Five styles you are likely to encounter as a yoga newbie

By Ea Francisco | Photos by Matthew Henry

If you’re new to yoga, you’d probably be surprised to find out that there are a lot of different types. You might want to experiment at random, but it’s important to find a style that fits you. Going at it without considering what you’re doing can lead to an unsuccessful and discouraging experience. Here are the five most popular types of yoga to begin with.

Hatha

For beginners, this type is best because it teaches the more basic and easier poses. It’s slow and gentle that’s all about holding your pose for short breaths. It’s primarily for relaxation, meditation, and stress relief. Hatha is actually a general term that refers to any physical posture, so technically all forms of yoga fall under this.

Vinyasa

This style is more dynamic, and it links the breath with movement to create flowing postures. Unlike Hatha, you don’t hold your poses for too long, but you smoothly transition from one pose to the next. Vinyasa classes are all varying, and sequences are rarely ever the same per session. It can improve strength and flexibility as well as raise your heart rate. If you’re into HIIT or intense exercises, Vinyasa is ideal because of its fast pace and continuous movement. It’s a good alternative workout for runners and endurance athletes.

Ashtanga

Popularized by Pattabhi Jois, Ashtanga is a more modern yoga that is also called “power yoga.” Similar to Vinyasa, it’s all about movement, but this style makes you perform a set of six poses in the same order. This style is intense and physically demanding because it requires practice to perfect the poses before you can advance. If you’re looking for a core building and body toning yoga, this style is best. Also, it’s a style that attracts competitive and driven individuals since you can advance to a more difficult set of poses in time.

Iyengar

This yoga is meticulous about detail and focuses on body alignment. You’ll likely be using a lot of props like blocks, blankets, and straps to assist you. In this style, you won’t be doing a lot of movement, but you’ll be holding poses for a longer period. Its purpose is more on strength, balance, and recovery. For those prone to or are recovering from injury, Iyengar is best because its teachers are trained in biomechanics and anatomy, so they can adjust and accommodate to your physical needs.

Bikram

This type of yoga is where you will sweat a lot. Also called “hot yoga,” Bikram literally puts you in a heated room of 105 degrees Fahrenheit with 40 percent humidity. The sauna-like room is made to flush out toxins in your body. This is one of the most consistent yoga styles that practices a series of 26 copyrighted poses and two breathing exercises in a 90-minute sequence. The founder, Bikram Choudhury, believed that these specific poses challenged the entire body, even the organs, veins, and ligaments. This yoga can be done by amateurs as the heat lets you stretch deeply, but the heat can also make it feel more intense.

It’s important to know your own physical capabilities and to know what you want to get out of yoga. While the general idea is to have mental and spiritual health, taking on a style that doesn’t suit you might not give you the desired effect.