The Best Yoga for You
There are many types of yogas these days that make an effort to differentiate themselves from one another and emphasize certain areas of the whole practice of yoga. Typically, yoga works on your body, mind and spirit. But most Western yogas tend to concentrate on the body aspect.
If you live near a large city, you should be able to find several different types of yoga studios and teachers, including:
Hatha yoga is the most traditional of all forms of yoga. The name means willful or forceful, and the word is a fusion of hat (sun) and ha (moon) representing power and balance.
Hatha works with the power centers of your body, the chakras, as well as the muscles, bone and flesh for a natural workout. The primary focus is on surrendering to and perfecting the countless poses in this form of yoga. There are experts who can do increasingly difficult poses for flexibility. They also enhance their energy and concentration through meditation.
Iyengar yoga was created by B. K. S. Iyengar in the 1970s in India and is a product of Hatha yoga. Iyengar’s emphasis was on detail, perfection and perfect alignment for the asanas (poses) he learned and taught, in order to develop power, mobility and balance. Before his death at the age of 95, Iyengar was said to have mastered approximately 200 Hatha yoga asanas.
Vinyasa yoga is also referred as flow yoga. It uses the exact asanas as Hatha yoga, but they are put into sequences that move smoothly from one pose to another. The word vinyasa means “breath-synchronized movement,” which relates to the movements being done in conjunction with inhale and exhale patterns and for the asanas to be held for a certain count of breaths.
Kundalini yoga focuses on the balance of mind, body and spirit through the shifting of energy in the body, particularly in relation to the chakras or energy centers. Kundalini yoga has many exclusive postures configured to move the chakra energy up the spine. It does not need a lot of flexibility or stamina and can be done by anyone at any age. There are no levels to the classes the way there are with other forms of yoga such as Hatha.
Bikram yoga, founded in the 1970s by Bikram Choudhry from Bengal, is also known as hot yoga. It is pretty basic in some ways because it uses just two breathing exercises and 26 Hatha yoga poses done in the same routine every day for every lesson. However, the poses are challenging.
Ashtanga yoga is a type of Vinyasa yoga designed to flow the moves together, but in a more fast and challenging way. It was creatrd in the late 1940s by K. Pattabhi Jois from India. It has seven main series – a basic one, and significantly advanced ones. All of them are energetic and not many practitioners are known to have accessed the highest levels.
The form of yoga you choose should be based on your general physical health and endurance. If you are a beginner and/or senior, try Hatha or Kundalini if you could find a studio near you. For something more energetic but not too hard, try Vinyasa. Then see what a improvement yoga can make to your health and energy.