Namaste: Different Types of Yoga

Learn how to tell your anusara from your ashtanga with this yoga guide.

Mind, body and spirit come together with the practice of yoga. From the studio to your own home, yoga can become a central part of your fitness regimen, improving flexibility and strength while diminishing stress levels.

Yoga devotees practice a variety of different yoga forms, each with its own set of rigors and health benefits. Use this guide to find the class that’s right for you:

Hatha

Hatha is ideal for beginners. This modern, most basic form of yoga refers to any class that teaches general physical postures. Hatha is great for practitioners of all skill levels and helps develop long, lean muscles.

What You Need To Get Started:  Mat, towel, water bottle and comfortable clothes.

Bikram

Bikram takes place in a heated room during sauna-like conditions. The temperature is generally at 100-105 degrees Fahrenheit and 40 percent humidity. Bikram practitioners claim this strengthens, detoxifies and even heals aches and pains. This practice might not be best suited for beginners: Instructors are trained to talk you through asanas (or yoga positions), rather than demonstrate them.

What You Need To Get Started: Lightweight, form-fitting clothing that wicks moisture. A water bottle, mat and towel.

Ashtanga

Ashtanga follows a series of poses that link rapid movement to breath. Inspired by centuries-old yoga teachings, this practice became popular in the US during the mid-1970s.

What You Need To Get Started: Towel and water bottle.

Vinyasa

Vinyasa translates as “flow” in Sanskrit. This form of yoga emphasizes fluid movement and smooth transitions between poses. Each Vinyasa class features a series of unique movements and postures—so it’s a great option for those looking to shake things up. Keep in mind, this practice is intensive and athletic.

What You Need To Get Started:  Clothing that does not inhibit movement. Yoga mat, towel and water bottle.

Iyengar

Iyengar is rooted in the broad practice of Hatha. Iyengar emphasizes alignment and precision within the poses, and sometimes props are used to attain proper form. Iyengar is ideal for beginners and experienced yogis alike.

What You Need To Get Started:  A yoga mat, towel and water bottle. Studios typically provide necessary props, but you might choose to get your own after you become more experienced.

Sivananda

Sivananda is based on 12 core asanas, or poses. Expect to focus on deep relaxation breathing and positive thinking. This intensive practice emphasizes holistic health and restoring the body to a state of wellness.

What You Need To Get Started: A yoga mat, towel and water bottle.

Anusara

Anusara is great for those just beginning their yoga practice. In this relaxed practice, students are encouraged to express themselves through their poses. You may be asked to partner with your classmates during your practice.

What You Need To Get Started: A yoga mat, towel, water bottle and comfortable clothing.

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