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Yoga Rookies: Your Guide to Different Types

Yoga has been around for more than 5,000 years, and it’s still going strong. So maybe it’s time to see what all the fuss is about. If you’ve been thinking about starting your life as a yogi, but are confused about where to begin, we can help. We’ll help you sort through the different offerings to see which one feels right for you.

Benefits of Yoga

Yoga undoubtedly comes with many benefits — physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.

According to the American Osteopathic Association, yoga can help you:

  • Increase flexibility, strength and muscle tone
  • Boost metabolism
  • Lose weight
  • Improve cardiovascular and joint health
  • Reduce risk of injury
  • Better manage stress
  • Increase body awareness

Understanding the Different Types of Yoga

There are more than 100 types of yoga out there, so how do you choose? Let’s break down the yoga styles most commonly practiced in the U.S.

Anusara Yoga

Anusara yoga has only been around for about 20 years. The practice places a strong focus on the mind-body-heart connection. It aims to use yoga poses and practices to help you “open your heart” and get in touch with your inner spirit. The class typically begins and ends with chanting and meditation. Even though there’s a major focus on spirituality, it will also challenge you physically.

Difficulty Level: Medium (All Levels)

Good for: People who want to focus on the spiritual element of yoga and work their bodies

Ashtanga Yoga

Ashtanga is an extremely physically demanding form of yoga. During this practice, you perform the same poses in the same order and link each movement to your breath. Instead of holding poses, you constantly move into a new one.

Difficulty Level: Hard (Advanced)

Good for: People who want a physically demanding, high-energy workout

Bikram / Hot Yoga

Bikram yoga takes place in a hot, humid room — typically about 105 degrees with 40 percent humidity. The heat is thought to help your muscles get into deeper stretches and to help you sweat out toxins. This practice has you do the same 26 poses, in the same order, every time. Hot yoga is pretty much the same, except there might be minor changes in the sequence.

Difficulty Level: Medium (All Levels)

Good for: People who like to sweat, work their bodies and who can take the heat

Hatha Yoga

Hatha yoga is a generic term that refers to any class that teaches basic yoga poses. The goal of this practice is to teach you how to do yoga postures and how to link your breath to the movements. It’s typically a slower-paced class that won’t leave you breathless or dripping in sweat. However, it can help you improve your balance and flexibility, and of course, relax.

Difficulty Level: Easy (All Levels; Great for Beginners)

Good for: People who want an introduction to yoga and anyone who enjoys the benefits that stretching and focused-breathing offer

Iyengar Yoga

Iyengar is a very precise type of yoga that focuses on proper form and alignment. You hold each pose for a long time so that you can slowly go deeper into the stretch. To help you get the “perfect” form, you can use yoga props, like blocks, blankets, bolsters, straps and more. Iyengar is a great way to recover from injuries.

Difficulty Level: Medium (All Levels)

Good for: Anyone, especially people recovering from an injury or chronic condition

Kundalini Yoga

Kundalini yoga is meant to calm your mind and energize your body. There’s not a set sequence of poses, but you can expect every class to include chanting, mantras, meditation, dynamic breathing and continually-flowing poses. This practice is based on the premise that there is an energy coiled in the bottom of your spine, and you are trying to release it so it can flow freely throughout your body. Click here to learn more about the theory of Kundalini.

Difficulty Level: Easy to Medium (All Levels)

Good for: People who are open to the spiritual element of this practice and who want yoga that targets their body and spirit

Prenatal Yoga

Prenatal yoga meets the unique needs of women throughout all stages of pregnancy, including postpartum. It focuses on slow, gentle movements that help open the hips, stretch the lower back and shoulders, and strengthen the thigh and pelvic floor muscles. Prenatal yoga aims to keep you comfortable during your pregnancy and make delivery easier.

Difficulty Level: Easy (All Levels)

Good for: Women during all stages of pregnancy and after delivery

Restorative Yoga

Restorative yoga focuses on relaxation. You use several yoga props, like blankets, bolsters and blocks to help you relax into poses without having to exert effort. You do fewer poses and spend more time in each one than with other forms of yoga. If you want to slow down your mind and relax your body, restorative yoga may be the miracle you’ve been waiting for.

Difficulty Level: Easy (All Levels)

Good for: People who just want to relax their bodies and their minds

Vinyasa Yoga

Vinyasa has you continually flow from one pose to the next, while integrating your breath to each movement. It’s the most cardio-intensive style of yoga. There are no set postures or sequences, so every class is different. Instructors often play energizing music. Vinyasa will keep your heart rate up and help you improve strength, flexibility and balance.

Difficulty Level: Medium to Hard (Intermediate to Advanced)

Good for: People who like variety and want yoga to feel like a cardio workout

Yin Yoga

Yin is a slow-paced style of yoga that focuses on relaxing your body and helping you find inner peace. It uses all seated postures, which you hold for up to two minutes. You let gravity do most of the work by allowing your muscles to soften into each pose. The goal is to gain flexibility and to enter a meditative state. This style is often incorporated into recovery programs for addiction, trauma and more.

Difficulty Level: Easy (All Levels)

Good for: People who want to reconnect with their selves as well as people with anxiety or recovering from addiction or trauma


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