The Different Types of Yoga … Which is Right For You?


Yoga has been part of my fitness routine for a few years now.  I adore it.  But that has not always been the case.  It took some trial and error for me to find the type of yoga that suited me best.  And everyone is different . . . so today I invite you to learn a bit about the wide range of yoga styles!

photo credit: six4eleven photography

If you already practice yoga, maybe you will be introduced to something new!  And if you have not tried yoga, I encourage you to see if a particular style speaks to you.

Guest Post:  The Different Types of Yoga … Which is Right For You?

There are many healing and spiritual benefits to yoga and a style suited to just about everyone.

If you’re a beginner, the number of choices can seem overwhelming. Any style of yoga will help improve balance, strength and flexibility. Yoga also helps release tension and quiets the mind. In order to enjoy the experience, get the most benefit and avoid injury, you should choose a yoga style that suits your current level of fitness.

To find the yoga style that’s right for you, ask yourself a few simple questions:

1. Why have you decided to take up yoga? There are many reasons to doing yoga including increased flexibility, fitness as an exploration of the mind-body connection. If you are already doing lots of strength training and aerobics, you might choose a yoga style that focuses on flexibility. If have an injury, you may want to try a gentle type of yoga.

2. Are you starting yoga physically fit? In this case you may want a vigorous workout. In this case, try Ashtanga, Bikram or Power yoga.

Ashtanga yoga is very physically demanding. Not for beginners, Ashtanga involves a nonstop series of yoga poses and is very strenuous. The goal is to generate body heat. This in turn helps the body burn off toxins, relax tight muscles and loosen joints.

Bikram Yoga is also vigorous and requires certain level of fitness. Be prepared to sweat as Bikram studios are heated above 100 degrees. Be sure to check with your health care practitioner, to determine if you have a medical condition that would make it unwise to do Bikram yoga. Power Yoga is one of the most athletic forms of yoga. It builds upper-body strength as well as flexibility and balance. Power Yoga is a vigorous workout and is likely to work up a sweat.

3. Are you starting with an injury or a chronic medical condition? Or are you out of shape? In these cases, you have plenty of options. Start with a slower, more gentle, restorative style such as Hatha, Iyengar, Kripalu, Varoopa, Viniyoga or Integrative yoga therapy.

Hatha yoga is great for newbies. It tends to be a generalized term for classes where an instructor has combined a few different yoga styles to create a simple class that’s good for beginners.

Iyengar yoga is relaxing, has a leisurely pace, and is an excellent choice for beginners or those with physical limitations. Benefits include reduced tension, toned muscles and easing of chronic pain.

Kripalu starts with the first stage, postural alignment and coordination of breath. The student progresses to add meditation holding postures for longer periods. Dynamic yet gentle, you will touch the peace and tranquility that lies within.

Svaroopa promotes healing while you relax into a deeply peaceful state of mind. You are supported in a yoga pose more comfortably than you could create for yourself. New students find this a very approachable style, often beginning in chair asanas that are comfortable and have a deep healing effect. Viniyoga is another gentle style of yoga that focuses on how your breath moves through your body, affecting each pose. The style is ideal for beginners and people who want to focus on injury recovery, flexibility, and relaxation. Integrative yoga therapy adapts a gentle series of poses to people with specific medical conditions. Teachers emphasize the mind-body connection, self-acceptance, and the calming effects of yoga, as well as the physical poses themselves.

4. Is your goal to tap into the meditative and spiritual aspects of yoga? Try one of the yoga styles that include meditation and chanting.

Kundalini yoga may be exactly what you want. Kundalini has a focus on the breath, and is done to awaken the Kundalini energy in the spine by with poses, breath control, chanting, and meditation. Kundalini yoga is more spiritual and philosophical in approach than other styles of yoga.  Classes include meditation, breathing techniques such as alternate nostril breathing, and chanting as well as yoga postures.

Yoga instructors often blend one or more yoga styles and even develop their own signature style.  Start by trying a few of the most common styles of yoga to determine which one suits you best. Then try a few different instructors within that style of yoga. You are more likely to stick with it and enjoy your yoga practice if you find an instructor or style that you feel comfortable with.

David Howard is writing on behalf of Gaiam TV, a healthy lifestyle media company based in Colorado. Gaiam TV specializes in conscious living, online yoga videos, and wellness resources.


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  1. says

    Thanks for breaking this down! I know very little about the types of yogas other than the few I’ve done. I took a kundalini yoga class years ago and LOVED it. It was my favorite but surprisingly hard to find here.

  2. says

    This was really informative! Thanks so much for sharing. I find that even though I’ve been doing yoga for nearly 10 years (gosh that makes me feel old…), I never want to move beyond beginner styles. Whenever I try to push myself more, I find I stop enjoying it. I guess when I do yoga I’m looking for total relaxation and gentle stretching.

  3. says

    Thanks for the Yoga breakdown. I was so disappointed yesterday when I tried to sign myself and my husband Todd up for beginner’s yoga and the class was full! Cassie and her husband are in but Todd and I will have to wait another month :-(. We’re looking forward to adding yoga to our fitness regime soon!

    • says

      I wish I could get my husband to take a class with me! He’s tried some of my “20 min. yoga” podcasts, but he won’t go to a class. I actually think he’d like it if he gave it a try! Hope you end up liking your class next month! :)

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