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Yoga Style Guide
Table of Contents:
People who consider beginning yoga, often find it very confusing to know where to start. There are so many different styles of yoga that all seem to have only one thing in common: a tongue-breaking, impossible-to-pronounce name.
When just choosing a practice can be so intimidating, no wonder that many people never make it to square one. Well, take heart. Most types of yoga are essentially based on the same basic yoga postures (called yoga asanas). The different styles of yoga mainly differ in how those yoga poses are being taught and practiced.
While there are many different yoga styles, they do fall into certain general categories. Some yoga styles emphasize alignment and precision, some flow and breath, yet others focus on relaxation and comfort. If you are a beginner to yoga, here is an overview of some of the most common types of yoga practices and the specific yoga styles within each.
Classical Hatha Yoga
Most yoga styles fall into the general category of Hatha Yoga. Hatha Yoga is a system of yoga which dates back to Yogi Swatmarama, who lived in the 15th century in India. The aim of Hatha Yoga is to create greater balance between body and mind, to free the flow of the life force in the body, and ultimately, to prepare body and mind for more subtle spiritual experiences of meditation. A Hatha yoga practice includes yoga asanas, yoga postures designed to improve health and remove imbalances, and Pranayama, traditional breathing exercises to help bring greater peace to the mind and the subtle body.
The following types of yoga are forms of Classical Hatha Yoga.
Iyengar Yoga Kripalu Yoga Anusara Yoga Bikram Yoga
Vinyasa-Vigorous Flow Practices
The word "Vinyasa" is frequently defined to mean "breath-synchronized movement." Vinyasa Yoga, not surprisingly, pairs a flowing series of poses with paced breathing. Due to the continuous flow of movement and regulated breath, Vinyasa Yoga offers more of a cardio work-out than it's Hatha cousins. There are many Vinyasas out there, but the two most common forms are:
Ashtanga Yoga Power Yoga
Restorative yoga postures set up the body in a comfortable, relaxed pose (often supported by a multitude of props, ranging from blankets to blocks) that one can simply sink into and enjoy. No strenuous muscular exertion, no required rhythmic breathing; just simply relaxing peacefully into a soothing yoga posture.
Restorative postures are said to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), lowering blood pressure and heart rate, while stimulating the endocrine and immune systems. Most types of yoga include restorative practices, but some types of yoga, like Svaroopa Yoga focus exclusively on restorative yoga postures.