Yoga | Ashtanga, Bikram, Iyengar, Hatha, Vinyasa

Let's take the confusion out of practicing yoga with this quick guide.

Quick Guide to Ashtanga Yoga

Practicing yoga can help you live a more peaceful life. In our chaotic world even our daily schedule can get overwhelming at times.

If you need a way to decompress and to get back in touch with yourself, yoga may be your answer.

 Different Types of Yoga

There are several forms or types of yoga, including Bikram, Hatha, Iyengar, Vinyasa and Ashtanga yoga to name a few of the more popular ones; in this article, we focus on the classical Ashtanga (not to be confused with Ashtanga Vinyasa or Power Yoga). This type of yoga consists of three series of poses: Primary, Intermediate and Advanced. While each series consists of a different set of poses, they all have two things in common: starting with the Sun Salutations, before moving to the first set in the series, and ending with back-bending, shoulder stand, headstand and the lotus.

The Sun Salutation

Sun Salutation series consists of eighteen poses that purify the body and restore health, along with preparing the body for the Primary series, also known as Yoga Chilkitsa or Yoga Therapy. From the Sun Salutation series, up to 75 different standing poses can be performed, depending on the routine developed by your instructor. Performing the total array takes around 1 ½ to 2 hours. The intent of the Primary Series is to prepare the body for the more difficult seated poses which follow next.

The Seated Poses

These poses require more concentration and coordination than other types of poses, if done correctly. They start out with the Dandasana pose where your legs are out in front of you. This is followed by three forward bend poses and a reverse plank. While the forward bends stretch out your back, the reverse plank stretches out the front of your body. Each series of poses are meant to build on the previous set. The workout ends with the Corpe Pose, signifying total relaxation of the body and mind.

The Need for Deep Breathing

Another element of Ashtanga is deep breathing called thoraco-diphragmatic breathing. By inhaling deeply, oxygen gets to parts of the body that are normally devoid of oxygen under normal breathing conditions. Forceful exhalation, by using the diaphragm, pulls the toxins out of the body with the outgoing air, thus detoxifying and restoring it to its original healthy state. This type of yoga not only develops your body by concentrating on aligning your spine, detoxifying and building stamina and flexibility, it also develops a healthy mind by increasing the awareness of your body.

Beginners Yoga Class

Good advice when you want to take a beginners yoga class.

By now, you’re already aware that there are different poses and styles of yoga that you can practice. In preparing yourself for a beginners yoga class, it’s important to know which type you’d like to do and what you want to happen. You need to know your fitness goals and keep them to heart so that you’ll also know what poses or styles are good for you.

Here’s a quick introduction to the different styles consisting of the most common and popular types of yoga that can be incorporated in a beginners yoga class.

Popular Types of Yoga in a Beginners Yoga Class.

  • Bikram Yoga – Start yourself with this very hot yoga stance. With 26 poses, you’ll have many opportunities to work on the alignment of your body. This is a very good style for beginners.
  • Hatha Yoga – This is what we’re focused on in this guide and the accompanying videos. Hatha Yoga focuses on slow and gentle movements. This provides many very relaxing poses that are good for getting a good night’s sleep.
  • Vinyasa Yoga – Also known as the “Vinyasa Flow” or just plain “Flow.” This entails move from one pose to another effortlessly, like the wind. Along with Hatha Yoga, this is one the most popular styles of yoga in America.
  • Kundalini Yoga – Kundalini comes from the energy of the root Chakra, which surrounds the area around our lower spines. This hits your core area, and classes should be pretty intense. Great for lower and upper torso toning. Note, however, that there is plenty of controversy associated with Kundalini yoga, particularly because of the way it strives to unleash or awaken the “coiled serpent power” at the base of the spine. This type of yoga has been promoted more for spiritual purposes, rather than for fitness goals.
  • Ashtanga Yoga – This is also known as the “Power Yoga.” This style is physically demanding and requires a highly reverential attitude concerning the poses. This is often preferred by people who want to push their bodies to their limits.
  • Iyengar Yoga – This style uses a lot of props, from: blocks, harnesses, cushions, straps, and so much more. A great focus is emphasized on the alignment of your body, which makes this also great for physical therapy.
  • Anusara Yoga – This is characterized by back bends, and is dependent on directions coming from the instructor of the class.
  • Restorative Yoga – Would you like to unwind after a long day of work? Some peace of mind? This style focuses on deep breathing and relaxation.
  • Jivamukti Yoga – This has very strong and obvious Eastern influences. It features a mix of “Flow” sequencing that is infused with a lot of chanting and a focus on a vegetarian diet advocacy.
  • Prenatal Yoga – This is great for all excited mommies-to-be. A lot of people agree that this is the best type of exercise for expecting mothers, because it concentrates more on the core and breathing techniques, which are very reliable aids in giving birth.

When choosing to participate in a beginners yoga class, make sure that you understand the goals of the class before you sign up, to avoid any conflict with your own goals. Remember also that while a structured class ambiance could be helpful for absolute beginners, it is also possible to learn and practice in the comfort of your own home.

That’s what we’ll be discussing in the next article titled “Learn Yoga at Home” and before starting go get your subscription to the Newsletter to get the free set of Hatha Yoga videos. These videos will be of great value for doing yoga exercise at home without having to join a beginners yoga class.