The health benefits of Yoga are well known: stress-relief, flexibility, and strength. Yoga has become an important part of western fitness, travelling far from its ancient spiritual roots in India. Deciding which style is right for you; however, can be intimidating.
According to Health Magazine, Americans practicing Yoga skyrocketed from 4.3 million in 2001 to 16.5 million in a mere decade. I’ve practiced Yoga for the last three years, researching and learning through trial and error. If you’re looking to join us, here’s a quick primer on the main forms of Yoga that you are most likely to encounter.
Hatha is the basis of nearly all forms of Yoga. It is great for beginners as it forms the basis of the movements and stances of the other types. Classes usually allow you to move into the stances in a relaxed way. You will practice breathing, and be able to explore the meditative quality of Yoga as well. Hatha Yoga is in no way limited: you can progress as far as you like.
This is a very athletic style. Be prepared to move quickly and synchronize your breathing while moving between the stances. It’s a great workout, and you will definitely sweat. Power Yoga is a more recent, western style of Ashtanga and may hold the stances longer. This combines power, strength, as well as relaxation. This style of Yoga is aerobic, and is not recommended for beginners.
Bikram is similar to Ashtanga, as it is aerobic and focuses on building strength more than Hatha does. It is usually practiced in a warm room, often up to 105 degrees. Classes may also be called Hot Yoga, and may deviate from classic Bikram in small ways. Again, this style of Yoga is not for beginners. In addition to the aerobic workout, the heated room is not for those starting down the road to fitness. Think about it – if you were going to take up running, you would not want to start out on a 105-degree day.
As you can see, just these three common types of Yoga have different styles and emphasis. What all styles of Yoga have in common is the goal to make the body – and the mind – all they can be. With practice, you will also feel a greater connection between your body and mind. That’s what “Yoga” means; it’s translated from the Sanskrit “Yoke,” symbolizing bringing the mind and body together. As with any fitness program, consult your doctor and discuss any conditions you have, as well as your fitness goals. Then come join us!
References and Resources