Yoga is a holistic practice that’s been around for thousands of years. Originating in India, it’s helped many people around the world achieve a state of physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. There are lots of different types of yoga, each with its own focus and benefits.
Here are some of the most popular styles, with a focus on how they can help heal the mind, body, and spirit.
- Hatha Yoga: In Sanskrit, ha tha means ‘sun moon’, and relates to the concept of balanced forces. This is a gentle style of yoga that focuses on physical postures, or asanas, and breathing techniques. Hatha yoga is a good starting point for beginners because it’s slow-paced, and provides a foundation for learning the basic yoga postures. It can help to improve flexibility, balance, and strength, as well as relieve stress and tension in the body.
- Vinyasa Yoga: This is a dynamic style of yoga that focuses on flowing movements, synchronised with the breath. Vinyasa yoga is known for its fast-paced, cardio-based nature, with a lot of variety. It can help to improve cardiovascular health and build endurance. It’s a great option for those who are looking for an intense workout that also incorporates mindfulness and meditation.
- Iyengar Yoga: Developed over 75 years, this style of yoga emphasises proper alignment and often includes the use of props, such as blankets, blocks, and straps, to assist the practitioner in achieving correct form. Iyengar yoga is great for people with physical limitations, as well as those who are recovering from injury, because it helps to build strength and flexibility in a safe and controlled manner.
- Restorative Yoga: This is a gentle style of yoga that is designed to promote relaxation and healing. Restorative yoga involves the use of props, such as blankets, bolsters, and blocks, to support the body in a variety of relaxing postures. It is a good option for people who are looking to reduce stress and anxiety, as well as those who are recovering from illness or injury.
- Kundalini Yoga: This style of yoga is focused on awakening the energy that is stored at the base of the spine and raising it up through the chakras. Kundalini yoga combines physical postures, breathing techniques, meditation, and mantra to help the practitioner achieve a state of spiritual awakening and mental clarity.
- Bikram Yoga: This is a hot style of yoga that is practiced in a room heated to 41°C and 40 per cent humidity, with classes lasting 90 minutes. Very popular in California in the 1970s, Bikram yoga consists of a series of 26 postures and two breathing techniques that are performed in a specific sequence. It is a great option for those looking to improve flexibility, build strength, and detoxify the body.
- Yin Yoga: This is a slow-paced style of yoga that focuses on deep stretching and relaxation. Yin yoga is characterised by long-held, passive poses that are held for several minutes at a time. It’s a great option for those looking to improve flexibility, reduce stress and tension, and increase circulation.
There are many lesser-known styles of yoga that have unique benefits. One of these is jumping yoga, also known as ‘jumpboard’ yoga. This is performed on a trampoline-like board.
It combines elements of traditional yoga postures with the benefits of cardio and cardiovascular exercise. The jumping motion helps to increase circulation, boost the immune system, and improve balance and coordination.
Jumpboard yoga is a low-impact form of exercise, making it a good option for people who are looking to improve their physical health without putting too much stress on their joints. The bouncing motion can also help to stimulate the lymphatic system and enhance detoxification processes, helping to boost overall health and well-being.
The jumping motion helps release tension and reduce stress, while the mindfulness and breathing practices of yoga helps improve focus and concentration.
This is a fun and unique form of yoga that can provide a wide range of physical and mental health benefits. If you’re looking for a new form of exercise that incorporates elements of traditional yoga and cardio, jumpboard yoga might be a good option to consider.
- Ashtanga Yoga: Very popular since the 1990s, this is a dynamic, athletic style that follows a specific sequence of postures, and designed to unify the ‘eight limbs’ of yoga. It’s known for its fast pace and physically demanding nature, making it a great option for those looking to build strength and endurance.
- Jivamukti Yoga: Created in 1984, this style combines physical postures, meditation, and spiritual teachings. It’s focused on promoting compassion, non-violence and environmental activism, and is a great option for those looking to deepen their connection to their spiritual practice.
- Sivananda Yoga: This is a classical style of yoga that focuses on the five principles of proper exercise, proper breathing, proper relaxation, proper diet, and positive thinking and meditation. Sivananda is a gentle and holistic form of yoga that is great for people of all levels and abilities. Since 2019, the form has been tarnished by widespread allegations of sexual abuse by its founder Vishnudevananda.
- Anusara Yoga: This modern, ‘heart-led’ practice focuses on aligning the physical body with the heart and spirit, characterised by its emphasis on heart-opening postures and its use of positive affirmations to promote a sense of well-being.
- Power Yoga: This is a fast-paced and physically demanding style of yoga, inspired by Ashtanga yoga. Power yoga is a great option for those looking to improve their physical fitness and build strength and endurance.
These are just a few examples of the many different styles of yoga that are available. The Northern Rivers of NSW is a great place to find people and classes who can help you explore various styles on your own yoga journey, until you find the form that resonates best with your own interests and goals.
No matter what type of yoga you choose, the practice has the potential to heal the mind, body, and spirit.
By combining physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation, yoga can help to reduce stress and tension, improve physical health, and promote a wonderful sense of inner peace and well-being.