If you're a beginner at yoga, the many different styles can seem overwhelming. How do you choose? How do you know which type is right for you?
With any style of yoga, you can improve strength, flexibility, and balance. And all yoga styles release tension in your body, quiet your mind, and create a feeling of lightness and ease. But to get the most benefit, stay safe, and find the greatest pleasure, you need to choose a yoga style that suits your current fitness level. To make that choice, also need to consider your temperament and goals for practicing yoga.
For example, if you're an athlete already doing lots of strength training, your best choice is likely to be a yoga style that focuses on flexibility. That way, you can balance your fitness routine. If you're older, have an injury, or live with a chronic medical condition such as arthritis, you may want to try a class in Iyengar yoga or gentle Viniyoga. When you do, you'll get plenty of individual attention that focuses on your unique condition and needs. If you're relatively healthy, love to sweat, and want to lose weight, a Bikram class may be just the right fit for you.
Before you actually make a choice, try a few of the most common styles of yoga. See which one suits you best. Then try a few different teachers within that style of yoga. Teachers all have their own unique focus, emphasis, and personality. You're more likely to keep going to class with a teacher you connect with and feel comfortable with.
Goals for Your Yoga Style
The word yoga can be translated as "union," "yoke," or "balance." By doing yoga, you're creating a union between mind and body. You're also balancing strength and flexibility.
To decide on the yoga style that's right for you, ask yourself three simple questions. The answers will help you clarify your goals in beginning yoga.
Are you doing yoga for fitness and to get in shape as well as to explore the mind-body connection? Then choose a more vigorous yoga style like Power Yoga, Ashtanga yoga, or Bikram yoga. All three styles combine an athletic series of poses into a vigorous, total-body workout.
Are you starting yoga with an injury or a chronic medical condition? Or are you older and out of shape? Then start with a slower, more alignment-oriented class like Iyengar yoga, Kripalu yoga, or Viniyoga. All three focus on finding the safest, most precise alignment for each student in every pose.
Are the meditative and spiritual aspects of yoga your primary goal? Then try one of the yoga styles that include plenty of meditation, chanting, and the philosophic aspects of yoga. For example, you might try Kundalini yoga.