The word “yoga” means “union”. Yoga aligns the mind with the body. The benefits of yoga are both physical and emotional. Yoga is a practice that has existed since ancient times. The relevance of yoga has never been lost. Yoga helps achieve perfect alignment between mind and body. Therefore, even today, yoga is necessary for healthy and wholesome living. Different types of yoga practice focus on a common goal: overall well-being and physical health.
You can practice types of yoga from the comfort of your home and enjoy all its benefits. The best part about yoga is that you only need a mat and half an hour each day to get started on this path.
Nowadays, forms of yoga have become part of our lives. Yoga is a therapeutic tool to treat physical and mental problems. Therefore, it is not fair to assume that yoga is for a particular religion or community.
If you search online, you can find different types of yoga that target specific health issues. For example, therapeutic yoga includes yoga for back pain, yoga for reducing belly fat, yoga asana for weight loss, and even weight gain. It is a set of physical postures and breathing exercises that holistically target the problem and eradicate the problems.
benefits of yoga
Yoga, unlike other forms of exercise, is a way of life. Terms like yoga glow, yoga abs, yogic calmness have become popular over the years. Someone who practices yoga over time sees a big difference in her body and how she feels. Some of the major benefits of yoga are:
- Sustained practice leads to weight loss
- Improved blood circulation, which improves the quality and texture of the skin
- Delays overall aging and is therapeutic in nature
- Improves physical endurance
- Good for gut health and better digestion
- Improves fertility and reproductive health
- Improves sleep cycle
- It makes you calm and happy
- Improves concentration
- Reduces stress
- Improves immunity
To research shows the therapeutic benefits of yoga. Practicing yoga makes you fitter compared to people who don’t do yoga.
Different types of yoga
The Sanskrit word Hatha means “strength”. Therefore, hatha yoga restores balance to the body. This type of yoga works on the harmony between the chakras and the energy points. Chakras are energy vortices or points in our body where energy is concentrated. They are present in seven different places in the body and connect to specific organs and glands.
Hatha yoga includes many postures and physical positions that balance the body and mind. Different types of yoga practiced by various schools and teachers have certain fundamental commonalities.
To research shows that Hatha yoga helps us relax, stay fit and agile, and look younger. Moreover, Hatha yoga purifies and heals our system. Plus, sustained practice leads to weight loss and toned muscles.
The different types of yoga forms derived from hatha yoga are:
Ashtanga yoga is a direct emanation from the Yoga Sutras of sage Patanjali. Famous as the form of yoga for weight loss, the word ashtanga is derived from the word eight in Sanskrit.
Ashtanga yoga is based on eight pillars: principles, self-discipline, asanas and postures, pranayama, withdrawal, concentration, meditation and salvation.
Some of the different types of common asanas practiced in Ashtanga yoga are:
- The butterfly
- Kapalbhati pranayama
- Anulom vilom pranayama
- Surya bhedi pranayama
- Chandra bhedi pranayama
If you are looking for yoga for anxiety and stress relief, upper back pain, lower back pain or fat loss, ashtanga would be the best for you.
This form of yoga is also called “flow yoga”. The word “Vinyasa” has two parts, Vi meaning variation and Nyasa meaning within prescribed limits.
Vinyasa yoga incorporates movement and breathing techniques. It creates a flow of postures with controlled breathing reproducing the flow of life. For example, Vinyasa yogis initiate the flow with a child’s pose and end the flow with death’s pose (the savasana). The transitions in each pose reflect movement through life. Meditation is part of the advanced practices of vinyasa yoga, which makes the form more aware.
For a beginner in vinyasa yoga, the ideal sequence would be:
- Plank Pose (Kumbhakasana)
- Knee-chest-chin pose (Ashtanga Namaskara)
- Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
- Downward Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Vinyasa yoga is a good choice for those who like high intensity exercises. Additionally, Vinyasa yoga is great for anxiety, depression, blood pressure, and sleep.
Also known as “yoga of awareness,” kundalini yoga involves repetitive poses. Kundalini Yoga awakens the latent Kundalini Shakti. This spiritual energy resides at the base of the spine. Yogis believe that Kundalini Shakti is like a coiled, unawakened serpent at the base of the spine. Therefore, the active energy moves up the spine and contributes to your spiritual well-being. Kundalini yoga is also good for stress, anxiety, depression and better cognitive function.
