Regular exercise is a hugely important part of leading a healthy life overall. Not everyone though is a huge fan of the gym (which is why they don't go) and many people find the idea of jogging around the neighborhood every day pretty boring (not to mention quite tough on the knees for some.) And the fact is that many of us are just too busy to find the time to work out regularly.
Yoga is an alternative that many people consider turning to help them get and stay healthier. This is indeed a great idea, as yoga offers a wide range of physical and mental benefits. Getting started though can be intimidating for a new would be yogi, as they quickly discover that there are a number of different kinds of yoga to choose from.
This is where confusion can set in. What are the differences between the various yoga styles on offer? Which style would best benefit you and your current state of fitness and general health? Which would you enjoy the most? Making the choice can be a little stressful, the exact opposite of what yoga is supposed to be.
If you have been considering taking up yoga but aren't sure which class you should sign up for here's a basic guide to help you decide:
Hatha is the yoga style that most people think of when they have yet to experience it. It's all about slow deliberate movement, breathing control and mastery of common physical yoga poses. It is gentle and suited to those who have health issues that put more demanding physical activities a little out of reach or are completely new to yoga and simply want to get a 'taste' of it.
Vinyasa has become the most popular style of yoga practiced in the United States. On gym and studio posters you'll often see it advertised as power yoga instead, because it is based on continual movement and maintaining a flow from one pose to another. It is more physically demanding than some other yoga styles but because it is also less repetitive if you tend to lose interest easily and are up for a tougher workout it may be the perfect yoga discipline for you.
What sets Bikram apart from other yoga styles is that it is very much about repetition and routine. Each class should be held in a space that is heated to 105 degrees – thus the term 'hot yoga' that is often used to describe it – and it runs through the same 26 poses two or three times per session.
This form of yoga is particularly suited to those recovering from injury or suffering from structural imbalance as it makes use of props to help practitioners achieve the best possible accuracy when striking poses.
This is another slow-paced style that is perfect for those who have been 'slowed down' by illness or injury or who are looking for a yoga style that focuses on mental well-being as much as it does on the physical.
One of the great things about many yoga studios is that they often offer all five styles of yoga so that new yogis can 'mix and match' to design their own yoga experience until they find the classes that are best suited to them.