types of yoga

Yoga has become a popular practice nowadays, but there is so many different types of yoga that most beginners can get overwhelmed. 

”Yoga does not transform the way we see things, it transforms the person who sees.” — B.K.S. Iyengar

So let’s start from the beginning with Hatha Yoga- the most well-known  type of yoga.

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Hatha Yoga

Hatha is a Sanskrit word that translates into “hard”. At the same time it also means balance and the combination of “asana” or postures, with “pranayama” or breathing techniques. 

For this reason, Hatha Yoga is the precursor of the majority of the Yoga we know today: Vinyasa Yoga, Yin Yoga, Asthanga, etc.

Hatha yoga focuses on bringing balance both to the body and mind, the logical or rational mind and the emotional mind. 

This type of yoga focuses on alignment in order to make it easier for the body to move and to be still. 

Hatha yoga classes are usually a medium or low pace classes where you take the time to get into the poses proper alignment and hold the posture for a short period of time (30 seconds – 3 min, depending on the intensity of the pose).

It’s great for all levels of fitness or experience as you can adapt the pose to your body.

Research has shown great benefits of the practice of hatha yoga:

  • Decrease Anxiety
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  • Improve balance
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  • Improve fitness - cardiovascular endurance, strenght and flexibility
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  • Improve performance in other exercise modalities
  • Reduce chronic back pain
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  • Lower symptoms of depression
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vinyasa Yoga

Vinyasa is a type of yoga derived from Hatha Yoga, also known as flow yoga as poses aren’t held for long periods of time.

The term Vinyasa is derived from nyasa, meaning “to place,” and vi, meaning “in a special way.”  This indicates that we are not “throwing our bodies around” but are bringing consciousness to each movement in each moment.

In this type of yoga, the breath is used as connecting tool between the different poses and transitions are smooth between them. 

The flow can also be in a slower pace or a faster pace, which can get more challenging. Regardless, vinyasa practices generate heat in the body.

Where in Hatha Yoga you will get more stretching time, in Vinyasa Yoga you will be able to increase your heart rate promoting a healthy cardiovascular system. 

In summary, Vinyasa yoga improves energy levels while promoting relaxation and lowering stress levels. According to research:

  • Increases strength
  • Promotes cardiovascular health
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  • Lowers anxiety and stress levels
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  • Improves balance and stabilty

asthanga Yoga

Ashtanga yoga is more traditional and follows the same sequence and poses in a precise order. 

This type of yoga is a physically demanding practice, but similarly to Vinyasa yoga, it uses the breath as a connecting tool while moving between the poses.

Ashtanga yoga is meant to calm the mind while improving circulation and strength in the body. It detoxifies the organs and muscles by creating heat and sweat through the intense poses.

It is an intense practice best for more experienced yogis those who like structure or routines.

yin Yoga

Yin Yoga is the slowest paced type of yoga where principles of traditional Chinese medicine are incorporated. 

While other types of yoga activates the muscular system (yang tissues), Yin Yoga activates the ligaments, joints, fascia and connective tissues.

Positions are held for longer periods of time, usually 2 to 5 min, but could be even more, allowing the stretch to lengthen those deeper tissues.

This type of yoga helps you also to breathe through discomfort and teaches you patience. 

Some say that a Yin Yoga session may have the same effects as an acupuncture session. 

By releasing tension held on these deeper tissues, energy can easily flow again. 

The benefits are vast and should be taken in consideration in our fast pace moving world:

  • Increases flexibility
  • Boosts circulation
  • Reduces stress levels by activating parasympathetic nervous system
  • Encourages mindfulness
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