Don’t be afraid to try out a few different Yoga styles. Drop in fees are very reasonable and if you really like a particular practice, you’ll be more motivated to continue with it.
Loving It = Doing It.
Hatha is a very general term and it can include a wide variety of the physical types of yoga. If you see a class advertised as ‘Hatha style,’ it is likely to be slow paced and gentle. This is a great type for beginners to learn some of the basic postures and can offer an excellent introduction to the main principles of yoga.
Iyengar focuses on proper body alignment and precision movements. It emphasizes holding poses for a longer time but with a focus on holding those postures more precisely. (This is different to yoga styles where there is more emphasis on flowing from posture to posture.)
Iyengar is also defined by its use of props such as blocks, straps and yoga blankets, as well as actual modification of the poses. This modification and use of props makes this style especially appropriate for people who have injuries, neck or back pain.
By focusing on the precise and proper alignment of the body, you will use straps and blocks until your flexibility develops or to compensate for previous injuries. Iyengar’s attention to detail helps your body be positioned in a way that will allow you to receive maximum benefit from each pose and prevent injury.
Ashtanga Yoga or Power Yoga
Ashtanga means ‘eight limbs’ in Sanskrit and is a fast-paced and intense style of yoga. In yoga terms, it’s a practice that has high ‘flow,’ meaning that it moves from posture to posture quickly. Its focus is on continuing to develop your strength and stamina.
If you have recovered from a back injury or are looking for more strenuous exercise (that is still not jarring), Ashtanga is appropriate for you. If you are already athletic and want to increase your flexibility, balance and endurance, these exercises will not disappoint you.
Bikram or Hot Yoga
Bikram yoga is often referred to as ‘hot yoga’ because it is done in a very warm room, usually 95 – 100 degrees in temperature. The Bikram method is a series of 26 poses but not all ‘hot classes’ will follow this set.
Hot yoga causes profuse sweating and thus promotes detoxification and cleansing. The warm temperature also loosens tight muscles and allows tissues to stretch. This can rapidly improve flexibility.
Note: Bikram yoga is not appropriate for people with cardiovascular disease or heart problems in general, nor for people with MS who can be very sensitive to heat. For these people, the strain on the body from excercising in such a hot environment will cause more problems than benefits.
Kundalini yoga focuses on breath control in conjunction with physical movements. The purpose of this is for freeing energy in the lower body and allowing it to move upwards. This type of yoga is ‘high flow’ and uses a series of rapid, repetitive movements rather than holding the poses for a longer period of time.
All yoga types incorporate breath control with the asanas, but Kundalini yoga focuses directly on how the breath affects each posture. The instructor will often lead the class in some call and response chanting.
Before taking a Yoga class, it is advisable to speak with the instructor to find out his or her emphasis and philosophy to see if it aligns with you and your goals. Just the same as choosing any health practitioner, find one that inspires you and in whom you can wholly trust.
Yoga can become a very rewarding and life-long practice. Its benefits are far-reaching and can help you maintain your exuberance and vitality well into old age. Due to the fact that there are many modified styles of yoga, it can fit beautifully into almost anyone’s anti-aging plan.
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