The movements begin with a chant, followed by pranayama, the act of controlled and precise breathing. Then comes the kriya, a set of postures or mudras (specific positioning of the hands). Then we perform pranayama, chanting and meditation.
Jal neti kriya is a cleansing technique that helps remove mucus and other blockages from the nasal passage.
This type of yoga is quite similar to vinyasa yoga. It takes its name from BKS Iyengar, one of the greatest yoga teachers in the world. Iyengar yoga is different from other types of yoga. It mainly focuses on posture, body alignment and body openness. He also uses props like yoga blocks and belts to perfect the poses.
- Increase flexibility
- Toned muscles
- A calmer mind
- Pain relief
- Improved posture and alignment
- Protection against disease
- Improved breathing
- Strengthen the muscles
A study shows that Iyengar yoga effectively cured musculoskeletal disorders. In this condition, one faces severe back and neck pain. Additionally, it has shown visible results in treating spinal disabilities. The development of strength, mobility and stability is gradual. It also helps to cure gynecological and gastroenterological diseases.
It is suitable not only for advanced people but also for beginners. It helps build toned and lean muscles. Unlike traditional yoga, aerial yoga also incorporates other exercises, while defying gravity. It has the benefits of yoga and cardio exercises like swimming or running.
In this particular yoga, a rope suspends our body in the air, and the poses are introduced below.
- Burns body fat
- It improves flexibility
- Heals breathing difficulties
- Provides stress relief
- Increases base strength
- Improves posture
Four Main Paths of Yoga
Karma yoga is the path of devotion to selfless work. In other words, it is a yoga of action. This means that one must devote time, energy and effort to any task. There should be no expectation of reward or approval. It is considered a humiliating practice because one does not work for the ego but for the greater good.
Jnana yoga is the yoga of intellectual knowledge and practical wisdom. This form is all about self-realization through meditative awareness. We experience knowledge and develop an intuitive understanding. One learns to separate the ego from the true Self.
Jnana yoga has three main stages:
- Sravana (hearing or exposing oneself to knowledge),
- Manana (thinking and revisiting wisdom to better understand),
- Nididhyasana (meditation).
Jnana yoga may not be physically challenging, but it is one of the most difficult forms of yoga to practice, as it requires an open mind.
Raja Yoga means king in Sanskrit. Raja Yoga is also known as ‘classical yoga’, ‘king of yogis’ or ‘yoga of the mind’. It is also called ashtanga yoga.
The word ashtanga alludes to the number eight, and ashtanga yoga also includes eight steps:
- Yama (Principles)
- Niyama (personal discipline)
- Asanas (positions and postures)
- Pranayama (breathing practices)
- Pratyahara (Withdrawal)
- Dharana (concentration)
- Dhyan (Meditation)
- Samadhi (hi)
Asanas can be practiced and polished over time to perfection. For example, some of the common asanas practiced in ashtanga yoga are Padmasana (the lotus pose), Simhasana (the lion pose), Bhadrasana (the butterfly pose, etc.).
Many breathing exercises or pranayamas, like Kapalbhati, Anulom Vilom, Surya Bhedi, Chandra Bhedi, etc., make it suitable for dealing with daily stress. Raja yoga is perfect for you if you want to do yoga to relieve anxiety, stress or back pain.
Bhakti comes from bhaj, which means to worship or love God. Some people see bhakti-yoga as a way to break free from the eternal cycle of birth and death. Walking this spiritual path helps to unite one’s soul or ‘atman’ with Brahman or ‘true reality’.
Depending on the type of Bhakti you choose to follow, you identify yourself as a particular type of devotee or bhakt.
- Artha – distressed
- Artharthi – one who wants materialistic wealth
- Jijnasu – the curious
- Jnani – one who is self-aware
Different formats of yoga practices
Yoga in the modern world has evolved and diversified into specific practices.
Involves massages and exercises that work your facial muscles to soften and relax them to get rid of stress, tension and worry. This form of yoga has become popular in recent years. Followers believe this form of yoga reverses aging and makes you look a decade younger.
