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The Types of Yoga: Which Style Is Best for You?

From gentle to challenging yoga styles, learn what type may best fits personal goals and preferences.

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Yoga has a long history, though it continues to be practiced in modern day. What's more, the benefits of yoga are invaluable and supportive of both physical and mental health.

But the art of yoga is much more than a collective group of flowing movements. There are different styles considered to be gentler or challenging than others.

With so many types of yoga, how do you know which style is best for you? Learn more about the various forms and how to choose!

The Different Types of Yoga

From gentle to challenging yoga types, learn what type may best fits personal goals and preferences.

Gentle Yoga

Gentle yoga is great for beginners. It is also useful for yoga-goers desiring a light stretch and relaxation. The gentleness of this type of yoga also encourages one to sync with their body and mind.

Gentle yoga includes Hatha, Kundalini, and Sivananda styles.

Hatha

Hatha yoga is essentially the basic fundamentals of yoga - including the attentions on breath, meditation and postures. Though it is a generally broad category, Hatha tends to be gentle and slow.

So if just starting out, this yoga style may be the most beneficial to gain insight of common terms and movements.

Kundalini

With Kundalini, there is lesser physical demand with a deeper spiritual development. The yoga style incorporates movement, dynamic breathing techniques, mediation, and the chanting and singing of mantras.

Kundalini may be right for you if seeking out a livelier yoga practice.

Iyengar

Iyengar offers both equal parts of body strengthening movements and peace of mind. It primarily focuses attention to details including the alignment of body postures and precision.

Poses are held for longer periods of time in Iyengar yoga. Props are also used, including belts and blocks, to further accommodate and teach a proper posture.

Iyengar may be a good practice for yogis interested in strengthening alignment in a slower-paced environment.

Sivananda

Coined after the original presenter by Swami Sivananda, this style of yoga is more of a holistic approach. It focuses on the entire body, while concentrating more on relaxation and breathing.

Sivananda also encourages a vegetarian diet and positive thinking. So if desiring a complete yogic lifestyle, Sivananda may be the perfect fit!

Dru

Dru Yoga is "a graceful and potent form of yoga, based on flowing movements, directed breathing and visualisation." It is also promoted for all fitness levels and age groups.

Though it continues to promote body flexibility and strengthening, it further deepens connections to whole-body health and happiness.

Challenging Yoga

Challenging yoga are essentially intermediate and more advanced poses. Such postures and movements help yogis overcome physical and mental barriers. They also are beneficial for strengthening both the mind and body.

Bikram and Ashtanga are two common types of challenging yoga.

Bikram

Also known as hot yoga, Bikram yoga is a series of yoga poses and techniques in a heated environment. Though beginner courses are available, the heat may not be enjoyable to all individuals.

For this reason, Bikram yoga is encouraged at the yogi's own discretion.

Ashtanga

Ashtanga is a more structured form of yoga and promoted to build core strength and tone the body. It extends on standard yoga poses and is recommended to those who wanting to be challenged.

The yoga postures and movements of Ashtanga do require more coordination and strength than other yoga types. However, practitioners of Ashtanga can also move at their own pace given their experience level.

Truly, Ashtanga yoga includes more vigorous abilities. Since this style of yoga is physically demanding, be prepared to sweat!

Final Thoughts When Selecting a Yoga Style

When deciding on which yoga is right for you, try identifying the desire for its undertaking. If wanting a physical challenge, Ashtanga may be a better fit rather than a slower-paced Iyengar-style.

But do not be afraid to explore all yoga variations, either. This list is concise and there are other styles worth exploring. Besides, you never know until you try!

For more information on a yogi lifestyle or types, Yoga Journal is an excellent resource!

Written By Sydney Lappe, MS, RDN. Published on September 03, 2016. Updated on May 08, 2019.

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