Wednesday is here! Let’s continue our discussion on the wonderful world of yoga. Today we’ll learn about the different types of yoga, and more importantly, I hope you discover the type that’s best for you. As you’ll see, the different styles of yoga offer different benefits. While there is some overlap in all of them, some are quite unique. Let’s dive in, and you’ll see what I mean.
First, think of the specific goals you’d like to achieve in your yoga practice. Notice how it’s called, “practice?” You’ll find yoga is a journey where you can continually improve and develop your skills. Think of it like this – your granddaughter has to practice her dance routine before the big recital, or your grandson needs to practice his baseball skills before the big game. Your yoga practice is the same. You need to practice to continually grow to improve both physically and mentally. The cool thing is, it doesn’t matter where you start. This is YOUR practice, so you can make it work for you.
Now, with your goals in mind, let’s start the search for YOUR perfect class!
To increase strength and flexibility without getting on the floor
Try: Chair Yoga
Chair yoga is a gentle form of yoga practiced sitting on a chair or standing, using a chair for support. The cool thing about yoga is that anyone can do it. The goal is to work with your body instead of against it. Chair yoga is a gentle, effective way to increase your strength and flexibility.
To gain stability and increase mobility
Try: Iyengar yoga
Iyengar yoga is the practice of precision, which pays close attention to correct body alignment. The postures are held longer, as opposed to some styles that move quickly from pose-to-pose. Props are often used. (Yoga props include things like yoga blocks, straps, and/or folded blankets.) This method is designed to safely develop strength, flexibility, and stability, along with mind-body awareness. It’s particularly therapeutic if you have specific limitations or conditions. This style uses a yoga mat on the floor. If you feel comfortable getting down and up, this can be a great place to start.
To become more centered
Try: Kundalini yoga
Kundalini yoga is a spiritual practice that aims to expand consciousness, ignite passion, and increase physical vitality. The method is multidimensional, using rhythm, movement, breath, and sound to effectively stimulate and shift your energy. The practice alternates between active exercises and periods of relaxation. In this class, you’ll be guided to release stored emotional and psychological blocks and to allow creative energy to flow freely.
To calm your mind develop more self-acceptance
Try: Kripalu yoga
Although I’ve never tried it, Kripalu yoga is a comprehensive and compassionate approach that uses deep relaxation and meditation. The goal is to promote physical health by calming the mind, opening the heart, and developing a deeper level of self-awareness. Throughout the class, you are prompted by questions such as, “What are you feeling right now?” and “What is your body asking for?” And, students are encouraged to move and modify postures by emphasizing compassionate self-awareness and acceptance.
To become a lean, mean machine
Try: Astanga yoga
The previous two styles of yoga focused primarily on relaxation and mental health, but Ashtanga yoga is a strenuous, physically demanding style of yoga. It is comprised of a set of 75 poses performed in a Vinyasa style. (Vinyasa is just a fancy way of saying the poses flow from one to the next.) This style of yoga is a great way to build upper body and core strength, but be prepared to sweat as you briskly move through a set of sequenced postures while remaining focused on your breath. If you haven’t tried yoga before, this might not be the best place to start because it is so strenuous.
Try: Bikram yoga
Again, if you’re just starting out, you probably won’t want to start here. But, you might have heard of, “Hot Yoga,” and this is it. It’s a series of yoga poses performed in a heated room, typically 95°-100°. The poses are performed in a Vinyasa (flowing) style that is quite vigorous. The purpose of the heat is to speed up the natural detoxifying process of your body.
As you can tell by now, there are many types of yoga. Some are more physically demanding, while others focus on calming the mind through breathing and meditation. Often times, though, classes incorporate techniques from multiple styles. Shop around until you find the style and instructor that’s best for you. If you try a class, and you don’t enjoy it, remember not all yoga classes are the same. Find the one that makes you want to come back for more.
If you don’t know where to start, try getting a membership to yogaglo.com. I have one, and I love it! The website has over 4,000 yoga classes to choose from, and you can sort by the class style, level, focus, etc. There are a bunch of options, so you can really tailor your practice to YOU. Best of all, you can try it for FREE for 15 days. If you like it and want to continue, it’s just $18/month after that. I’ve learned a lot from this website, and you can too!
Next week we’ll conclude our yoga series by learning some of the most popular chair-based poses. The best news is that you can practice them in your own living room. Have a great week, and get ready to move next week.
Stay happy, healthy, and N motion, AND REMEMBER…age is just a number!
Melissa Merkle and Kirt Lietzow own Boomers N Motion, an exercise and health coaching business focused on keeping baby boomers and older adults active, pain-free, and full of energy into their golden years. For more information on group classes and private, in-home coaching, please visit boomersNmotion.com or contact Melissa and Kirt at coaches@boomersNmotion.com.
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