Yoga is an intentional discipline. Your purpose, or the reason you practice yoga, might be anything you’d like to cultivate. When you practice yoga with an intention, you receive more out of your time on the mat. It can be for improved health, compassion, strength, weight loss, mindfulness, pain relief, or several other goals. Moreover, having an intention will also assist you in selecting the type of yoga that is best for you. Whether it is Ashtanga, Iyengar, or any other style, knowing which one to pick is always better than just trying all the types one after the other. Therefore, here is a guide to choosing the right type of yoga to fit your intention. Read it from top to bottom and pick the yoga type that will benefit you the most.
Nearly all the yoga styles in this guide fall under the umbrella term of hatha. Most contemporary yoga classes follow this ancient approach, which involves the practice of asanas (yoga postures) and pranayama (breathing techniques). Hatha yoga is a generic category of yoga styles and a particular style of yoga. A hatha yoga session will generally start with pranayama, mindfulness, or other practices to set the stage and establish a connection with the body, mind, and breath. Following a warm-up of shorter, more accessible poses, the majority of the class will consist of static holds of the poses. Rather than being linked together in a flow, you will perform one posture before the teacher instructs you to switch to another, and the session will finally finish with savasana. If you aim to increase flexibility, mobility, and mind-body connection, hatha is the type of yoga to fit your intention.
Yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar created a form of yoga that strongly emphasizes alignment and body placement. The method accommodates students with varied flexibility and fitness levels by incorporating props to support postures. Students who suffer from ailments, frailty, or inflexibility can benefit from tools like yoga bricks or blocks that raise the floor or cotton yoga straps that help with stretching. Iyengar teachers pay meticulous attention to body alignment, which results in accurate and dynamic asanas. Due to the focus required to execute each posture correctly and the attention provided throughout the class, Iyengar yoga takes longer. Iyengar yoga is perfect for beginners who might appreciate assistance with challenging positions and want to become more centered.
In Vinyasa, a relatively newer form of yoga that evolved from Hatha, you practice asanas, pranayama, and mindfulness exercises. Physical postures (asanas) in vinyasa are organized into a flow where you transition smoothly from one posture to the next, incorporating all of the main categories of yoga poses intended to move the body in all directions. Depending on the instructor, vinyasa yoga’s difficulty level can vary, but it is often at least moderately and frequently harder. This type of yoga is good for you if you aim to increase mobility, flexibility, strength, and heart health.
Ashtanga, the most active and energetic type of yoga, uses a steady stream of movement to practice yoga. This type of yoga, often known as vinyasa or power yoga, is popular among professional athletes seeking a more challenging practice. In Ashtanga, the body generates heat to eliminate toxins. A variety of asanas are performed by the students, interspersed with Sun Salutations. In Ashtanga yoga, flexibility, strength, and endurance are prioritized. Moreover, ashtanga sessions are great for people looking to improve their physical and spiritual well-being via yoga and those who are agile and flexible enough to link positions quickly. Therefore, this type of yoga can teach you ways to stay on track, especially if you are looking for relapse prevention strategies as a former substance addict.
Kundalini yoga combines asana, pranayama, meditation, chanting, and concentration to help practitioners reach their most significant level of being and awareness. Its goal is to awaken the latent kundalini energy at the spine’s base. The Sanskrit term kundal, which means “coiled energy,” is whence kundalini gets its name. There are three segments in a typical kundalini yoga class. A welcome chant that will help you tune in at the beginning of class, followed by a warm-up and kriya (a series of poses paired with breathing exercises), and the session will end with a meditation, chant, or song. Kundalini yoga uses more breath practice than other yoga classes since it is so spiritual. Kundalini is the right type of yoga to fit your intention if you seek more passion and creativity.
In yin yoga, positions are held for up to five minutes or more. It is a kind of yoga having origins in both yoga and martial arts, and its goals are to promote flexibility and joint circulation. The technique concentrates on the hips, lower back, and thighs and employs bolsters, blankets, and blocks as supports to allow gravity to do the work and promote relaxation. Yin yoga focuses on the body’s connective tissues rather than the large muscle groups, like other styles of yoga do. This kind of yoga is excellent for anybody who wants to unwind and take it easy, especially if you want to balance out a more demanding workout regimen, gain greater flexibility, or have a medical condition restricting your movement.
It’s crucial to remember that every teacher has their unique approach, and two classes theoretically taught in the same manner may be highly different depending on the instructor. Therefore, try various courses and find a teacher you can connect with, whether you want to learn a new yoga style or are pursuing more education. Only so you can be sure, you are choosing the right type of yoga to fit your intention.