24 March 2023
Types of Yoga and What They're Best For
Yoga is a magical practice that has been around for thousands of years, offering countless benefits to those who practise. There are many types of yoga, each with its own unique characteristics and benefits. From relaxation and increased flexibility to the development of discipline and spirituality, yoga can help you connect mind, body, and spirit in ways that will enhance your overall well being.
Yoga is more than just stretching. Practising yoga strengthens your body, mind, emotions, and spirit, bringing every part of your being into complete balance. Different styles of yoga have a vast array of benefits, from relaxation and renewal, to poses designed to energise and invigorate!
As a trained yogi myself, I wholeheartedly believe that yoga is the foundation to managing a nourishing lifestyle for the mind and body. But with a plethora of yoga styles out there, it can be challenging to determine the ideal one for you. To help, let’s delve into six of the most popular types of yoga and what they’re best for.
Hatha Yoga: Finding Balance
Hatha yoga is the most widely practised form of yoga and is the foundation for many other styles. Originating in India around 500 years ago, Hatha is a gentle and slow-paced style of yoga. During this practice, one focuses on finding balance in both the body and the mind.
In a typical Hatha yoga class, you’ll be guided in holding each pose for a few breaths, allowing you to find the right alignment and deepen the stretch. This style of yoga is best for those looking to increase flexibility, build strength, and find balance in their lives. As a beginner-friendly style, Hatha yoga is an ideal choice for anyone looking to start their yoga practice, or wanting to explore a more meditative approach.
Yin Yoga: Finding Stillness
Yin yoga is a slower and more passive style of yoga that focuses on holding poses for longer periods of time. This practice is defined by a series of seated and reclining postures that are typically held for several minutes each, providing an opportunity for deep stretching and relaxation. Yin yoga originated in the 1970s, and draws inspiration from Taoist philosophy. It has become increasingly popular in recent years as a complement to more active forms of yoga and exercise.
In Yin, each pose is usually held for 3-5 minutes, allowing you to sink deeper into the stretch and find stillness in both the body and the mind. Not only does this type of yoga increase flexibility and improve mobility, but it also helps reduce stress and anxiety. It’s a perfect choice for those who need a slower and more meditative practice. I personally love to practise Yin before bedtime to help calm my mind and relax my body for a deeper sleep.
Vinyasa Yoga: Moving with Breath
Vinyasa yoga is one of the more dynamic and flowing types of yoga that synchronises movement with breath. It’s characterised by a series of poses that flow together seamlessly, creating a meditative and invigorating experience.Vinyassa yoga is a relatively modern style of yoga that emerged in the 20th century, and has since become incredibly popular in Western culture.
Whether you are looking to deepen your mind-body connection or improve your physical wellness, Vinyasa yoga is an ideal practice to explore! The continuous flow of movement synchronised with controlled breathing, can elevate heart rate and improve overall cardiovascular health. The morning is a great time to practice Vinyasa when your mind and focus are sharp. The flow and poses of sun salutations are excellent ways to awaken your mind and body, getting your blood flowing and heart pumping.
Ashtanga Yoga: Challenging the Body and Mind
Originating in India in the 20th century, Ashtanga yoga is considered to be one of the more demanding styles of yoga that adheres to a specific sequence of postures. This practice is based on the eight limbs of yoga and is characterised by a sequence of sun salutations, standing poses, seated poses, and inversions.
If you’re seeking a more structured approach to yoga, this is the style for you! In a typical Ashtanga yoga class, you’ll be guided through a sequence of poses, focusing on linking breath with movement and building heat in the body. It can help towards enhancing strength, flexibility and mental focus, as well as developing a sense of self-discipline.
Kundalini Yoga: Awakening Energy
Another one of the ancient types of yoga is Kundalini – originating in India over 5000 years ago, this is a spiritual and transformative style of yoga that focuses on awakening the energy within the body. This type of yoga is rooted in the belief of the existence of a dormant energy, known as Kundalini, which is thought to reside at the base of the spine.
In a typical Kundalini yoga class, you can expect to practise a combination of physical postures, breathwork, meditation, and chanting. Kundalini yoga is an ideal practice for anyone seeking to enhance their spiritual connection, awaken their energy, and tap into their higher self. I’ve found this style to be especially wonderful in my exploration of the mystical and spiritual dimensions of yoga, as it combines meditation and chanting with movement.
As the focus of this yoga style is to awaken energy, Kundalini is best practised first thing in the morning. Use this powerful practice to connect with your inner self and start your day off with a positive mindset. Carpe diem!
Power Yoga: Building Strength and Endurance
Perhaps the most popular form of yoga, Power yoga is a dynamic and physically demanding style that is influenced by Ashtanga yoga. Power yoga originated in the West in the 1990s and is designed to build strength and endurance in the body.
Power yoga classes move through a series of poses that flow together quickly, building heat in the body and challenging the muscles. It is best for more experienced yoginis looking for a challenging and intense workout that builds strength, flexibility, and endurance. It’s also a great option for athletes or those who enjoy a more physical and athletic practice.
Each style of yoga has its own unique benefits and is best suited for different individuals and goals. Whether you’re looking to increase flexibility, build strength, find inner peace, or connect with your spirituality, there’s a type of yoga that’s perfect for you. So why not give it a try? Roll out your mat, take a deep breath, and allow yourself to be swept away by the magic of yoga. Namaste!