Always wanted to try yoga but don’t know where to start? This guide will help you choose a yoga type that’s right for you.
Here in Singapore, yoga is more popular than ever. New studios continue to pop up all over the island, including the heartlands. Even gyms offer yoga as part of their repertoire of fitness classes.
It’s easy to see its appeal. Unlike other types of exercise, yoga does a lot more than burning calories and toning muscles. The combination of physical poses, controlled breathing and meditation or relaxation make it a complete mind-body workout.
So yes, doing yoga is going to make your body stronger, but it’ll also reduce stress and calm your mind. Current research, including a study published in the journal Frontiers, supports the positive effects yoga has on the central nervous system.
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A regular yoga practice also promotes better sleep, improves flexibility, and reduces your risk of developing heart disease and hypertension, amongst its many benefits.
Want to reap the benefits of yoga? Find a style you love so that you’ll be more likely to stick to it. With so many types out there, we’ve put together a guide to help you choose one that suits your personality.
P.S. There’s no rule that says you can only practise one type of yoga. If more than one style below resonates with you, try them all. Happy stretching!
(Also read: Wrist-Strengthening Exercises For Pain-Free Yoga)
If you’re a traditionalist, go for hatha yoga
Many modern styles of yoga are derived from hatha yoga. A typical hatha class is moderately paced, with a focus on breathing and classic postures like downward facing dog and chair pose. Teachers often weave in many alignment cues, which is perfect for those new to yoga. While hatha yoga classes tend to be no-frills, they help you build a solid foundation for a long-term yoga practice.
If you love routines, go for ashtanga yoga
Ashtanga yoga follows a set sequence of poses. Movements are linked closely to the breath, and each pose is held for five breaths. Classes are either led by a teacher or done Mysore style. In a Mysore style class, students practise at their own pace while the teacher observes and gives adjustments where appropriate.
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If you have a short attention span, go for vinyasa yoga
Vinyasa yoga has similarities to ashtanga yoga. Like ashtanga, movements are synchronised with the breath. However, there isn’t a fixed sequence. Teachers often come up with creative flows, so you can expect to do something new every time. Vinyasa and ashtanga are dynamic practices, so be prepared to sweat!
If you get stressed easily, go for restorative yoga or yin yoga
Restorative yoga and yin yoga are slower practices that promote deep relaxation. In both types of classes, students hold each pose for at least three to five minutes. A restorative class incorporates props like blankets and blocks, while props may not always be used in a yin class. The main difference is that a restorative class has passive poses from start to end so students feel ultra-comfortable but a yin class requires you to do some work. You’ll use muscular strength to hold yourself in some poses. The long holds stimulate and hydrate the connective tissues in the body.
If you have an adventurous streak, go for aerial yoga
Aerial yoga – also known as anti-gravity and floating yoga – is an unconventional form of yoga. It combines yoga moves and acrobatics in one class. Students do the moves while suspended in mid-air, relying heavily on props like stirrups and hammocks. Supported inversions are a big part of the practice, which is great if you love the idea of going upside down. Challenging and fun, aerial yoga will improve your balance and flexibility, and decompress your spine.
(Also read: The Men in Shape Do Aerial Yoga For The First Time)
If you’re a cardio junkie, go for hot yoga
The temperature in a hot yoga class is between 35 and 40 deg C. The heat will warm up your muscles quickly, allowing you to stretch more deeply in the poses. The heat will also increase your heart rate and force you to work harder. As a result, you’ll get a sweaty heart-pumping workout that’s almost cardio-like. Hot yoga also boosts your metabolism and promotes weight loss.
(Also read: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Yoga)