Most people have preconceived notions about yoga, but there's a lot more to this ancient form of exercise than holding a few poses. The balance, flexibility and concentration that are required mean some major benefits for your body and mind. Additionally, since there is a wide variety of styles, there's bound to be one that will fit your fitness goals, preferences and personality.
If you're overwhelmed by the options, follow this guide and you'll be Om'ing in no time:
If you're new to the yoga realm, a hatha class might be the perfect way to ease in. Because the emphasis is on incorporating proper breathing into each and every movement, the experience has a calming effect. In fact, Real Simple magazine reported that research has shown that 90 minutes of this form of yoga greatly reduced participants' stress levels. Begin with a class that has a slower pace when you're starting out so you can get a handle on the poses. Once you've mastered the moves, you can even do them in your own home.
If you're the type that tends to get antsy, consider vinyasa. With a constant, sometimes rapid flow of movement, you're definitely not going to be yawning in downward dog. Because of the faster pace, you'll also definitely work up a sweat. Some classes even include music to shake things up and get you into the rhythm. So while this may not be the best class for those seeking relaxing, restorative yoga, it's perfect for people who can't seem to sit still.
For those who want to focus more internally, this form is ideal. Since an instructor won't be walking you through every single movement and breath, you'll need to have a certain amount of self-discipline. On the plus side, though, you'll be able to personalize the session so that the pace is comfortable for you. For these reasons, FitSugar suggested ashtanga for type A personalities who enjoy routine. Something about the repetitive movements and required precision will surely make you feel a certain inner-calm.
If you're a total perfectionist and you want to hone in on proper posture, this style was made for you. Iyengar is a slower moving class that requires you to stay in certain poses for a lengthy period of time - sometimes up to several minutes. Since proper alignment is a heavy focus, you'll be far less likely to hurt yourself while exercising down the road. As long as you're patient and take direction well, you'll reap some serious smarts about the right way to move.
Don't be surprised when your mat is soaked halfway through a Bikram class: studios are heated to 105 degrees with 40 percent humidity. Still, there are definite perks. Raffael Pacitti, the owner of Bikram Yoga Manhattan, told Real Simple magazine that because the heat alleviates tension in your muscles, you're able to stretch more effectively. Plus, you'll sweat out a lot of toxins and impurities in your system. FitSugar reported that this is style is ideal for extremists. Provided you don't have a serious health condition, though, you might find it's a great fit. Just don't forget your moisture-wicking zaggora coola bra, a towel and enormous bkr water bottle.