Deciphering a schedule at a yoga studio or gym can be confusing. The unfamiliar language and the variety of classes offered can leave any beginning yogi lost when deciding what practices are best for their mental, physical and spiritual health.
Yoga can decrease stress, relax the mind and strengthen the mind-body connection. The Huffington Post even reported that yoga provides benefits for people struggling with depression, schizophrenia (with drug therapy), ADHD and problems with sleep. Once you discover the best yoga style for you, your mind and body will thank you.
Here is our helpful guide to help you discover what yoga practice is best for you:
Ashtanga is a rigorous style of yoga that is sometimes referred to as power yoga. All ashtanga practices follow a similar sequence of postures, making it a great practice for someone who travels a lot or frequently visits different yoga studios or gyms. This practice is generally performed in a heated room and it is not recommended that people drink water during the practice. If you are looking to tone your body or lose weight, ashtanga may be a good practice for you. Ashtanga practices always end with a few minutes of meditation, making it a practice that is beneficial to mental health as well.
Bikram yoga follows a strict series of 26 poses and each class takes about 90 minutes. Like ashtanga, a Bikram class always follows the same sequence, though not that same sequence as ashtanga. If you are going to try a Bikram class, be prepared to bring a towel and sweat a lot.
The room is heated to about 105 degrees with 95 percent humidity. Bikram is good for workout fanatics and people looking to lose weight, because people generally burn 500 to 600 calories during a single class. This intense yoga session will have you focusing on the next down dog, leaving your worries outside of the classroom.
Hot yoga is similar to Bikram yoga in that the room is heated. But because hot yoga classes do no have to follow the Bikram sequence, they can be shorter and the postures are more up to the teacher or studio’s discretion.
Restorative yoga is another popular yoga practice. Restorative yoga is meant to be low impact and is focused on stretching and relaxation. In a restorative yoga class, lots of blankets, blocks and/or bands are used to help practitioners achieve the maximum benefits from each pose. Restorative yoga is a practice rife with benefits for anyone looking to loosen muscles or practice mindfulness.
Vinyasa is one of the most popular forms of yoga. Vinyasa, also known as flow yoga, focuses on moving fluidly from one movement to another. Vinyasa classes are rarely the same, as the sequences are up to the teacher. Vinyasa teachers often play music during their classes and they end with meditation. Some teachers place cool stones on students’ foreheads for enhanced meditation; others rub students’ temples while they meditate to relax the mind.
Molly Dutmers is a junior communication major at Wake Forest University from Chicago. Molly is currently the editor-in-chief of the Old Gold & Black, Wake Forest’s student newspaper. When she isn’t writing or editing, Molly is spending time with her two dogs, Lulu May Georgina and Sparky Eugene Xavier.