7 types of yoga | Live Science

The different types of yoga have contributed to its continued popularity for thousands of years. With so many ways to practice this ancient form of exercise, there is something for everyone. We’ve focused on seven types of yoga that are widely available to help you find the one that’s best for you and your lifestyle.

With 5,000 years of history to its credit, yoga combines movement, mindfulness and meditation in various forms. From gentle stretches and meditative breathing techniques to sweating in deliberately hot studios, there is definitely a type of yoga that works for you.

Read on to learn more about the different types of yoga as you explore their origins, style, and benefits for the mind and body.

• Find out more: Is yoga a religion?

7 types of yoga: Hatha yoga

It is important to start here because Hatha yoga is, strictly speaking, an umbrella term which means’discipline of force‘. In other words, any type of yoga that teaches physical postures is technically Hatha. However, in reality when you see a class advertised as “Hatha” it will likely be a softer, slower style using basic poses that are suitable for beginners.

When and where Hatha yoga first appeared is debated, but it aimed to use body mastery to help you achieve spiritual perfection. It is still often defined as including poses or postures (called asanas), breathing work (pranayama), and meditation in various combinations, and like many commercial yoga classes, you will likely have more physical exercise. than a spiritual experience in the classroom.

7 types of yoga: the picture shows a woman doing yoga breathing exercises

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Yoga in general is believed to help improve flexibility, range of motion, and strength, as well as reduce stress. Indeed, in a meta-analysis of studies published in the Journal of Evidence-Based Medicine in 2017, the results showed that Hatha yoga is “a promising method for treating anxiety”. In short, it’s a great choice for those new to yoga.

7 types of yoga: Ashtanga yoga

Ashtanga yoga is an athletic and challenging style of yoga that follows a defined sequence. This type of yoga was taught and popularized in the mid-1900s by Indian yoga guru, K. Pattabhi Jois. It is actually a form of Vinyasa yoga, with “Vinyasa” referring to the fluid movement of connecting one pose to another.

Ashtanga follows the same six series of specific asanas that follow one another, accompanied by synchronized breathing work. It is a physically demanding technique that improves the endurance and flexibility of the body. It also potentially has benefits for mindfulness due to the need to be present while moving through difficult sequences.

A study published in 2016 in the journal Complementary and alternative medicine based on evidence reviewed the benefits of yoga for weight loss and suggested a positive effect for both number of calories burned and participants reporting reduced stress and cravings as well as improved mood and fitness self-esteem, and since Ashtanga is more physically demanding than some other types of yoga, this might be a good thing to try if weight management is important to you.

Ashtanga is often confused with power yoga, which is equally athletic but does not follow a set pattern. Teachers often like to design their own vinyasa flow routines in order to increase the challenge and give advanced students more demanding practice.

7 types of yoga: Bikram yoga

Bikram Yoga was founded by Indian-born American yoga guru Bikram Choudhury who immigrated to America in 1971 and gained worldwide popularity in the 1990s with a number of famous advocates. This type of yoga consists of a series of 26 postures and two breathing exercises performed in a room heated to 104 ℉ (40 ℃) at 40% humidity, to help recreate the Indian climate that Choudhury was experiencing.

7 types of yoga: two women, one younger and one older, raise their arms in a yoga pose

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Hot yoga classes, while probably inspired by Bikram yoga, may not follow Bikram’s defined sequence of poses. The heat is said to help participants increase their flexibility, detoxify themselves through sweating, and exercise their cardiovascular system harder to keep them cool. Indeed, a study published in the International Yoga Review in 2021 reports an improvement in cardiovascular fitness after 12 sessions of Bikram yoga.

Meanwhile, according to a review published in the journal Complementary and alternative medicine based on evidence as of 2015, there is evidence to suggest that Bikram yoga has favorable effects on metabolic markers including blood lipids, insulin resistance and glucose tolerance. In other words, it can help people at risk for conditions like cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes.

One of the studies in the review also showed that the incorporation of physical postures and work of breathing encouraged the mind to be present, producing an increase in mindfulness and a decrease in the stress perceived by the participants at the end of the exercise. study.

7 types of yoga: Iyengar yoga

Founded by BKS Iyengar in India in the 1970s, this type of yoga focuses on precision and alignment of postures. Participants can use a number of props including yoga blocks, bands, blankets, and cushions to help their bodies achieve proper postural alignment.

Although this is a slower style of yoga than Ashtanga or Bikram, it takes immense concentration to achieve the correct alignment of each posture as well as an ability to hold the asanas for longer periods of time. periods.

This style of yoga can benefit those recovering from an injury or who find themselves very inflexible, as the props help achieve desired postures without stretching too much.

According to a research project published in the Journal of Body Weight and Movement Therapies in 2009, flexibility increased in just six weeks when subjects practiced Iyengar yoga once a week. A study published in the journal Spine in 2009 also found that participants who practiced Iyengar yoga during the trial reported a significant reduction in chronic lower back pain. If you’re looking for yoga for back pain or other injuries, this might be a good type to try – although we always recommend consulting a doctor before starting a new exercise program.

7 types of yoga: Kundalini yoga

Thought to date back to around 1000 BC, Kundalini yoga was introduced to the United States by Yogi Bhajan in the 1970s, although its exact origins are unknown. It combines movement, breathing and sound in the form of song or song.

The Kundalini is designed to activate your spiritual energy known as shakti, located at the base of the spine. A typical class begins with an opening song followed by a series of postures with breathing techniques before ending with a meditation or song.

7 types of yoga: the image shows a man doing a yoga pose

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The idea is that through the practice of Kundalini yoga, we can send energy upwards from the base of our spine and upwards of our head, stimulating our chakras (energy centers) along the way. to provide a number of health benefits such as improved mood, greater focus, lower blood pressure, balanced metabolism, and improved strength. Do you have trouble sleeping well? In a study cited by Harvard Medical School, participants got an average of 36 minutes more sleep per night after eight weeks of Kundalini yoga practice.

7 types of yoga: Restorative yoga

This type of yoga could be considered the calmer little sister of Iyengar. Developed by famous American yoga instructor, Judith Hanson (a student of BKS Iyengar), she has adapted her use of props to help and support the body as it calms down and rests.

Each pose can be held for up to 20 minutes, which means very few poses can be performed during a class, but the time spent being guided by a yoga teacher and relaxing in asanas can have profound effects. as participants reach a state of deep relaxation. As a result, restorative yoga can help increase the flexibility and overall suppleness of your muscles.

Stress relief can also be a huge benefit of restorative yoga, as staying in these postures for extended periods of time provides the perfect opportunity to listen to the body’s signals and focus the mind. In a study published in the Occupational Health Journal in 2019, night shift nurses reported that their psychological and physical stress responses were significantly reduced after group restorative yoga sessions.

7 types of yoga: Yin yoga

Originating in the 1970s from American martial arts expert Paulie Zink, Yin yoga is similar to restorative yoga in that it incorporates slow-paced postures and stretches to lengthen muscles and connective tissue to a higher level. deep.

Beginners start by holding these poses for a few minutes while experts can hold them for ten or more. The purpose of the practice is to slow down the body, activate the parasympathetic nervous system, and allow the body to fully relax in asanas in order to release stress and tension both physical and mental.

A study on stressed adults published in the journal PLOS ONE in 2018 found that practicing yin yoga for five weeks helped reduce participants’ sleep problems. So, if getting enough sleep is something you struggle with, consider taking yin and reaping the benefits of bedtime.

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