We all know that to truly achieve optimal health we need to include exercise as a part of our lifestyle. As we get older this is especially true as strengthening and stretching become more important to keep our bodies strong and limber. While there are many different forms of exercise that may provide these components, yoga is definitely worth trying out. Not only does yoga provide the ideal combination of cardiovascular, strength training and stretching for our bodies but also has the added benefit of meditation and relaxation for our minds – another very important component to health and longevity.
There are many different forms of yoga to choose from that offer a variety of benefits for everyone. All styles and practices focus on breathing and yoga postures to achieve different results and varying degrees of intensity throughout the practice. If you’re a beginner (or just prefer group exercise), try taking a yoga class to learn yoga poses, modifications and proper alignment. This is a great way to try different types of yoga to find the best fit for your body and goals. Props such as blocks or bands and pose modifications can also be used to tailor your practice to your specific needs. If you prefer to practice at home and feel more comfortable learning on your own, try a yoga dvd instead.
Oh, and if you exercise regularly and/or are more advanced and think yoga is too easy or slow-paced for you – think again. There are many forms including power yoga that give you an intense cardiovascular workout with more advanced poses and faster sequences that will definitely have you feeling the burn -- and seeing results.
Check out the list below for some of the different types of yoga and a short description to see which form you might want to try:
Ananda Yoga - (gentle postures that prepare the body for meditation)
Anusara Yoga - (strict principles of alignment with a playful spirit)
Ashtanga (or Astanga) Yoga - (synchronized breathing with a continuous series of postures)
Bikram Yoga - (using a heated environment to promote flexibility and detoxification)
Dahn Yoga - (a mind-body practice that combines the ancient wisdom of Ki energy training with modern techniques to maximize the brain's functioning)
Hatha - (easy-to-learn basic form of yoga that combines breathing and meditation)
Integral Yoga - (combines postures, breathing exercises, meditation, chanting and prayer)
ISHTA - (focuses on opening energy channels
throughout the body with postures, visualizations, and meditation)
Iyengar Yoga - (promotes strength, flexibility, endurance, and balance through coordinated breathing and poses that require precise body alignment)
Jivamukti Yoga - (a vigorous and challenging asana form with an emphasis on scriptural study, Sanskrit chanting, vegetarianism, non-violence, meditation, devotion to God and the role that music and listening play in the practice of yoga)
Kali Ray TriYoga - (a series of flowing, dancelike poses that also incorporates breathing exercises and meditation)
Kripalu - (gentle, introspective practice urges practitioners to hold poses to explore and release emotional and spiritual blockages)
Kundalini - (practice concentrates on awakening the energy at the base of the spine and drawing it upward)
Power Yoga - (a discipline that combines stretching, strength training, and meditative breathing)
Restorative Yoga - (passively allowing muscles to relax by lying on blocks, blankets and yoga bolsters)
Sivananda Yoga - (combines postures, breathing, dietary restrictions, chanting, scriptural study, and meditation)
Svaroopa Yoga - (promotes healing and transformation often beginning in chair poses that are comfortable)
Viniyoga - (a gentle, healing practice that is tailored to each person's body type and needs as they grow and change)
Vinyasa - (focuses on coordination of breath and movement and it is a very physically active form of yoga)
White Lotus Yoga - (breath work and meditation)
Now that you know a little more about yoga, take a class or pick up a dvd and give the form that most appeals to you a try – you can get in shape, de-stress and heal your body all at the same time. All you need is a yoga mat and an open mind & heart ;)
For more info on yoga, check out the links below:
10 different types of yoga
what is dahn's yoga?
different types of yoga disciplines