Yoga is one of our favourite ways here at ALT/HQ to clear the mind, one the body and be at peace. With lots of New Year resolutions to include more yoga into our daily practice, knowing where to start is key! Just like all exercise methods, yoga too has its many styles with varying outcomes and personal + physical gains to be had.
Iyengar Yoga is a variety of Hatha Yoga that focuses on the precision of the asanas and being able to control your breathing. When you practice this kind of yoga you will notice that your coordination, strength and stability improve.
Because of the heavy emphasis on the precise alignment of the poses within this type of yoga, as well as the common use of props, it is the perfect place for beginners to start. However, it is varied enough to also keep more experienced yogis challenged!
This type of yoga varies in complexity, so can range from a four out of ten to a six out of ten in difficulty. This will often depend more on the teacher than it does the actual type of yoga involved!
Ashtanga Yoga comprises of a series of set poses that is generally quite vigorous. It is intended that this type of yoga should be a combination of a physical practice with the synchronisation of the breath.
Ashtanga Yoga is especially beneficial for muscle growth and improving breathing techniques. Additionally, flexibility will quickly improve with regular Ashtanga practice.
This variety of yoga can be quite a challenging and rigorous. This is because you will only move to the next posture once you have mastered the previous one. For this reason, it is generally more suited to those who have already mastered the basics of yoga. That’s why I would give it a seven out of ten difficulty rating!
Power Yoga is more of a physical exercise than a spiritual practice. It draws inspiration from Ashtanga Yoga, but has more of an emphasis on the fitness aspects.
Power Yoga is great for strength training and all-round physical health, and it is true to say that a class of this type should leave you in a sweat! In addition to the fitness benefits of Power Yoga, it can also leave you feeling energised throughout the rest of your day.
This variety of yoga is suitable for everyone with a healthy and able body, and you do not need to have previous experience in any other type of yoga to get started. However, if you are currently injured in any way then it should be avoided! You will exert a lot of energy during a Power Yoga class, which often causes people to label it as a difficult practice. However, once your strength and stamina begin to improve you will soon consider it to be less difficult!
Hatha is a traditional term used to describe any of the physical practices of yoga. On the whole, Hatha Yoga is great for relaxing the mind, releasing tension from the body and improving strength and flexibility. Therefore, you can expect to experience all of these results when you practice regularly.
There are many different types of yoga included under the Hatha label, and all are concerned with using your body in some physical way. There are some that are perfect for beginners and some that are better suited to those who are more experienced. As there are so many different types of Hatha Yoga it is impossible to say how difficult each individual will find a particular class.
Kundalini Yoga combines physical movements with breathing techniques, meditation and chanting in order to awaken the kundalini energy (Shakti), which is located at the base of your spine. When awakened, the energy is said to rise from your root chakra and through the different chakras along your spine, until it reaches the crown chakra on top of your head.
When you practice Kundalini Yoga regularly you will work towards developing a higher consciousness, and improving your physical energy. You will notice that you are better equipped to focus your mind and also to strengthen your willpower and patience.
Anyone can practice Kundalini Yoga. It is not a particularly physically difficult, but it can be challenging spiritually if you have no experience of yoga.
As the name would suggest, Pregnancy Yoga is a style of yoga to be undertaken during pregnancy.
Pregnancy Yoga helps to promote relaxation, as well as improve flexibility and keep the muscles loose. It is specifically designed to support the body through the changes experienced during pregnancy. This type of yoga can also help to relieve the symptoms of common problems experienced during pregnancy, such as lower back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and sleep problems.
Because Pregnancy Yoga is designed to be a gentle and inclusive practice that any pregnant person can participate in, it is totally suitable for absolute beginners and is generally not difficult at all.
Acro Yoga is a combination of yoga, acrobatics and healing. It is practiced in pairs, with one partner lifting and supporting the other as the asanas are held.
Due to the nature of this type of yoga, it is great for strength training and general physical fitness. It is also great for boosting concentration and providing an outlet for stress.
Acro Yoga is accessible to anyone with a healthy body. This kind of yoga offers lots of simple beginner exercises that you can practice with your partner, and there is something for everyone regardless of their skill level. However, the more advanced poses will certainly require more balance and coordination.
It is a great idea to combine Acro Yoga practice with other strength training exercises. A difficulty rating from 1 to 10 can be given to Acro Yoga!
In a Vinyasa Yoga class students will flow from one asana to the next whilst paying close attention their breathing. It is one of the most popular forms of yoga practiced in the West.
Vinyasa means moving into a special place in a special way. The goal is to align breath and movement to reach an active meditative state or Vinyasa Krama.
Vinyasa Yoga has both physical and mental health benefits. The physical aspects of this practice help to energise the body, strengthen the muscles and increase flexibility, whereas mentally it can help to focus the mind and encourage clarity.
Vinyasa Yoga is accessible to all levels as there is something for students at every level of their practice. This also means that difficulty will vary from class to class.
Yin Yoga has a heavy focus on holding seated postures in order to strengthen and improve the muscles in this area. The poses are generally held for between one and ten minutes, and will provide both a physical and an emotional feeling of release.
Reduced tension in the joints, as well as improved flexibility, are noticeable results of practicing Yin Yoga. The relaxing meditative aspects of this kind of yoga can also contribute to an improved overall sense of peace and wellbeing.
Yin Yoga is suitable for everyone, and those who engage in high intensity sports, or those who experience high levels of stress during their day, can find relief for the body and mind through this practice.
The asanas involved with Yin Yoga are themselves not generally considered to be difficult, but the length of time that the poses are held could initially be considered difficult for beginners. However, as you persist with your practice your mind will soon adjust, just as your body will!
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