You may have noticed that people have literally fallen head over heels for yoga. All these people may be on to something. The benefits of yoga include physical strength and flexibility along with mental focus and relaxation. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced yogi, there’s a wealth of styles to choose from and explore to suit your needs. Below are just a few common yoga styles and how they might help.
Yoga for Increased Mindfulness: Vinyasa
Mindfulness is an attentive state of presence in the current moment. It is a simple concept that can be surprisingly difficult to achieve. All styles of yoga benefit from a focus on mindfulness, but you may want to start out with a simple style, such as Vinyasa, also known as flow yoga.
Vinyasa highlights the body-breath-mind connection. Classes focus on synchronizing breath with movement. This low-key yoga technique promotes mindfulness by encouraging you to pay attention to the relationship between poses one breath at a time.
Yoga for Relationships: AcroYoga
Yoga doesn’t have to be a solitary workout. Of course, you could attend a group class, but one form of yoga makes the practice truly a team effort: AcroYoga. This type of yoga mixes elements of yoga, acrobatics, and therapeutic massage.
AcroYoga participants work in pairs: bases and flyers. The “base” lifts and holds the “flyer.” The benefits of AcroYoga? Partners learn to surrender control and embrace working together. There’s a focus on play, as well as the joy of movement and working together. In addition to reinforcing trust, AcroYoga builds communication skills, strength, and flexibility.
Yoga for Energy: Kundalini
If you’re interested in accessing untapped stores of energy and spirituality, Kundalini yoga might be for you. Practitioners of Kundalini believe a source of energy lies coiled at the base of the spine like a serpent. It’s a unique form of yoga that focuses on releasing that potential energy, so it can be accessed.
Kundalini yoga includes chanting, singing, breathing exercises, and a set flow of poses. You’ll also discover your seven chakras, or energy centers, that help increase awareness and spiritual enlightenment.
Yoga to Improve Circulation: Bikram
If you really want to get your motor running, try Bikram yoga (also known as “hot yoga”). Bikram is a series of 26 postures performed in 90 minutes within a room that’s been heated to at least 105 degrees Fahrenheit with 40 percent humidity. It’s a sweaty session and can be an intense form of exercise.
Though Bikram enjoys the usual benefits of yoga, it’s not for everyone. Some people should avoid hot yoga sessions, including pregnant women and people with heart problems.
Give Yoga a Try
With all the types choose from, the benefits of yoga can be enjoyed by a variety of different people. There’s a style to suit just about any health need, including practices for seniors (see sidebar), rehabilitation, or strength training, and groups that cater specifically to men, women, or expectant moms. There’s even yoga with goats! (If you still need help choosing, try this yoga style flow chart.)
The best way to start getting the benefits of yoga is to try different things until you find the style or styles that work best for you and your body.