Which Type of Yoga is Right for You?

For 5,000 years people have enjoyed the soothing and spiritual practice of yoga. After all, how can one go wrong with stretching, relaxing and mediating all while toning the body? Today there are yoga studios on many corners, but that doesn’t mean everyone has a class that’s right for everyone. Most yoga styles use the same poses, or asanas, but the application of each is what makes the difference. Let’s look at some of the most popular styles found at studios offering yoga in Irvine.

The most commonly practiced yoga style is also one of the most gentle and welcoming to new practitioners. “Ha” translates in Sanskrit to “sun,” and “tha” means “moon,” so the focus is on bringing balance to the body. Movements in these classes are slow and deliberate with a focus on breathing and postures that allow energy to flow freely throughout the body. Regular attendees to these classes likely will see increased muscle flexibility, concentration and bone strength. When people use the general term “yoga,” Hatha most likely is the style they are referring to. Learn more about Hatha yoga here.

This style often is called “flow” yoga, and the primary focus is on the breathing used when transitioning from one asana to the next. Rather than stopping and starting a pose, the movements should be fluid and smooth with specific breathing to get the full benefit. Vinyasa is a type of Hatha that includes a 12-asana series called the Sun Salutation, among other poses. It’s good for beginners and intermediate practitioners alike and offers the same body-conditioning benefits as Hatha.

A more intense style of yoga, Ashtanga brings a faster pace to the class while sticking to a prescribed sequence of asanas. The focus continues to be on breathing in this “eight-limbed” style, but the expectation of contracted muscles outweighs that of relaxation. Practitioners of this kind of yoga in Irvine are meant to practice on a nearly daily basis with the goal of full-body fitness and acute mental focus.

This type of yoga takes much the same approach as Ashtanga but often adds props such as straps, belts or blocks to the poses. There are more standing asanas, and they may be held for a longer period of time with perfect alignment being a primary aim. Improved balance is one benefit of the long holding times, so these classes are good for beginners who like a slower pace but want to improve strength and balance.

Also known as “hot” yoga, Bikram is practiced in a hot room, generally 95-105 degrees Fahrenheit, with a high humidity. The class is standardized by a 90-minute length and 26-pose routine. The excessive sweating during the class is said to release toxins and increase flexibility, though practitioners must be careful not to overexert themselves.

Among the many types of yoga in Irvine, there are opportunities for everyone to find a style that is right for them. Some of the five mentioned above have variations for specific groups, such as children or pregnant women, that might be a perfect fit. It’s just a matter of trying several until the best one reveals itself.