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8 Most Popular Types of Yoga

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Yoga is becoming more and more popular, not only as a method of exercise, but also as a practice in meditation and mindfulness. If you are just starting to research yoga, you might not know that there are many different types of yoga. Finding the type of yoga that helps you reach your goals and achieve a stronger, more limber body while promoting a calmer, more centered mind can be extremely beneficial. Here are the eight most popular types of yoga.

1. Hatha

If you see a yoga class that does not specify being a certain type of yoga, it is probably Hatha. It is the most popular and most common class offered in the United States and is designed to be both gentle on the body and good for the mind. It is all about striking and holding the poses, while focusing on your breathing patterns. For beginners, this is a particularly good option, as it lays the foundation for all other types of yoga. Taking a class in Hatha before moving on to other types of yoga will make you better prepared and more focused.

2. Vinyasa

If you are looking for yoga that is focused more on fitness than on mindfulness, this is probably the type you want to look for. The poses are usually linked into a routine, still synchronized with breathing, but designed specifically to develop strength and flexibility. In general, any upward movement will be an intake of breath and any downward movement will be an exhalation. Vinyasa might become very intense, depending on the teacher and the emphasis on fitness that particular class has.

3. Bikram

This is another of the most popular types of yoga, with classes available in most parts of the country. You may also hear it called hot yoga, because it is done in a room that is at least 105 degrees Fahrenheit or hotter. The heat is supposed to mimic the Indian climate and therefore maximizes the efficacy of the twenty-six pose routine that comes along with Bikram yoga. The heat is also supposed to make the body more flexible, preventing injuries while supporting detoxification. This class is designed to make you sweat, which is supposed to push the toxins out of your body.

4. Ashtanga

One of the more difficult types of yoga on this list, Ashtanga is often recommended for people that find other yoga classes too slow. This type of yoga presents the participant with six poses, starting at a basic level, and increasing in difficulty towards the sixth pose. Once you have learned the pose, you can proceed through the poses as quickly as you would like. This type of yoga is often only recommended for those who have extensive experience with yoga, because of the difficulty of the poses. Though it is difficult, this type of yoga is getting more and more popular as more and more people are looking for better ways to challenge their bodies.

5. Iyengar

Named after B.K.S. Iyengar, who was instrumental in developing this type of yoga, Iyengar is designed to get the body back into proper alignment. This is a good choice for individuals who often experience misalignment or who have been injured in a yoga class before. Its emphasis on finding the right alignment for each pose will help beginners and experienced yogis alike. Sometimes, classes will even implement gadgets, ropes, and belts to help their participants get the poses perfect. Iyengar is all about paying attention to the small details and helping beginning students or those with impairments to achieve the poses with as little difficulty as possible.

6. Kundalini

If you are looking to practice yoga specifically for the mental health benefits, you might find Kundalini your best option, especially if you have previously tried Hatha. This is one of the most ancient types of yoga and it is designed to challenge both the body and the mind. It has a strong emphasis on the spiritual and mental sides of yoga, but certainly does not neglect the physical side, either. Its focus on awakening the body’s energy and channeling it is paramount to Kundalini. While poses are still integral to this type of yoga, most classes also employ breathing exercises, meditation, and chanting as part of their routines.

7. Jivamukti

This is a type of yoga that is closely related to Vinyasa, but which asks much more of its participants. It is as much of a lifestyle as it is an exercise, hoping to guide its participants to enlightenment, rather than to just strengthen the body or increase mindfulness. There are five tenets to Jivamukti yoga, all of which are part of every class. It strives to hearken back to the original purpose of yoga, which is far beyond just physical exercise. It prides itself on being both highly meditative and highly challenging in a physical sense. If you are interested in this type of yoga, it might be worth your time to look for a beginner’s class, as this will usually provide you with a gradual introduction to the more difficult aspects of this practice.

8. Svaroopa

This type of yoga takes a different look at the poses that you learn in more traditional yoga disciplines. It takes common poses and adjusts them, to help open up the spine. More focused on the mind and on the spiritual aspect of yoga than necessarily on the physical aspect, this is a type of yoga that many looking for relief from a busy mind might choose.

If you are interested in starting yoga for the first time, or simply want to find yoga studios in your community, the Internet is a good place to start.  See what types of yoga are offered near your home or place of work, then make the time to try a class or two. Friends can also be a good resource, so if you know someone who does yoga regularly, ask them questions about the yoga studio they attend and get first-hand feedback on which classes and instructors might be a good fit for you. Namaste.

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