Yin yoga is a mixture of martial arts and yoga. This form increases blood circulation in the joints and improves flexibility and muscle tone. The postures last at least one minute, and with practice one can hold the same pose for five minutes or more. Yin yoga also makes ingenious use of props like blocks and blankets. It is therefore known to be practiced after training due to its ability to relax the joints of the body.
Yang yoga is relatively less experimental and blends Hatha, Vinyasa and Ashtanga. This form is more energetic than Yin Yoga. It focuses on developing stamina, endurance, easing tension in the body, and building muscle mass.
Power yoga has its roots in ashtanga yoga. One should perform yoga poses at a much faster and more active pace. It works to tone the muscles and also improves flexibility.
Restorative yoga aims to completely relax in the various poses. This form of yoga uses props to support the body. Guided meditation is an integral part of restorative yoga. The main objective of restorative yoga is to relax the nervous system. A great form for actively de-stressing and calming those anxious nerves. The idea is to hold poses for a few minutes.
Prenatal yoga aims to reduce the discomfort and pain associated with pregnancy. Prenatal yoga teaches practical breathing exercises that can be very helpful during labor. Some techniques taught in prenatal yoga can also be part of postnatal yoga. This form helps new mothers lose weight gained during pregnancy.
Benefits of yoga during pregnancy
- Endurance of the pelvic muscles necessary for childbirth
- Reduced back pain, nausea and headaches
- Controls shortness of breath
- Improves sleep quality
- Relieves general stress
There are different types of yoga for everyone. Discover the yoga technique that best suits your needs with guidance from a certified yoga trainer. Remember that you cannot feel the benefits of yoga in a short time. It’s a long-term commitment. Once you get involved and regular, you’ll never want to give up yoga.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q. What are the four main paths of yoga?
A. The four main types of yoga are Karma Yoga (selfless service), Bhakti Yoga (devotion), Raja Yoga (meditation), Jnana Yoga (intellect).
Q. What are the eight styles of yoga?
A. Eight popular yoga styles are Ashtanga yoga, Hatha yoga, Hot yoga, Iyengar yoga, Kundalini yoga, Power yoga, Restorative yoga, Vinyasa yoga.
Q. What are the five main types of yoga?
A. The main types of yoga are Ashtanga, Hatha Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Anusara Yoga
Q. What is the most popular yoga?
A. Hatha yoga is the most popular yoga. It is a series of gentle sequences coupled with meditation. This type of yoga is ideal for people who decide to do yoga for the first time, because its postures are relatively easy.
Q. What is the most difficult type of yoga?
A. For any form of yoga to be perfected, it takes years of practice. For example, no posture is perfect on the first day. Likewise, it takes years to gain mind control. As a result, some may find concentration difficult and others find yoga postures difficult.
Q. What type of yoga is best for weight loss?
A. All forms of yoga can provide weight loss. Powerful poses provide the benefits of a full body workout. It burns calories through rapid and continuous movements.
Q. What type of yoga is primarily about stretching?
A. Restorative yoga is a meditative style. It includes stretching by holding poses for several minutes.
Q. What are the five benefits of yoga?
A. It improves metabolism, helps relieve stress, aids in weight loss, reduces lower back pain and improves sleep quality.
Q. What are the disadvantages of yoga?
A. There are no disadvantages if practiced under the supervision of a qualified teacher.
Q. How fast does yoga change your body?
A. The period may vary from person to person. Yoga takes time compared to intensive training. It takes around 6-12 weeks to show results when done consistently.
Q. Is 25 minutes of yoga a day enough?
A. In general, a minimum of 20 minutes of yoga per day is enough to see visible results. Breaking down the practice of sun salutation, standing poses, lying poses, and focusing on different body parts on different days makes the short practice effective.
Q. In which age group is yoga most popular?
A. Yoga is effective for all age groups. But, unfortunately, many teenagers stay away because of its meditative quality. However, things are changing now due to their therapeutic qualities.
Q. When is the best time to do yoga?
A. Yoga is usually practiced at dawn or dusk to get the most benefit from it.