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5 Common Types of Yoga

Wong Shu Lee  

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  June 18, 2022

The International Day of Yoga has been celebrated annually on 21 June since 2015, following its inception in the United Nations General Assembly in 2014. 

 

Yoga has come a long way in the past few years. Take a look at any studio’s schedule and you’ll see so many different types of yoga, from hatha yoga and yin yoga to vinyasa yoga and ashtanga yoga. 

 

You might have even heard about — or tried — some of the more modern and unusual iterations of the ancient practice: hip-hop yoga, HIIT yoga, and aerial yoga…just to name a few. 

 

Do you know what is yoga? The spirit of yoga is the union between the body, mind, and spirit. The real purpose of practicing yoga is about discovering and connecting with your own body encompasses balance, proper stretching techniques, breathing, meditation, and centering the mind and spirit. 

 

It ignores the “no pain, no gain” philosophy that’s rife in fitness communities. Yoga is not a place to push through, go beyond your edge, or ignore your body. The primary tenet is ahimsa or non-harming, and that starts with choosing the right type of yoga for you. 

 

When you’re trying to determine which of the different types of yoga is best for you, remember that there is no right or wrong one— just one that you think is best for you at this moment. 

 

Vinyasa Yoga

 

Vinyasa yoga is also called “flow yoga” or “vinyasa flow”. It is an incredibly common style. The word “vinyasa” translates to “place in a special way,” which is often interpreted as linking breath and movement. You’ll often see words like slow, dynamic, or mindful paired with vinyasa or flow to indicate the intensity of practice.

 

Vinyasa yoga is suitable for those who’ve never tried yoga as well as those who’ve been practicing for years.

 

Who Might Like It: Anyone who wants more movement and less stillness from their yoga practice.

 

Hatha Yoga

 

Hatha yoga derives its name from the Sanskrit words for sun and moon, and it’s designed to balance opposing forces. The balance in hatha yoga might come from strength and flexibility, physical and mental energy, or breath and the body. 

 

It’s often used as a catch-all term for the physical side of yoga, is more traditional in nature, or is billed as yoga for beginners. Hatha translates to ‘forceful,’ but it relates more to the aspect of concentration and regularity of practice rather than applying unnecessary force to the body. 

 

Who Might Like It: Anyone looking for a balanced practice, or those in search of a gentler type of yoga.

 

Yin Yoga

 

Yin yoga is a slower style of yoga in which poses are held for a minute and eventually up to five minutes or more. It is a type of yoga with roots in martial arts as well as yoga, and it’s designed to increase circulation in the joints and improve flexibility. 

 

The practice focuses on the hips, lower back, and thighs and uses props like bolsters, blankets, and blocks to let gravity do the work, helping to relax. While other forms of yoga focus on the major muscle groups, yin yoga targets the body’s connective tissues.

 

Who Might Like It: Those who need to stretch out after a tough workout, or anyone interested in a slower-paced practice.

 

Prenatal Yoga

 

Yoga can be a wonderful workout for moms-to-be. It often focuses on easing pains associated with pregnancy, such as sore hips or an aching low back. Prenatal yoga provides stress relief, exercise, and self-care in one session, and the breathing exercises can come in handy during labor and delivery.

 

Since this is a practice designed specifically for moms-to-be, it excludes poses that might be too taxing or unsafe for the changing body. Yoga for pregnancy also often includes plenty of exercises to prepare your body for delivery, like squats and pelvic floor work.

 

Who Might Like It: Moms-to-be and new moms who are easing back into exercise.

 

Aerial Yoga

 

Aerial yoga — sometimes called anti-gravity yoga — is relatively new, but quickly catching on. It involves traditional yoga poses with the added support of a strong, silky hammock that hangs from the ceiling. 

 

The hammock is used as a supportive prop in poses like pigeon or downward dog and helps you more easily perform inverted poses (like headstands and handstands) that might be beyond your abilities or comfort levels. It’s also used for a cocoon-like savasana (the final resting pose at the end of a yoga class). 

 

Who Might Like It: Those who want a nontraditional yoga experience, or anyone who wants the benefits of inversions but might fear going upside down on their own.

 

Every style of yoga has its unique benefits, and you might encounter a mix of many types of yoga in the same class. Just be open up to enjoy the benefits of yoga! 

 

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