Yoga has become a very popular fitness trend and yoga classes are growing in number in every nook and corner of urban India. Yoga mats are selling like hot cakes and classes are swamped. Having said that, have you noticed that yoga does not come in one size, so to speak? Theres Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Hatha, Bikram, Iyengar and others. How is one different from the other and how does one choose which variation to sign up for? We shall address these questions below and hope that, by the end of this post, you will know which class to join!
First of all, choosing the right class is crucial because if you get it wrong, you will experience pain and, not to mention, frustration; but get it right, and you will be embarking on an incredible journey to all-round fitness. What exactly are you looking for physical fitness, flexibility, or relaxation? While some seek a physical challenge, there are those who are looking for more of a spiritual experience. So you need to assess your body and mind before you head to the studio.
4 for the Physical challenge lovers:
The most athletic and physically engaging of all modern yoga, Ashtanga yoga follows a set sequence and lays its emphasis on the breath and alignment. A committed Ashtangi will have the body of an athlete and will be envied by many. However, this style is not for those with injuries, especially of the neck, back, shoulders, hips or knees, or for those looking for a calm, peaceful session.
This is a softer, more relaxed version of Ashtanga yoga. There is no set sequence but music and choreography is incorporated to make each class (often in a heated room) more innovative and challenging. Same attention is given to breath and alignment, but no one will mind if you take a water break or if you falter in your attempts. It is a fast flowing style with the same injury limitations as Ashtanga Vinyasa.
The name itself suggests that it is going to be hard. Although it has its roots in Ashtanga Vinyasa, it is not codified so different teachers will have different ways of doing it. The aim in Power Yoga is to build strength and stamina so you will most definitely sweat.
Held in a room heated to 40°C and 44% humidity, this is a definite strong class. It is a strict 90 minute set sequence of 26 asanas and 2 breathing exercises developed by Bikram Choudhury. Bikram Yoga is known to strengthen and tone muscles while also relieving stress.
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Yin Yoga for Improved flexibility:
A slow-paced, meditative practice, with each asana held for 5 minutes or more, Yin Yoga relieves your muscles and aims to lengthen connective tissues like the tendons, fascia, and ligaments to increase circulation in the joints and improve flexibility.
Hatha Yoga for Relief and relaxation:
Hatha Yoga is the umbrella term for all physical yoga but is often used to describe a gentle class, suitable for beginners. Classes of this description will differ depending on the instructor.
Peaceful Meditation of Yoga Nidra:
If you are looking for total relaxation, peace, and quiet, and, in the process, gain a spiritual experience, this is for you.
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Iyengar Yoga Rehabilitation from injury:
K. S. Iyengar is widely credited with popularising yoga in the west. His method places a strong emphasis on placement and alignment. Asanas are held longer than in the flowing styles and there are no sun salutations, making it an accessible and gentle style for beginners and those with injuries.
We have only skimmed the surface in this post, just to make it easier for you to choose your style. Find yoga centres in your area through Gympik.com and train under certified instructors. You can even get an expert yoga instructor come to your place for personal training. Let us know what you think about choosing yoga as your way to fitness in the comment section below.