There are many different types of yoga it might be hard to choose what works best for you. Whether you are looking for something restorative, something powerful, or something just to feel like you got a nice stretch, the different types of yoga can suit each need.
An excellent way to discover what type of yoga works best for you is to attend different types of classes. Get a good feel of what you get from each type of yoga and what you enjoyed from it. Some yoga teachers have their own flow, some follow traditions, and some like to incorporate other activities (for example, goat yoga) into their classes.
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Ashtanga yoga is the strength building and stretching series best for people who are looking to feel empowered. There are four different series of Ashtanga: beginners, intermediate, advanced A, and advanced B. Traditionally, your yoga teacher would be the one who would let you know when you could advance to the next level.
The Ashtanga yoga series and philosophies were created by an individual or family by the name of Patanjali. The series is based on the 8 Limbs of Ashtanga Yoga Philosophy. Each limb teaches you how to purify your mind and body through the sequence, breath control, meditation, sense withdrawal, and focus. The ultimate goal of the 8 Limbs of Ashtanga Yoga is to reach a state of enlightenment.
The series is very challenging and requires a lot of discipline and strength to master. This of course comes with a lot of practice. The sequence helps you learn to master your breathing with each posture as well as this is where the real power comes from.
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Vinyasa Yoga is a branch of Ashtanga Yoga. There are a lot of the same postures, but with vinyasa, you are free to create your own sequences. A Vinyasa is a flowing sequence that is performed in each posture. With each movement, your breathing is synchronized with the movement. The series varies from teacher to teacher as vinyasa is kind of a “free-flow” sequence. Most teachers create their own sequencing.
Vinyasa yoga classes can also be theme-based. For example, some vinyasa classes could be focused on building up the muscles to do a specific arm balance, or a hip opener series to do specific challenging postures. There is a lot of variety with Vinyasa and is good for people who enjoy the flexibility and variety.
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Ha = sun, tha = moon.
This type of yoga is about balancing both oppositions within. In yoga, the belief is that the right side of the body is associated with Nadi Pingala, and the left with the Ida Pingala. In other words, each Pingala represents our parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system (fight, flight, or freeze).
Hatha is kind of the “mother” of most types of yoga. It is the same general postures and breath control, just no vinyasas between.
If you are new to yoga, or might not want something too strenuous, Hatha yoga might be a good way to start.
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Bhakti Yoga is the type of yoga you might want to try if you are looking for a stronger spiritual path with yoga. The word Bhakti means devotion, and although all types of yoga are spiritual, Bhakti has a lot more focus on prayer, meditation, and devotion to a higher source.
The practice incorporates a lot of mantras and spending time in prayer acknowledging a higher consciousness. It can help lift your spirit and move your mind and thinking towards enlightenment. Bhakti Yoga incorporates well into other types of yoga practices.
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Bikram yoga is named after Bikram Choudhury who invented this type of yoga in the 1970s. This type of yoga has become very popular in the west as people see significant results from practicing frequently. Up to 105 degrees is the temperature to practice Bikram in.
The class consists of 26 yoga postures that are done in a specific order. The classes take about one and a half hours and the heat is meant to sweat out the toxins, increase flexibility, and improve circulation. Some people enjoy Bikram because, with all the sweating, a few pounds slip off as well.
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Sharon Ganon and David Life founded Jivamukti Yoga in 1984. Jivamukti yoga has five main aspects: ahimsa (non-violence), nada (music), bhakti (devotion), shastra (scripture), and dhyana (meditation).
This physical and enduring practice is good for people who want to incorporate both the physical and spiritual practice into their life. The physical enduring practice helps decrease stress and toxins in the body which helps you become a more spiritual and compassionate being. The intention of Sharon Ganon and David Life was to create a modern-day practice that incorporates traditional methods.
If you are looking for something physically and intellectually stimulating, this type of yoga is for you.
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Rocket yoga is a modified version of ashtanga yoga. Larry Schultz, a student of the great ashtanga teacher K. Pattabhi Jois, created rocket yoga. The practice has similar postures and sun salutations as ashtanga, but is more fast-paced and can vary with each teacher.
Rocket yoga is the type of yoga for people who like ashtanga but would like something a bit more flexible. You can pick and choose which postures you would like in your sequence and focus more on those, rather than the strict routine of the ashtanga yoga series.
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Restorative yoga is the type of yoga for people who are just needing a good rest. The postures are held for longer periods of time and many props (and blankets) are used to support the body. The purpose of the practice is to help your body move into a deeper state of relaxation and to help relax the nervous system.
If you are going through a stressful time and your body and mind are feeling drained, this type of yoga is right for you.