We all lead different lifestyles, but there is one common denominator for everyone – stress. It may be due to frustration of not getting enough opportunities, overload from too much work, or both. The umbrella solution for all these issues is yoga. Yoga will not fix everything, but it will significantly improve the quality of your life provided you make the right choice.
Your choice of a Yoga style should depend on your goals. There are slow and fast-paced yoga styles, and they all cater to a different type of audience. We have listed five different styles of yoga to help you make an educated choice.
This style of yoga is for the physically fit bunch. People who love a fast-paced challenge and want to get their spirits up will enjoy Ashtanga yoga. Ashtanga yoga was brought about by Pattabhi Jois about 60 years ago. This form of yoga integrates several Asanas into a fast-paced sequence. The whole series is bound together by the breath.
Due to this, you must have a healthy amount of stamina before you start Ashtanga yoga. Even though students are encouraged to master each Asana at their own pace, it is quite tough to transition between Asanas quickly. Always remember to bring a couple of towels and the required quantity of water to class with you. The beginning and end of each series will remain the same.
The ones who love a logical structure and progressive steps will find Ashtanga yoga perfect. If you are inflexible, out of shape and suffer from injuries, then start with gentler forms of yoga.
The crucial part of Iyengar yoga is integrating the body, mind and emotions. The importance is given to holding each Asana and perfecting the right alignment. The teacher of Iyengar yoga is trained to guide all ages. It is why Iyengar is an ideal style for beginners (1). Iyengar yoga prepares your body for the fast-paced forms. It makes use of props to provide additional support to the body.
If your muscles are stiff and you have never done yoga, then Iyengar is the best option for you. It also benefits you if you have any injuries. However, you are recommended to inform the yoga instructor about them. Iyengar yoga can help your body heal from past physical trauma.
The main prospect of Iyengar yoga is achieving perfection in the Asanas, even if it means using additional support from straps, blocks, bolsters and other props. If you are a detail-oriented perfectionist wanting to understand the mechanics behind each Asana, then Iyengar is the ideal style of yoga for you.
Hot yoga is an umbrella term for any physical or meditative style of yoga done in a hot room. The temperature varies between 80 degrees F and 100 degrees F. It was found by Bikram Choudhary, a controversial name in the yoga community. Bikram yoga is one of the most widely-known forms of hot yoga.
The proponents of hot yoga argue that it detoxifies the body and increases flexibility. It is, however, debated whether sweating removes toxins or only electrolytes. Despite its popularity, hot yoga is not for everyone. If you suffer from any health problems at all, hot yoga is not for you.
Dizziness and dehydration are common, so carry several towels and water bottles. If you like a sauna experience and are in excellent physical health, then hot yoga might be the right choice for you. Advisable is that people who have reached menopause should avoid hot yoga.
Vinyasa is also a “flow” yoga style, but it is not as fixed and rigid like Ashtanga. It is a little more gentle compared to Ashtanga. Hence, people looking for a combination of entry-level gentle yoga and energizing power-yoga may find Vinyasa to be an ideal style.
Vinyasa is a more spontaneous and flexible style. The quick pace is difficult for a newcomer, but one can catch up to it. Vinyasa pays special attention to the transitional steps between Asanas. The changing Asanas represent the temporary nature of everything in life and teach us to let go of things systemically and steadily.
Breath is the linking aspect of all the Asanas. Larry Payne, the co-author of “Yoga for Dummies”, says that the fast-paced, “flow” styles of yoga are for the young and restless crowd. Vinyasa yoga improves strength, balance and flexibility.
Healthy newcomers wanting to get rid of unnecessary tiredness and boredom may find Vinyasa to be the ideal style for them.
As the name suggests, the prospect of Restorative yoga is to restore normalcy to your physical and mental well-being. Do not try this style for weight loss because burning calories is not the priority here. It is for people who have injuries, mobility problems and inflexibility.
It involves a lot of props to help you relax, such as pillows, blankets and straps. It reduces stiffness as you must hold a gentle, passive Asana for a long time. Sportspersons who have suffered from injuries or people who have mentally draining jobs may find this style to be ideal. Restorative yoga gives your nerves a well-deserved break after a long, stressful day.
Yoga has benefited people for years. Intriguingly, such an ancient practice could be relevant even today. Yoga keeps evolving every day to tackle the dynamic circumstances of our life.
Yoga is a beneficial addition to your life, irrespective of how good or bad you feel about your situation. For the ones who are in a difficult position, yoga will help you make a better change. For the ones who are okay, there is always room for betterment.
Ally Cooper, MS, RDN is a registered dietitian with a Master’s in Human Nutrition. Ally is also an advocate of real vs fake supplements. Ally has been featured and quoted in publications like Parade Magazine, The Healthy, Fitbit.com. ALly is passionate about fitness and when she is busy reviewing supplements, she listens to her favourite music and chill. 🙂