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Finding Your Yoga Fit

Which type of yoga is right for you? Here’s a breakdown of nine popular types.

When you think of yoga, you probably think of poses, postures, deep breathing, and relaxation. An ancient practice that combines physical and mental exercises, yoga is effective at strengthening your muscles and calming your mind. What you may not realize is that there are a variety of different types of yoga, each with their own method. Some are more physically demanding, while others focus more on relaxation and meditation. The type of yoga you choose will depend on your health and fitness goals.

Wondering about your yoga options? Look below for a brief description of nine popular styles to try out.

1. Hatha

A class that’s just called “yoga” is likely hatha yoga. This general type of yoga is great for beginners. Hatha is gentle and slow moving, yet still physically and mentally challenging. Classes start with a warm-up and deep-breathing exercises, then move into a series of poses that work to increase strength, build flexibility, and improve balance. The class usually ends with a time of meditation.

2. Vinyasa

Vinyasa is a popular type of athletic yoga that is available at most gyms and studios. The term “vinyasa” refers to connecting breath with movement. As you move through the postures, you coordinate your breathing. Many people memorize the sequence of Vinyasa movements so they look like a dance routine. Music is often playing in the background and the lights are kept low.

3. Bikram

A Bikram yoga class is a type of hot yoga that’s done in a 105-degree fahrenheit room with 40-percent humidity. The 90-minute class sequences through two rounds of 26 yoga postures and two breathing exercises. There’s a large mirror for participants to check their form and alignment.

4. Ashtanga

Meaning “eight limbs,” Ashtanga yoga closely resembles traditional Indian yoga. Similar to Vinyasa yoga, Ashtanga takes participants through a challenging series of postures while synchronizing their breathing. The postures are the same every time and are often done in silence.

5. Power

Power yoga takes Hatha yoga to the next level. There’s upbeat music and either Ashtanga or Vinyasa poses are used at a faster-than-normal pace. The instructor will often add upper body or core exercises to the class.

6. Yin

Those who are looking for a slower-paced style of yoga that can be performed while sitting down should try Yin yoga. With the use of props such as blocks, blankets, straps, and bolsters, you hold poses for up to two minutes so your muscles can relax. These classes put a lot of focus on meditation.

7. Jivamukti

Translated “liberated being,” Jivamukti yoga has a theme or lesson to each class, usually associated with Hindu spiritual teachings. Chanting, a series of movements, and controlled breathing are all used in a vinyasa-flow style of yoga.

8. Iyengar

Similar to Ashtanga yoga and the traditional Indian style of yoga, Iyengar yoga is done slowly with controlled breathing so participants can learn precise postures and go deeper into the postures. Props are used to help encourage proper form and reach alignment. Iyengar yoga is often recommended for people with injuries or who need to move slowly.

9. Kundalini

A combination of both spiritual and physical aspects of yoga, Kundalini yoga focuses on releasing a kundalini energy that’s supposedly trapped in your lower spine. The classes are fast- paced and often include chants in addition to meditation, breathing, and postures.