Are you thinking of starting your yoga journey but feeling overwhelmed over which type to choose? Being an ancient practice, yoga has developed and branched out into many different teachings, each one with different strength requirements and sequences.
If you’re a beginner and want to take it slow, consider Hatha or Yin yoga. If you have a lot of physical strength and don’t mind a challenge, a more fast-paced yoga type like Vinyasa is the perfect fit for you. Bear always in mind to make your yoga mat less slippery to avoid accidents.
Keep reading to learn all about the different yoga types available and discover the meaning, purpose, and asana sequences for each specific yoga practice.
What Is Yoga?
Yoga is an ancient mind-body practice with over 5,000 years of history in ancient India. It’s a group of exercises and movements that involve both the physical body and the mind using asanas (yoga poses), breathing techniques, chants, mantras, and meditations.
Nowadays, yoga is spread all over the world and divided into many types, teachings, and philosophies. One thing is for sure, though: whichever type of yoga you plan to try, you’ll be sure to benefit from the many yoga health and wellness benefits.
These include but are not limited to:
- Improved flexibility
- Improved strength and balance
- Improved posture
- Muscle tension relief
- Improved blood circulation
- More energy and vitality
- Relaxation and stress relief
- Improved sleep
- Pain relief
- Improved digestion
- Weight loss (in some yoga types)
With so many benefits, all you need to do is read through these yoga types and choose the best one for your lifestyle and health goals. Even if you’re a beginner, yoga is one of the easiest ways to move your body and implement some exercise into your day.
What Are the Different Types of Yoga?
Though yoga is a uniform term for the ancient practice, it’s subdivided into different types of yoga based on their founders and sequence types. These differ in terms of the number of asanas, sequence order, environment where they’re performed, their purpose, and whether they include breathing exercises.
Read on below to learn more about each type of yoga, the sequences it includes, and how you can start practicing it.
The word Vinyasa (in Sanskrit) means “to put in a special way” and this refers to yoga poses. Vinyasa is a fast-paced type of yoga where you do the asanas and sequences in coordination with your breath.
In other words, you don’t stay in a pose for long; instead, you move into the next one, and the next one with no breaks in between. This is why Vinyasa yoga is also called Flow Yoga, as you “flow” into the sequences of moving constantly.
Unlike some yoga types that do the same sequences every class, in Vinyasa you’ll do a different sequence each time. This is great if you don’t like repetition or want to switch things up in your practice.
Hatha yoga is considered the easiest kind of yoga because of its relaxed, gentle poses and sequences. There’s no rush to complete the sequence, so you can learn the different poses and do the asanas at your own pace.
Hatha yoga is an introduction to yoga poses which is why it’s the most common type beginners choose. It’s also the most common type of yoga taught in yoga studios around the world.
Though you may not break a sweat or burn calories with Hatha yoga, you’ll leave the class feeling more flexible, lighter, relaxed, and full of energy.
Yin yoga is one of the more relaxing, slow-paced types of yoga that focuses on seated asanas that you need to hold anywhere from 45 seconds to 2 minutes. The goal is to help the body adjust its posture, build muscle strength, and most of all, relax and get into a meditative state.
Yin yoga can sometimes be referred to as “restorative yoga” but these two types are not the same. Yin yoga focuses on applying gentle pressure to certain tissues so they can release built-up tension and stress.
Yin yoga is great for beginners who don’t mind sitting for an hour (as all Yin yoga poses are on the mat) and who want to gain some flexibility before trying a more challenging yoga practice.
Kundalini yoga is the perfect mix between spiritual and physical. This type of yoga combines asanas for your body and breath exercises for your mind.
The goal of Kundalini yoga is to help your body release pent-up energy, specifically in your spine and lower back area. This is where a lot of negative energy gets stored and can lead to back pain, back tension, and energy blockages.
In Sanskrit, Kundalini translates to life force energy, so when you do this type of yoga, expect to make your way through a lot of breathwork, mantras, chanting, and meditation, alongside the asanas.
Hot yoga is one of the most challenging yoga types both mentally and physically but in a good way. It’s a fast-paced yoga practice taking place in a heated room at 105 degrees F and 40% humidity.
The sequence can be intense for some people, so it’s best to check your overall health and consult your doctor before you sign up for hot yoga.
Hot yoga is also the best yoga for weight loss as you sweat a lot and move between asanas constantly with almost no breaks. To learn all about losing weight safely, visit this page for more details.
Ashtanga yoga is one of the most physically demanding yoga types. It follows a specific sequence of asanas that you’ll learn by heart and repeat at each class in the same way.
There are no variations or added/removed sequences. Each asana is linked to a breath so you can get through the poses. Every Ashtanga practice begins with two sets of sun salutations and moves into standing poses for the rest of the sequence.
Other Types Of Yoga
Aside from the major types of yoga we talked about, there are some additional types of yoga that are a mix between two yoga types or completely new practices:
Acro yoga is basically yoga for two. You can do it with your partner or a friend and practice the poses using each other’s body and strength as support. Acro yoga is a combination of yoga and acrobatics so it requires a lot of physical strength and stamina to do the poses.
Aerial yoga is a newer type of yoga that combines asanas with other types of movement such as dancing and pilates using a hammock. In aerial yoga, you’ll be up in the air a lot, so you’ll build a lot of strength and flexibility. This type of yoga is also great for your neck, back, shoulders, and muscles.
Prenatal yoga is specifically adapted for pregnant women in all trimesters. It focuses on breathing, slow body movements, pelvic floor exercises, connecting with your body, bonding with the baby, and relaxation techniques.
Restorative yoga is one of the slowest, most relaxing types of yoga. As its name suggests, the goal is to soothe the body and mind, practice intentional breathing, and keep stress at bay. It’s very similar to Yin yoga in terms of offering total body relaxation, but Yin yoga has a different purpose than restorative yoga.
Iyengar yoga is one of the most challenging types of yoga not because it’s fast-paced or strenuous but because you’ll need to stay in the yoga poses for a long period of time.
Though this sounds easy, it’s more challenging than it looks because it requires a lot of body strength and flexibility to hold a pose the right way.
The Best Yoga Types for Beginners
Now that you have a little more understanding of all the different types of yoga, you might be wondering where and how to start doing yoga if you’re a complete beginner.
The answer depends on your current health, mindset, personal stamina, lifestyle, dietary habits, and your willingness to try new things. One of the simplest yoga types to start with is Hatha yoga as it’s a more gentle, beginner-friendly practice.
However, if you feel ready mentally and physically, you can also try some of the more challenging types of yoga such as Kundalini or Vinyasa. It all depends on what you want to achieve and how much time and self-discipline you have.
If you’re still not sure, talk to a yoga studio near you and ask for guidance. Attentive yoga teachers will assess your needs and won’t push you to do asanas you’re not ready for.
Learn All About the Different Yoga Types and Discover Which Style Is the Best for You
Whether you’re a complete beginner or have done some asanas before, there are different yoga types for different purposes and different ways of doing the asanas.
From the gentle beginner-friendly Hatha yoga to the more intense and fast-paced Bikram yoga, now you know which type is the best for your body, mind, goals, and lifestyle.
To discover more health and wellness posts like this one or learn more about yoga and other restorative practices, our blog has all sorts of useful information that you can use to improve your wellbeing.