From top corporate executives to famous celebrities like Jennifer Lopez, Ricky Martin and Eva Longoria, yoga has become the workout regime of choice for tons of people. If you want to become one of them you need to be aware that not all types of yoga are created equal. There are different types and depending on what you want to get out of your yoga practice, you can pick the one that works best for you.
Here are four different types of yoga that are definitely among the most popular ones in ashrams, gyms and fitness centers around the globe.
Hatha Yoga - A Good Start
"Hatha" is the term that you will hear a lot when see or read things about and around yoga. Newcomers usually get the impression that Hatha is a specific type of yoga, like Ashtanga or Iyengar. But that's actually not true. "Hatha" actually describes all the physical practices of yoga. It is a very general term which can almost be used interchangeably with "yoga". When you do Ashtanga yoga, you do Hatha. When you do Iyengar yoga, you do Hatha.
So What Do I Get in Hatha? When you see a Hatha class on your gym's schedule, you can most likely expect a slow-paced yoga class with stretches and breathing exercises. The goal of these classes is for you to be able to learn to do and maintain poses and concentrate on your breathing. Even though the movements are slow, they are a great way to work out and relieve stress.
Kundalini Yoga - Spiritual and Rapid
Kundalini is a very old form of yoga, and has only been practiced in the West relatively recently. This type of yoga is focused on a combination of poses and breathing. The poses are performed together with certain breathing techniques, which intensify your workout. The sequences in Kundalini yoga (called kriyas) are done rapidly and repetitively. You may also be holding different poses while consciously breathing in a certain way. If you have tried out a regular yoga class and want to raise the intensity, you might consider trying out Kundalini. Overall, Kundalini yoga is a spiritual and mental activity as much as it is a physical one.
Ashtanga Yoga - Structured and Challenging
For the more athletic and advanced, Ashtanga yoga is a good choice. This type of yoga can be considered more challenging and well-structured. Ashtanga is made of of six different sequences, which students can go through at their own pace and independently. Each sequence has different characteristics and focuses on a different aspect of your body. To give an example: The first sequence, called Yoga Chikitsa, focuses on detoxification, strength, flexibility and stamina. It consists of 75 poses and takes between 1.5 to 2 hours to complete. There are yoga studios that offer led classes, where the instructor guides you through all the poses (usually in the primary or secondary series). However, once you get the drift you'll be able to go on by yourself and practice without instructions, which feels great and can be VERY rewarding.
Hot and Bikram Yoga - Intense and Sweaty
Hot yoga is done in a room that is heated to 95-100 degrees Fahrenheit (~40 degrees Celsius) with a humidity level of 40%. It is usually performed in a flowing (vinyasa) style, which means that poses are smooth and linked to each other. The heat is believed to loosen the muscles, thus promoting greater flexibility. Hot yoga is all about sweating and makes your body very, very warm, which may also stimulate fat burning rates.
So what is Bikram yoga? Not all hot yoga is Bikram yoga but all Bikram is hot. Bikram yoga is a sub-type of hot yoga, that was invented and marketed by a yogi called Bikram Choudhury. It entails 26 postures that are done in a hot yoga room.
These are just a few of the different types of yoga you can check out. It is definitely worth exploring the world of yoga a little more in order to find out what type best suits your wants and needs. It's not only about spiritual and physical, but also about speed, intensity, structure and so much more!