Modern yoga has evolved with a focus on exercise, strength, flexibility, and breathing. It can help boost physical and mental well-being.
There are many styles of yoga, and no style is more authentic or superior to another. The key is to choose a class appropriate for your fitness level.
Types and styles of yoga may include:
Ashtanga yoga: This type of yoga uses ancient yoga teachings. However, it became popular during the 1970s. Ashtanga applies six established sequences of postures that rapidly link every movement to breath.
Bikram yoga: Also known as "hot" yoga, Bikram occurs in artificially heated rooms at temperatures of nearly 105 degrees and 40 percent humidity. It consists of 26 poses and a sequence of two breathing exercises.
Hatha yoga: This is a generic term for any type of yoga that teaches physical postures. "Hatha" classes usually serve as a gentle introduction to the basic yoga postures.
Iyengar yoga: This type focuses on finding the correct alignment in each pose using a range of props, such as blocks, blankets, straps, chairs, and bolsters.
Jivamukti yoga: Jivamukti means "liberation while living." This type emerged in 1984 and incorporates spiritual teachings and practices that focus on the fast-paced flow between poses rather than the poses themselves.
This focus is called vinyasa. Each class has a theme, which is explored through yoga scripture, chanting, meditation, asana, pranayama, and music. Jivamukti yoga can be physically intense.
Kripalu yoga: This type teaches practitioners to know, accept, and learn from the body. A student of Kripalu learns to find their own level of practice by looking inward. The classes usually begin with breathing exercises and gentle stretches, followed by a series of individual poses and final relaxation.
Kundalini yoga: Kundalini means "coiled, like a snake." Kundalini yoga is a system of meditation that aims to release pent-up energy.
A class typically begins with chanting and ends with singing. In between, it features asana, pranayama, and meditation customized to create a specific outcome.
Power yoga: In the late 1980s, practitioners developed this active and athletic type of yoga, based on the traditional ashtanga system.
Sivananda: This is a system based on a five-point philosophy. This philosophy maintains that proper breathing, relaxation, diet, exercise, and positive thinking work together to form a healthy yogic lifestyle. Typically uses the same 12 basic asanas, bookended by sun salutations and savasana poses.
Viniyoga: Viniyoga can adapt to any person, regardless of physical ability. Viniyoga teachers require in-depth training and tend to be experts on anatomy and yoga therapy.
Yin: This is a quiet, meditative yoga practice, also called taoist yoga. Yin yoga allows the release of tension in key joints, including:
the ankles, knees, hips the whole back, neck, shoulders. Yin poses are passive, meaning that gravity shoulders most of the force and effort.
Prenatal yoga: Prenatal yoga uses postures that practitioners have designed for people who are pregnant. It can support people in getting back into shape after pregnancy as well as supporting health iduring pregnancy.
Restorative yoga: This is a relaxing method of yoga. A person spends a restorative yoga class in four or five simple poses, using props like blankets and bolsters to sink into deep relaxation without exerting any effort in holding the pose.