power yoga could be a consideration. This is a more energetic style of Vinyasa yoga.
Vinyasa Flow Benefits
The benefits of Vinyasa yoga include stress relief, an increase in fitness level, and a reduction in arterial stiffness which therefore increase heart health.
8) Jivamukti Yoga
Jivamukti yoga was developed in the 1980s and combines strenuous practice with spiritual and ethical values. It has a heavy focus on social activism, environmental well-being, veganism, and respect for animals.
A class will typically include chanting, music, meditation, and a vinyasa-based physical practice that makes use of vigorous asana.
Jivamukti Yoga Benefits
When you practice Jivamukti yoga you can expect an array of benefits also found in other styles. The benefits of this style include an increase in strength and flexibility, detoxification, weight loss, a decrease in stress, and improved circulation.
9) Anusara Yoga
Known as the modern version of Hatha yoga, this style focuses on people enjoying their yoga practice. It strives to achieve a level of bliss during practice and encourages students to appreciate the beauty that life has to offer.
As it is heavily influenced by Hatha yoga it does have a strong focus on slow and deliberate movement. It also places emphasis on the correct alignment of body, mind, and spirit.
Anusara Yoga Benefits
The benefits of Anusara yoga are strongly linked to a mindset shift where one is more aware of one’s health both mentally and physically. Once this shift has taken place, one is more open to making improvements in all aspects of life.
One can also expect an increase in flexibility, strength, and overall happiness.
Which Style Do I Choose?
Deciding on which style of yoga is best for you is completely up to you. It is all about deciding what you want out of a yoga class.
If you are more drawn to the spiritual elements of yoga, then Kundalini might be more suited to you. However, if you are interested in reaping a variety of physical benefits, then a style such as Ashtanga or Bikram might be more your speed.
Which is the Hardest Form of Yoga
Yoga is notorious for being as challenging as you make it.
Focussing on more challenging poses, or increasing the amount of time that you flow for will definitely make yoga harder.
However, Bikram yoga is probably the most physically challenging of all the styles. It is considered to be the hardest form of yoga due to the environment and climate that is created, making every movement considerably harder to perform.
It is advisable to take a lot of water with you to such a yoga class, as you will be losing a substantial amount of fluids during the session.
Which is the Best Type of Yoga for Beginners
Any style of yoga can be attempted by beginners as you’re able to scale a class to your own ability. However, if you are worried, then something like Vinyasa flow is a good place to start.
Hatha is also a fantastic option for beginners, as it creates a good base on which one can build. After all, correct posture is one of the main building blocks of any type of exercise.
Final Thoughts on the Different Types of Yoga and Their Benefits
Now that you know all about the different types of yoga and their benefits, you are ready to start your yoga journey. Grab your yoga mat, find an appropriate space in your home, and experience the inner peace, tranquillity, and physical connection you’ve been craving.