When I took my first hot yoga class over seven years ago, I was a hopeful couch potato looking for an “easy way to get in shape.” As I sweated it out in downward dog I said to myself, “I can’t do this, I’m not strong enough.” And so after that first class I gave up for a while. I went back to my couch potato ways and complained about my beer belly. But something called me back…
One class turned into two, two classes turned into four and before I knew it I had fallen in love with hot yoga. But hot yoga isn’t for everyone.
Everyone has a yoga style that they prefer. For some it might be power yoga, for others it may be gentle yoga. What’s your yoga style?
Here are 5 yoga styles you should try at least once:
1. Iyengar Yoga
Named after and developed by B. K. S. Iyengar, the Godfather of modern yoga, this Hatha Yoga form emphasizes detail, precision and alignment in the asana and breath control (pranayama). The first time I took an Iyengar style vinyasa class was in New York City at the Om Factory in Mid-town. It was amazing to really go into a posture and realize the way it really is supposed to feel. I left feeling invigorated and inspired.
2. Hatha Yoga:
In yoga, Hatha is more of an umbrella term to encompass all yoga practices. Nowadays, if you sign up for a hatha yoga class, you can expect slow pace asanas (poses), breathing, and meditation. You will connect with your body, mind, and spirit. The word “Hatha” comes from the Sanskrit “ha,” or sun, and “tha,” meaning moon. Therefore the “principle behind Hatha is uniting pairs of opposites: the positive and the negative, the sun and the moon.”
3. Hot Yoga:
Hot yoga refers to any yoga that is practiced in a heated venue. In general, you can expect a hot yoga class to last about an hour and fifteen minutes and the room to be heated to about 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Bring a towel and some water, because you will sweat! Some people love hot yoga and some people hate it. Either way, you should try it more than once. For me, it took a while to get used to it but when I realize how much tension this practice released from my muscles, I kept coming back for more. The heated room allows you to go deeper into a posture and move more fluidly. Plus your body looks pretty hot after a continued practice.
4. Aerial Yoga
How about yoga upside down? The newest yoga style to take over the country is aerial yoga. You are lifted on a trapeze suspender where you can perform inversions and backbends under the guidance of a certified instructor. These movements are a great way to release tension while also working your upper-body strength. What’s more, is you feel graceful and light as air. Lots of aerial yoga studios are popping up around the country. If you want to feel like Batman (or Super Woman) for the night, give aerial yoga a try.
5. Kundalini Yoga
The first time I tried Kundalini yoga I came home and wrote this poem that just poured out of my heart. It had been years since I wrote a poem, but it just came flowing out of me. Kundalini is known as, “the yoga of awareness,” and concentrates on breathing (pranayama), poses (asanas), chanting, and meditation to awaken the kundalini energy that exists in all of us. It was brought to the United States in 1969 by a man named Yogi Bhajan, a wise spiritual teacher from India.
There are so many styles of yoga. If you tried one and you didn’t enjoy it, just try again. You might find a style you really like!