How To Choose The Right Type Of Yoga
As an avid gym-goer, I discarded yoga as a viable workout option. I used to think it’s too gentle, too slow for my energy. I believed I needed a more vigorous and physically demanding exercise. As a matter of fact, I was convinced that I couldn’t possibly make any progress with that type of training. Little did I know that yoga requires exceptional stamina, incredible skill, and focus.
But, the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic closed gyms, introduced lockdowns, and limited the scope of available workout options. I will not say that an opportunity for me to try yoga presented itself. It was more of a necessity. Having no gym equipment at home other than a yoga mat and with a friend yogi who organized Zoom lessons, I decided to try to do yoga at home. To my surprise, the very first session ended with me feeling fantastic. Moreover, I felt muscles I never knew existed working. Most interestingly, I felt energized and couldn’t wait to do more. So, I researched various types of yoga, attempting to find the most suitable variation for me.
Hopefully, this article will help you choose the right type of yoga for you. There are literally hundreds of variations and hybrids out there. So, start by answering some fundamental questions.
Why do you want to practice yoga?
Depending on your reasons for practicing yoga, you will narrow down your options. Begin by figuring out if the thing that attracts you to yoga is its therapeutic benefits or it’s the more sweat-inducing workout that you seek. Do you need help dealing with anxiety or you want to achieve more physical strength? Also, consider if you want a spiritual experience or you need to battle back pain.
What are your personal needs?
Wherever you are in the world, Dubai or New York, one thing never changes when deciding on your choices – your personal needs and preferences are essential to consider. Do you think you will benefit more from a group activity or a more personalized approach is to your liking? Do you need someone to push you? Would you prefer to hire a private yoga instructor? Whatever your preferences, there are various options available. Just make sure you are aware of your physical and financial capabilities, as well as time limitations.
Explore different yoga styles
The truth of the matter is that you may not know what you want and like before trying some of the styles. Here are some of the yoga variations you should consider to help you out in your search.
A suitable option both for beginners and advanced practitioners, hatha yoga focuses on various positions (asanas), breathing techniques (pranayama), and meditation (dhyana). It is slower-paced, and after the class, you will feel looser, longer, and your body, mind, and spirit will be more in tune.
Vinyasa, aka flow yoga
Similar to Hatha, but with fluid transitions between poses, vinyasa yoga requires great breathing technique. Breathing is vital as it follows the pose shifts and is in tune with the movement. It is a more dynamic style, so if you prefer to sweat a bit more, this is the right type of yoga for you.
Unlike any other yoga style you typically see, Kundalini yoga is spiritual and involves a lot of chanting and meditation. Despite what it may look like, these classes are physically very demanding. Therefore, it’s better suited for more experienced yogis or people with a higher strength level gained from other fitness types. It is a perfect option for those looking for more spiritual depth.
Restorative yoga is fantastic for beginners. It’s excellent if you need help accessing a meditative state. Also, if you suffer from pain or have sustained some injuries, this is the right option for you. Restorative yoga is also great for stress release without much sweating, if any. What makes it interesting that it uses various props like blocks, straps, bolsters, blankets, and sandbags.
Another yoga variation beginners should steer clear of. It’s an athletic and very sweaty practice that takes place in a very hot room (heated to 90 or 95 degrees). It involves a lot of fluid movement, like vinyasa, combined with strengthening standing positions. If you are a competitive type, enjoy pushing yourself, and already possess a high level of athleticism, this is a safe bet for you.
Yin yoga aims to strengthen and lengthen your connective tissues by stretching. As a result, strength and flexibility are improved, as is joint mobility, your posture becomes better. Here, you hold poses for 3-5 minutes, and the positions work with energy meridians in your body. Yin yoga meditative and slow-paced, so physically speaking, it’s beginner-friendly. Mentally, it may be challenging to sit still for so long if you’re not used to it.
Hot yoga is essentially vinyasa but done in a room heated from 95 to 104 degrees. The heat makes the class more intense and allows your muscles to loosen and stretch more. It also fosters detoxification. If this sounds interesting, but you are a beginner, perhaps start with vinyasa.
Another style performed in a heated room (104 degrees), Bikram, involves 26 specific, more Hatha style postures. The heat makes it incredibly challenging, so beginners are advised to start with an unheated yoga variation.
Often referred to as AntiGravity yoga, aerial yoga, as the name suggests, is performed suspended in the air. By the use of silks hanging from the ceiling, you can deepen your poses or perform positions you wouldn’t be able to on a mat. If you are lucky to find a studio that offers a class for beginners in this type of yoga, it may be an exciting experience. Otherwise, stick to the grounded versions.
You will know when you find the right type of yoga
When you try different classes during your quest for the right type of yoga for you, pay attention to several things. Firstly, notice how you feel during and after class. Also, the pace and level of difficulty should be challenging but not overly demanding. After the practice, you should feel more relaxed and calmer, not stressed or disconnected from yourself. During the session, try to notice emotional shifts. Try to recognize the times when you checked out or lost interest. Finally, if you want to go back to the class, it’s safe to say you have found the right one. At least for now.
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