Top 10 Yoga Styles

Last week we touched on the basics of yoga, this week we are diving into top 10 yoga styles to look at what they each offer.

Hatha

This is the most well-known form of yoga. Typically, if the term “yoga” is used without further reference, it’s safe to conclude this is the type being referred to. Hatha yoga focuses on the basic sequences and yoga poses. Hatha means “movement”, so many different yoga styles and practices can fall under this umbrella term. Hatha is a great way to introduce yourself to yoga, as it introduces several key poses, stretches, and breathing techniques. However, it remains gentle and slow, without challenging sequence connections that can be found in other yoga styles. Many people venture onto more challenging practices once they understand the basics of hatha.
Benefits of this yoga style include improved flexibility and reduced stress.

Visyana

A good progression from hatha, visyana yoga focuses on smooth connections between breathing and movement, utilizing a variety of poses to accomplish this. Rather than focuses on each individual pose separately, you will learn how to fluidly move from one pose to another, without losing touch with your breathing pattern. You will begin to really understand the body-mind connection and meditation benefits of practicing yoga. Many people find they also become more aware of connections in other areas of their life, such as relationships, work, and family—which can help bring positive change when needed.

Bikram

This is a hot topic, and we do mean literally! This currently trendy yoga style requires participants to complete the sequences in a hot room or tent, typically above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re up for a challenge, a good sweat session, and a truly unique experience, this is the yoga practice for you. There are more health risks involved with this form of yoga due to the extreme temperatures it is practiced in. For this reason, it’s important to make sure you are overall healthy before attempting it. Listen to your body and make sure you are well hydrated before and after your session.

Also known as hot yoga, this style is a great way to cleanse the mind and become mentally stronger as you push yourself to practice yoga in extreme heat, while purifying the body through an intense amount of sweat (the body’s way of cleansing itself).

Iyengar

Although this style of yoga is a form of hatha yoga, it has a greater focus on detail. It begins very slowly with deliberate movements, poses, and sequences, but gradually becomes more difficult. The development of the students in the practice is what makes iyengar stand out. This yoga practice also utilizes props to assist in the poses and sequences, something not all forms of yoga require. While many yogis have mixed feelings on the use of props in yoga, they do allow a greater variety of students to take part and can minimize strain on the body. Because the focus of this practice is detail and proper body alignment, the instructors will help the students to make sure proper alignment is achieved so that the student achieves the most benefit from the posture.

Top 10 yoga stylesAshtanga

Ashtanga is ideal for individuals looking to practice yoga while wanting to feel like they’ve had a workout as well. Breathing and progressive postures are the focus of this practice, which gradually increases body temperature and requires muscle control and flexibility—both of which are greatly increased through regularly practicing this style of yoga. It promotes a calm body and mind through increased circulation.
One unique aspect of this practice is that there are six separate sequences of poses that are always practiced in the same order. Students will begin with the first sequence, and work their way up to the sixth sequence, with advanced students performing several sequences in a row.

Kundalini

A deeply meditative yoga style, kundalini is based on the concept of a strong energy kept in the base of the spine. The focus is to wake up that energy and students often report a tingling sensation in their spine once they have achieved a kundalini awakening, which is the ultimate goal of the practice. The breathing and movements in this yoga style begin with a focus on the lower body, gradually moving up toward the head. The main idea is to unleash the energy from the base of the body and extend it through the top of the head, which is what happens during the awakening. The primary benefit of this practice is the increase in spinal flexibility and stability achieved through regular participation.

Jivamukti

A relatively young yoga style, this practice combines not only the body and mind, but ethics and spirituality as well. It has five separate components, known as tenets: sashtra, bhakti, ahimsa, nada, and dhyana. It also has a great focus on being kind to the environment, veganism, and social responsibility—making it very popular among celebrities and preservationists. Celebrities also like this yoga style because it is physically challenging and helps promote a strong, lean, balanced physique. This same results it has on the mind.

Restorative

Just like it sounds, restorative yoga helps replenish and restore the body as well as the mind. It is perhaps the gentlest form of yoga in existence and focuses on gentle movements. Props are utilized to ease the students into each position, allowing the position to be held longer because it is more comfortable. The ability to hold the poses for extended periods help the body and mind open up and experience a deeply rooted benefit from the stretches and meditation combined.

Restorative yoga is very relaxing, making it a good way to end the day, practice on vacation, or recover from an injury. Most people come away from restorative sessions feeling extremely relaxed and refreshed, no matter what the rest of their day entailed.

Power Yoga

In contrast to restorative yoga, power yoga puts more strain on the body and is often referred to as fitness yoga because it is more challenging on the body than more traditional yoga styles. While posture and breathing are both very important in this practice as well, it also requires quicker transitions between movements and streamlined sequences that bring up the heart rate. Students in this practice can expect to sweat and build strength, as well as flexibility. This style focuses more on the physical aspects of yoga and movement than it does on the spiritual side, although many people who enjoy the meditation benefits of yoga still enjoy practicing power yoga as part of a balanced fitness and meditation routine.

Kripalu

This style of yoga’s primary focus is self-empowerment and individual growth. It is a great way to learn about yourself and become stronger, allowing the students to achieve their goals outside of their yoga practice as well. It is a progression of movements to help learn what your body and mind are both capable of and is often used as a way to reduce stress, anxiety, and promote a variety of emotional and psychological healing.

Louise and Richard Thomas founders of the Thailand Fitness Bootcamp at the Spa Resort Chiang Mai

Have you practiced any of these yoga styles? Do you practice a style not mentioned here? Would you like to learn more about the different yoga styles? Let us know on your favorite social media outlet (facebook, twitter), we want to hear! We believe yoga can be good for the body and mind, no matter what your style preference may be!

Want to know more about yoga? Here is another blog which will tell you more about the magic of yoga. Enjoy the blog!

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