Choose the Yoga That's Right for You

Clinical Psychologist, Goali Saedi, PhD, joined us today to explain the different types of yoga classes and their benefits.

Yoga historically was a means to meditation.  These postures were created to help individuals sit in meditation for a long period of time.  Over time however, the popularity of this practice has risen dramatically as well as reasons for practicing it.  Today, we are also seeing yoga practices provide a host of cognitive, physiological, and psychological benefits.

Types of yoga/ideal for the following:

Vinyasa-one of the most popular forms of yoga- often branded as "power yoga" or "core yoga"- more fast paced, flow, and highest calorie burning.  Often may feature pilates types of moves.  Traditionally, it involves the idea of building heat, and release of toxins and cleansing as a result.

Hatha- means sun and moon.  Gentle and basic yoga classes typically are Hatha.  They may involve a few poses held for a few breaths.  There is some overlap between Hatha and Vinyasa.  But Hatha is more stationary and can help in strength building.  Whereas in a Vinyasa class you man do many sun salutations, in Hatha, you will be holding warrior poses for a period of time and coordinating with breath.

Yin/Restorative-the most calming/therapeutic form of yoga.  Poses may be held for 5-7 minutes, and a class may not feature more than 4-5 poses for the entire class.  This is ideal for all body types and abilities and is great for stress management.  Expect little to no sweating, minimal movement, but more meditation and rejuvenation.

Bikram/hot yoga-increasingly popular- no evidence to show it is more effective or "better" than any other form of yoga.  Some argue the heat of the room allows the muscles to relax and stretch more easily, while others argue this leads to injury.  If you like to sweat, this is right up your alley.  However, some get light-headed and nauseated in these classes.  Hot yoga is often 90 degrees or so, while traditional Bikram is in rooms of about 100 degrees.  Check with the studio as these numbers can vary.

Iyengar yoga- heavy usage of props, and special attention to alignment- can be useful for those recovering from injuries.

Acrobatic yoga can involve use of partners to get in all sorts of interesting advanced poses. 

Aerial yoga is done in hammocks suspended a few feet above the air. 

Partner yoga can be done in any form of class (vinyasa and hatha) and can encourage individuals to work as a team.

Click here for a chart to learn more about the different types of yoga.

Overall, it's very important to not push yourself too far too quickly.  Letting instructors know of injury helps.  And of course, never be shy about using props or blankets.  It's one thing to get into the poses, and another to do them safely.

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