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The Differences Between Yoga Styles

June 9, 2016 by HealthyFamiliesBC

Different types of yoga

Truth be told, yoga is a physical activity I didn’t know much about. So, I decided to try a drop-in class. I was surprised to see how many types there are! Not knowing which kind of yoga was right for me I did some research.

Type yoga in your web browser and you’ll find a myriad of styles. To help you narrow it down, here’s a summary four different kinds I discovered.

1. Gentle Yoga

Sometimes called Hatha, this type can be seen as your “standard” yoga. The pace is slower, there’s a pause between poses, there are breathing exercises, and, in some classes, meditation at the end. This is a great style for beginners.

2. Active Yoga

Vinyasa or flow yoga is where you flow from pose to pose in continuous motions, with inhalation (breathing in) and exhalation (breathing out) as key parts of the movements. The order of the poses can vary. Most of the time there is background music.

Ashtanga yoga (also called power yoga) is a bit different. While it also flows from pose to pose, it is done in a set order of poses. Both Vinyasa and Ashtanga are more demanding and usually for those more advanced.

3. Hot Yoga

The most common type of hot yoga is Bikram Yoga. It’s done in a heated studio to replicate the heat experienced in India. Bikram Yoga consists of a series of 26 poses which are led by a Bikram certified instructor.

There are other styles of hot yoga with variations in temperature, poses, and pace. Hot yoga is not for everyone; consult with talk to your doctor or an exercise physiologist before starting and be aware of heat illness.

4. Specialty Yoga

There are a lot of types of yoga specially developed to suit different life phases, abilities and interests.

  • Prenatal: For women who are pregnant. With minor modifications, soon to be moms can enjoy yoga
  • Acrobatic: Uses slings and straps with some poses suspended in mid-air. This allows for a unique perspective on yoga.
  • Chair Yoga: For those who may have difficulty getting on and off the floor. Yoga is very adaptable to suit all needs.
  • Male-specific: Classes just for men. Fear not there are other “dudes” who can’t touch their toes either out there but who can enjoy yoga as a collective.
  • Paddle board yoga: Yup, you read that right! This is yoga done on a stand-up paddle board. Before you try it, learn how to get started stand-up paddle boarding.

All of these styles have great health benefits. Yoga in any form can decrease stress, improve self-awareness, as well as increase balance and strength.

Most yoga is safe for everyone. That said, some people with health conditions should speak with their instructor about how to modify certain poses or avoid certain styles. If you are unsure or hesitant, talk to your doctor or an exercise physiologist.

I ended up trying a Hatha yoga class. The instructors were really supportive and helped me get into the proper poses. What kind of yoga have you tried?

Related blogs

How Yoga Can Help With Headaches
Be Active With Tai Chi

Recommended resources

HealthLinkBC: Yoga
American College of Sports Medicine: Selecting and Effectively Using a Yoga Program



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