So many types of yoga, so little time

 So many types of yoga, so little time

When I signed up for my first yoga class four years ago, I opted for the simple 'beginner' class and didn't pay much attention to the other offerings. But once I'd jumped the hurdle from normal person to yogi, it was hard to ignore the number of classes out there with 'yoga' in the title. And, as I drifted from gym to gym, studio to studio, I realized just how many styles there were. I also realized that the type of yoga I was accustomed to was quite different from others that I had assumed were the same.

So many types of yoga, so little time

Considering Yoga's immense popularity, it's not surprising that you'll find several sub-types. Different styles of yoga appeal to different goals -- for some, yoga is a means to getting fit, for some it improves their flexibility and for some, it's a way to calm the mind and meditate through movement. But whatever your motivation, yoga will benefit you in one way or another -- of that I am sure.

Here's a quick run-down of some of the most popular types of yoga:

Ashtanga Yoga: this is the type of yoga that I am most accustomed to. It involves a series of postures, whether seated or standing, all link together with a vinyasa. The type of Ashtanga yoga that I am familiar with is quick-moving, physically demanding and often also referred to as 'power yoga.'

Hatha Yoga: Although Hatha yoga is a term that can refer to many types of yoga, the name is generally used to describe a gentler, relaxing, beginner-level practice. I've taken a few Hatha classes and in one, we spent the better part of the hour-long class simply meditating while sitting on our mats. Not that I'm knocking meditation, but it's something I'd rather do at home. I like to spend my gym-time actually challenging my body.

Iyengar Yoga: developed by B.K.S. Iyengar, this practice focuses on proper alignment and uses a number of props, including straps, blocks, blankets ans so on.

Bikram (aka hot) Yoga: Fully deserving of it's name, Bikram yoga is hot not only because it's the latest fitness craze, but it also takes place in a room that is heated to between 95 and 100 degrees. The idea here is that practicing in the heat allows you to become more flexible and cleanse yourself of toxins by--you guessed it--sweating. And sweat you will. Bring a small hand towel if you don't like the feeling of sweat dripping ... well ... everywhere.

So many types of yoga, so little time

Kundalini Yoga: This type of yoga is relatively new to the western world, and is more focused on the spiritual aspect of yoga than the getting-in-shape aspect. Poses are mixed with chanting, meditation and breathing techniques to deliver a well-rounded practice.

Power Yoga: Power yoga is the name for the western world's interpretation of yoga -- that is, not so much concerned with the spirituality of practice as it is with fitness. Power yoga is vigorous and challenging and will have you in yogi shape in no time. Power yoga classes tend to move quickly through a series of poses and vinyasas.

Yogalates: Yogalates is a practice that combines aspects of yoga and pilates. It's not traditional but it will help you tone your core in no time.

So what's your yoga? For me, I like a class that's challenging but that's also somewhat traditional and allows me to calm my mind and get in touch with my spirit. I tend to stick with Ashtanga, but I'm always willing to give another kind a try too.

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