Yoga is becoming increasingly popular in the United States with studios popping up all over, each of them offering a little different approach to the ancient practice, but it can be a little confusing and intimidating if you do not know what you are walking into and exactly how it will benefit you.
There are many different styles of yoga that you will see advertised, but here are a few of the most popular:
Hatha yoga is gentle and slow paced. The purpose of practicing this type of yoga is for meditation, breathing and relaxation techniques. This is great for beginners.
Vinyasa covers the basic poses of yoga that synchronizes with the breath. This yoga builds on Hatha yoga and is a great for beginners as well as advanced practitioners. It helps to increase strength, tones the body (specifically the abdominals) and helps improve flexibility.
Ashtanga yoga has a metaphorical focus on the eight limbs. It is very fast pace and incorporates more push-ups and lunges for the more advanced yogis.
Lyengar yoga has a main focus of body alignment and will use props in order to strengthen the body. The poses are often held for long periods of time requiring great determination and strength.
Bikram yoga is traditional known as hot yoga. It is a series of twenty six postures that are performed in a heated room of ninety-five to one-hundred degrees. The heat allows for a more intense practice, loosening of the muscles and increase in detoxification.
The physical health benefits of practicing yoga include increase in strength and flexibility while toning the body to give you long lean muscles. It will also help to reduce the incidence of injuries such as neck, back and knee pain.
The mental health benefits include deeper relaxation and meditation as well as a decrease in anxiety and a greater sense of self.
Medical health benefits include a decrease in the risk for heart disease, type II diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.
Yoga is a great way to calm your mind and become one with your body. Many yoga schools will incorporate each of these into their classes, to find out which class would be best for you, talk to the instructor and do not be afraid to push yourself a little.