Types of yoga: find the one that best suits your needs

Yoga has become a very fashionable sport in recent times. It is a discipline that has multiple benefits. It is a complete workout for body, mind and spirit. One of its many advantages is that there are practically no limitations, there are several types of yoga and they can be adapted to the abilities and/or needs of those who wish to practice it.

If properly selected, yoga can help us to recover from certain pathologies. We can also do it while recovering from some injuries, whether sporting or not. We review some types of yoga to help you discover the one that best suits your needs.

11 Types of yoga

Tipos de yoga

Types of yoga to start with ‘Hatha Yoga’

This type of yoga offers a basic approach to teaching yoga postures (asanas) and breathing exercises (pranayamas). It is, therefore, an excellent way to get started in the world of yoga as it is a modality that can be done by practically anyone regardless of their age or initial physical condition. The bandhas (muscular contractions to concentrate and direct energy, as well as to protect the joints) are one of the fundamental characteristics of this modality. Their main objective is relaxation and stress reduction. Little by little and with patience, you will gain flexibility, muscle strength and toning, among other benefits.

Modalities within Hatha yoga

Within this modality we find Bikram Yoga (also called Hot Yoga or yoga with heat), a variant of Hatha Yoga that consists of a sequence of 26 postures (of the 84 classic Hatha Yoga postures) that are performed in a 90-minute session at 40ºC and between 40-50% humidity. Obviously, due to these characteristics, this discipline must be performed in specialised centres and under the supervision of an expert. Developed by Bikram Choudhury in the early 1970s, this variant of yoga aims to burn fat more effectively, redistributing it over the body surface, and to eliminate toxins. In this case, it would be necessary to assess whether the person has the right physical conditions to perform this exercise in these hot and humid conditions.

Anusara yoga is another type of yoga that can be included in Hatha yoga. Anusara is a Sanskrit term that means “to flow with grace”, “to follow the heart”. It consists of a Hatha yoga practice combined with tantric philosophy. Almost all postures are oriented towards opening the heart. In this modality, forced postures are avoided. The practice of this modality links us with the Earth and the Universe. Its main benefits, in addition to those already mentioned with Hatha yoga, are many. It helps us to see things from a different perspective, helping us to accept what is happening to us and around us; it improves our flexibility; it helps us to combat stress by increasing endorphin levels. This type of yoga should also be practised in specialised centres.

Vinyasa Yoga

This is not the ideal type of yoga to start with if you are a beginner. Vinyasa yoga is a generic name that includes those styles that include dynamic sequences called “vinyasa”. It is a more dynamic type of yoga where less time is spent in each posture. Here the energy is focused on flowing from one posture to another creating a dynamic movement. Breathing is also very important here as it has to be synchronised with the movement. This modality has multiple benefits. If mastered, practised regularly and patiently, it will help us to be more flexible, stronger, to eliminate toxins, in short, to be healthier.

Ashtanga yoga

This type of yoga can be included in vinyasa yoga. It has multiple benefits but it is one of the most physically demanding modalities. Here the order of the asanas is predefined and the transition from one posture to another is done in a faster and more fluid way. It is based on the vinyasa technique (practice of asanas in a fluid way, passing from one to another through movements called vinyasas). It is practised through 8 different steps (Ashtanga means “8 steps” in Sanskrit).

Although it could be suitable for all types of people, it is perhaps not the ideal modality to start practicing yoga, in fact it is not recommended for pregnant women. It is a more dynamic practice that is based on aerobic work and requires a higher level of demand than other modalities.

Kundalini yoga: the yoga of consciousness or of energy

It can be considered as the primordial yoga that is based on awakening and raising the kundalini energy, a force (the latent creative potential of each person) that is dormant at the base of the spine (first chakra). This force, this energy, represented as a coiled serpent, as it awakens, rises up the spine and purifies through the different energy cores or chakras to finally allow us to achieve personal fulfilment on the physical, mental and spiritual levels.

It enhances concentration using physical, mental and spiritual resources. It brings general well-being and emotional balance. Among its many benefits are: reduction of stress and anxiety, strengthens the abdominal muscles, increases the flexibility of the spine, strengthens the immune system and the nervous system, improves memory and increases creativity. It can be done at any age, although in children under 12 years of age, in which the practice can help them to reinforce their self-esteem, providing a more optimistic point of view and keeping away negativity, it is recommended to adapt the routine by carrying out playful practices guided by monitors.

