What kind of exercise decreases your blood pressure, normalises your weight, improves mood and subjective wellbeing, and even increases Vitamin C concentrations inside your body? Why of course it’s yoga! Yoga is a wonderful form of exercise that has become increasingly embraced as a great way to exercise one’s body and unite it with the mind and spirit.
Indeed, there are now various types of yoga classes that have emerged as a result of yoga’s recent revival. The different types of classes cater for different body types, motivations, and skill levels – for example, Bikram Yoga is great for weight loss while Hatha Yoga is better for de-stressing.
If you don’t know your Hatha from your Bikram, and your Iyengar you’re your Ashtanga, here are three types of yoga that we highly rate:
Hatha: the yoga of postures
Although ‘Hatha’ means forceful in Sanskrit, hatha yoga classes, at least in the beginning, are known for being gentle, basic classes akin to a slow-paced stretching class. In essence, Hatha yoga concentrates on the practice of postures and breath control as a way for the individual to achieve a balance between their body and mind.
Hatha yoga differs from most common forms of yoga in that it is based on six rather than the eight limbs of yoga, with a particular focus on the third (Asana) and fourth (Pranayama) steps. If you want to start off gentle and reap benefits such as toning your internal organs, preventing hypertension, and opening up energy channels, Hatha yoga is a clear choice for you.
Bikram: the yoga with heat
If you want to get even more specialised, you might want to try Bikram yoga. Bikram is a system of yoga derived from Hatha yoga by Indian yoga teacher Bikram Choudhury. Popularised from the 1970s, Bikram yoga essentially consists of a series of twenty-six stretching and strengthening postures with two breathing exercises. Sounds easy, right?
The trick is that all this is done in a room ideally heated to 105°F with a humidity of 40%. It’s a worthwhile price to pay though, considering all the benefits. Bikram is scientifically proven to work your whole body, that is, both your regular joints, muscles, and ligaments, and also your internal organs and glands. This is great for anyone looking to lose weight as well, as Bikram Yoga suppresses the appetite.
Anti Gravity: the yoga you’ve never heard of
How can a type of yoga be against gravity? Despite its name, Anti Gravity yoga is actually not as silly as it sounds. Invented by aerial performer and Broadway choreographer Christopher Harrison, Anti Gravity yoga combines with various exercises in Pilates, calisthenics, and aerial acrobatics, all while done in a hammock-like apparatus.
Like normal yoga, Anti Gravity is great for increasing strength and flexibility – and it helps you see the world from a different view. It also has the added bonus of being beneficial for anyone with back issues, as you can hang freely from the hammock, allowing your spine to lengthen. Oh, and it’s lots of fun too! Cirque du Soleil might be calling soon!
Samantha Morris is a university student and freelance writer who is interested in healthy living and taking good care of her body. She’s definitely keen to take a yoga class sometime soon after this festive season to keep in shape!