If you are one of those people for whom yoga seems like a “wimpy” form of exercise with minimal health benefits: think again! While there are certainly some yoga classes that more closely resemble kindergarten nap time than they do the Boston marathon, not all yoga is the same.
While all yoga classes utilize various poses and postures to help clear the mind, create balance in the body and work those muscles (sometimes until they’re sore), depending on the type of practice, yoga can also increases strength, bolster flexibility and can even be a killer cardio workout as well! Sure, some forms of yoga are slow-moving and focus on stretching, but other forms can be done at a sweat-inducing pace and or incorporate such intense muscular endurance that even The Hulk would be fatigued.
What most of us probably don’t know, though, is how many different styles of yoga there are and how to tell the difference between them. (We certainly didn’t!) To help you find the best practice for you, here we lay out a few of the more popular types of yoga – that way, the next time you head to a yoga class, you won’t be pleasantly (or not so pleasantly) surprised by what you’ve signed up for.
Hatha, a simple form of yoga for beginners, is the foundation for all forms of yoga. Between regulated breathing, postures and meditation, this style of yoga will not only give you a workout but also certainly subdue your stress level in order to achieve self-realization.
Iyenga yoga, is almost exactly like Hatha, only that more awareness is placed on the structural alignment of the body.
Vinyasa yoga focuses on flexibility, strength and coordination while moving in succession of poses with the goal of building heat in the body from the inside out.
Ashtanga (or Astanga) is a more aggressive type of Vinyasa. Requiring concentration and increasing both strength and endurance, this workout will challenge you mentally and physically.
Bikram moves you through a series of poses and postures in a heated room between the temperatures of 95 and 105 degrees. The goal: to build muscular strength and increase flexibility, while sweating out toxins in the process.