Yoga has become incredibly popular in the United States over the last few years, with over 16 million people practicing on a regular basis. With a history steeped in the religions of South Asia, yoga was originally used as a way to quiet the mind by controlling the breath in a series of movements and postures.
While yoga is still an excellent way to relieve some of the stresses and worries in our hectic lives, it is also great exercise, and the very nature of yoga poses encourages stretching and the development of long and lean muscle.
Just 10 short years ago, yoga classes were not considered as mainstream as they are today, and one didn’t have many styles of yoga to choose from. Now that its popularity has soared and yoga teachers are learning more about the many different styles, it might seem confusing to a newbie.
If you’re looking to add yoga to your fitness routine but don’t know where to begin check out this handy list of three styles and the benefits of each.
1. Hatha Yoga
This type of yoga is excellent for beginners and while it’s not always considered easy, it is the best type for those who have never practiced yoga before. The poses tend to be more manageable and each pose blends seamlessly into the next.
The focus in Hatha yoga is about breathing and placing your body in the proper alignment. Blocks and other aids are often used to assist beginners in the poses, and the teachers are often very free with corrections to ensure that you get it right. Hatha is also good for those with injuries or other situations that might have hindered their flexibility.
2. Bikram Yoga
Bikram yoga, also called hot yoga, is a challenging class that takes place in a room that is heated to over 100 degrees. The poses are more difficult and the heat adds to the overall effectiveness of this type of yoga, by loosening the muscles.
This type of yoga is best practiced by those with substantial experience, and you must check with your doctor before beginning, as certain health conditions could be exacerbated by Bikram yoga. However, if you do decide this is the class for you, you can expect to lose weight and build muscle if you follow a regular schedule.
Easily the most challenging of all the yoga styles, Power yoga is designed as an intense workout and eliminates some or all of the spiritual practices of other types of yoga. The poses are difficult and each flows directly into the next with no pauses in between. Wear your monitor from HeartRateMonitors.com to really see how this type of yoga compares to other forms of exercise.
Power yoga is best for those who already have some strength and flexibility, and who have practiced other types of yoga in the past. If you’re already involved in other intense forms of exercise such as running or cycling, power yoga can be a great way to build upper body strength and keep your other muscles loose and strong.
Whether you’re interested in stress relief or want to lose weight and become more fit, yoga is the perfect way to accomplish all of those things. Simply assess your ability carefully and consult your doctor, then join the ranks of the millions of people for whom yoga has become their go-to form of exercise.