Choosing a yoga style has never been easier with the abundance of information all over the internet. Sit back and imagine attempting to master a style of yoga just 50 years ago. What about 100 years ago? Surely, you would have had to find a Guru and a whole lot of faith. Today, finding a Guru and style is as simple as opening a browser.
There are a few original styles of yoga, but now there are also many styles of yoga fusion. Everything from pole dancing yoga to acrobatic yoga exists today, giving the practice of yoga a chance at appealing to a much broader amount of people.
Since this article is meant to encompass traditional styles, only original yoga styles will be listed here. Look for future articles about specialty and fusion styles of yoga.
Hatha yoga style is most commonly picked up by beginners. It is a gentle style for people with any type of past injury or weak body part. Hatha is a relaxing yoga practice, used to induce a state of peace. This slow and relaxing style is meant to bring about active meditation, where the body is actively busy enough to allow the mind to wander into a meditation. This style also teaches the basic yogic principles and moves. Hatha requires no previous experience.
Vinyasa is a series of movements done in a relatively quick pace matched to one's own personal breathing cycles. Each movement is assigned to a deep breath in or out, to stimulate the body into becoming a conduit of energy. This yogic style is wonderful as an early morning workout to get circulation flowing.
Vinyasa is also particularly great for those who suffer from mild asthama, as it may begin to strengthen the lungs and teach the body how to breathe accurately. Vinyasa is on the mild side of being very active, which is ideal for waking up and warming the body.
Iyengar yoga is a style mainly for learning proper alignment and reducing pressure in certain areas. The poses are generally held for a long period of time, up to about five minutes or so at the longest. The idea is that even though the stretch may be painful at first, given time the body will relax into it and surrender to the pose. Iyengar yogic style is a great addition for athletes, especially runners and gymnasts, who want to deepen flexibility and counter any tightness from overexerting a muscle group.
Hot yoga is essentially vinyasa flow yoga preformed in a room of 95 degrees and up. Developed by Bikram Choudhury, there are 26 basic poses (although not all teachers may adhere to this particular series set). The main idea is to produce an extreme sweating effect, which will assist in detoxifying the body at a much higher rate than normal and the heat will also make the muscles pliable like putty. Mr. Choudhury has been in the spotlight for many scandals regarding his unique personality flaws, general outlandish attitude, and his spending. This yoga style is as controversial as it's creator, but is worth trying at least once. Do not do hot yoga is you have preexisting heart conditions or high blood pressure.