The type of yoga that is most based on ancient traditions ‘Jivamukti yoga’

This is a type of yoga based on Ashtanga yoga combined with spiritual teachings. It is a physically vigorous and intellectually stimulating practice that is taught in specialised centres with teachers trained in this discipline. This method was developed by Sharon Gannon and David Life in New York in the 1980’s. Jivamukti means “liberation in life”. It is based on ancient traditions and is based on five pillars; Ahimsa: the practice of non-violence. In short, creating an environment, a lifestyle of non-violence in all our interactions with the world; Bhakti: devotion. Promotes understanding and tolerance of all forms of religious and spiritual beliefs; Shastra: the study of the sacred scriptures, the writings of the great masters; Nada: Sound. Focuses on inner listening, chanting and meditation on mantras; Dharana: meditation.

Yin yoga

This type of yoga is characterised by a very slow rhythm, it lacks the dynamism of other types of yoga. It offers balance and stillness. Here the postures are held for a long time, between 1 and 5 minutes, as the focus is on the connective tissues of the body, the fasciae, and not the muscle groups.

This is the type of yoga we should choose if we are looking for release, relaxation and flexibility. Here the aim is not to strengthen the muscles but to relax them. It is the ideal type of yoga to practice if you have any kind of pathology or injury as the practice can be adapted to the personal history of trauma or injury as well as to the skeletal and joint composition of each patient. It is also the ideal style to practice during pregnancy. The practice of yin yoga includes various asanas, pranayama, relaxation and meditation.

Yoga nidra

Also known as yogic sleep, this type of yoga is a very powerful meditation technique. As you can imagine, it has multiple benefits. Yoga nidra can be practised by everyone, from children to the elderly. All you need to do is to lie down or, if this is not possible, to sit. It is also an easy practice to incorporate into your daily life, as it can last from five minutes to hours. It reduces stress and allows us to advance our self-knowledge by giving us time for ourselves to reflect and focus on our emotions.

Types of yoga ‘Dharma yoga’ the elegant one

This style of yoga was created by the school of Sri Dharma Mittra and is based on the practice of traditional yoga and promotes a meditative and spiritual practice. It consists of four sequences of movements that are linked together. It is atype of yoga for those who have a more advanced level of practice as, among other postures, inverted postures are worked on. In this style, these inverted postures are performed in the middle of the class and not at the end as usual. In addition to its physical benefits, this discipline helps us to control our thoughts and increase our attention, promotes restful and deep sleep, supports strength and bone development, improves cardiovascular health, reduces anxiety and depression, improves balance and relieves back pain.

Restorative yoga

Also based on Hatha yoga, this discipline aims at relaxation, breathing and support work. It is a gentle and therapeutic type of yoga. It can be practised by anyone who wishes to do it, even those who do not practice any sport. Restorative yoga is an excellent tool for improving flexibility, muscle strength and toning. It also allows us to release stress, reduce anxiety, activates the parasympathetic nervous system causing wellbeing and relief and is especially useful for patients with chronic pain. The postures are held for 5 to 20 minutes.

Sivananda yoga

Also based on Hatha yoga. This is a slow-paced style of yoga. Therefore, meditation, breathing and spirituality have more weight here. It is based on five principles: proper exercises without harming the body (based on 12 asanas), correct breathing, proper relaxation, natural and balanced diet and positive thinking. It can be practised by anyone due to its gentle pace. Classes begin and end with chanting and meditation.

Types of acrobatic yoga ‘Aerial Yoga’

Also known as Aeroyoga, Antigravity yoga or suspended yoga, this is a combination of yoga exercises with acrobatic movements, Pilates and dance. This practice is performed on a swing formed with a fabric hanging from the ceiling. Among its many benefits are: it increases muscle and joint flexibility, tones the muscles, improves circulation and breathing. We are doing a cardiovascular exercise that helps to drain the lymphatic system, reduces stress, improves our proprioception, develops creativity and helps to correct body posture. However, it is a practice that has its contraindications and must be carried out under the supervision of professionals in specialised centres.

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