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A Breakdown of the 5 Most Popular Yoga Styles

 

If you're not too familiar with yoga or have only practiced it a couple of times, you might think it's all about Downward Dog on the mat or bending like a pretzel or doing headstands. Some chanting could be involved, an out-of-body spiritual experience could occur. And you most likely think that all yoga sessions are pretty much the same in terms of moves and flows.

But that's far from the case. There is actually a multitude of yoga styles that focus on different principles, postures and poses, movements, and breathing techniques. And while all of those preconceived notions could happen when you take a class of one of these yoga styles, you may also have a completely different experience that makes you rethink your view of the exercise. The beauty of having so many options is that you can find a practice that really suits your goals and workout style.

To help, I asked yogis and experts to help break down 5 popular styles of yoga for us. See what they had to say below -new york fitness

 

Hatha

Downward Dog

 

What it focuses on: "All yoga that teaches physical postures is considered hatha yoga. It is designed to align and calm our mind, body, and spirit," says Kirschen Katz, a celebrity yoga instructor whose clients include Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern.

Common moves or flows to expect: "Joining a hatha yoga class is a wonderful way to introduce yourself to yoga and its most basic asana (poses)," Katz says. "Down Dog, Tree pose, and Pigeon pose are some of the asana you'll spend your time in. We'll also learn proper yoga breathing techniques (pranayama). We'll leave class feeling looser, longer, and relaxed."

It's good for: It's a gentle yoga practice, so it's great for beginners, but intermediate and advanced yogis will still find it challenging.

Vinyasa

Yoga at Home

 

What it focuses on: "It's described as postures grouped together so that you move from one to another seamlessly while using your breath," says Nadia Murdock, a mindset and movement expert and the founder of Nadia Murdock Fit. "An intention is placed when practicing so that you move toward what is sacred or most important to you."

Common moves or flows to expect: "Moves used in this practice include Plank pose, Knees-Chest-Chin pose, and Downward Dog," Murdock says.

It's good for: It caters to all levels, Murdock says. Specifically, slow-flow vinyasa is good for beginners. But Katz says it's helpful to have an understanding of basic yoga poses and breathwork.

Ashtanga

Yoga Class

What it focuses on: "Ashtanga yoga is a rigorous practice that is similar to vinyasa yoga, synchronizing breath to movement, but with an ashtanga practice, there are six series, and the sequence of asana in each series never changes," Katz says.

Common moves or flows to expect: "We'll start with an opening mantra (sacred chant) and move into the primary series, which consists of sun salutations. Add in challenging balancing poses, twists, and backbends, and we've got ourselves one strong yoga practice," Katz says. "We'll leave our class feeling detoxified, energized, and calm." You'll also do poses like hip openers, Child's pose, and Corpse pose, Murdock adds.

It's good for: It's excellent for intermediate and advanced. Katz recommends building a safe yoga practice and learning basic postures first before trying—perhaps spending more time practicing hatha yoga.

Iyengar

Yoga Class

What it focuses on: "This type of yoga places emphasis on precision and alignment in the performance of the postures. It's all about the details with this practice," Murdock says.

Common moves or flows to expect: "Iyengar yogis hold poses longer than usual to build stability, balance, and connectedness between the body and spirit," Katz explains. "All poses work wonderfully, just remember this is a 'low- to no-flow' practice. We'll leave our class with greater body awareness, increased flexibility, and a deeper state of bliss." And other poses you might encounter during a class are Tadasana (standing posture), Boat pose, Child's pose, Gomukhasana (Cow Face pose), Murdock adds.

It's good for: "This therapeutic style of yoga often uses props that assist in performing asana and perfect for beginning students, the elderly, or those with physical limitations," Katz says. "Also, it's excellent for teachers looking to refine their teaching skills."

Readmore: I Wore a Different Perfume Every Day for a Month—These 10 Earned Me Compliments

 

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