Alert
People stretch at yoga class People stretch at yoga class

4 common types of yoga

Posted: JUL 18, 2022

Yoga is a mind-body practice. It involves breathing exercises, meditation, and moving your body. It began as a spiritual practice in ancient India. Today, many people practice yoga to benefit their overall health. It can help with pain relief, depression management, and even quitting smoking.1 There are many different styles of yoga. Some styles are relaxing — while others can be more challenging. Depending on your goals, you may want a style that offers specific benefits. Here are 4 types of yoga to try and how they can benefit your mind and body.

 

Hatha

Hatha is an umbrella term for several styles of yoga. Many popular classes taught in Western society fall under this category. Hatha is generally slow and gentle. It involves moving into various poses and holding them for several breaths. Common hatha poses include Mountain Pose (Tadasana) and Child’s Pose (Balasana).

Hatha yoga can improve posture, strengthen the core, and encourage mindfulness. It can also boost the immune system and help reduce symptoms of menopause.2,3

A hatha yoga class is usually a good fit for a beginner. It’s also a good practice for pregnant people and seniors.

 

Vinyasa

Vinyasa has fast, constant movement where you “flow” between poses. While in hatha yoga you might hold a pose for a minute or longer, in vinyasa yoga, you hold poses for a shorter time. The Cat (Marjaryasana) pose and Cow (Bitilasana) pose are often used in this style.

Vinyasa yoga is good for improving strength, muscle tone, and endurance, as well as balance. Research has also shown that vinyasa yoga can lower cholesterol levels.4

It’s a more aggressive workout than hatha and is even considered a form of aerobic activity. So, it’s a great option if you’re looking for a more intense workout or if you’re an experienced yogi. If you’re new to vinyasa, remember that it may take time to master the pace.

 

Ashtanga

Ashtanga yoga shares similarities with vinyasa. It’s performed at a fast pace and features a constant flow of movements. However, while vinyasa is more improvised, in ashtanga yoga you do a series of poses in a set order. It often starts with sun salutation poses, and then moves into a mix of sitting and standing poses.

Ashtanga yoga can be challenging, and is helpful in improving strength and endurance.

This type of yoga is a good choice for athletes looking for a new way to work on their stamina and balance.

 

Hot yoga

Hot yoga is any type of yoga done in a heated room. It’s not the same as Bikram yoga, which involves 26 set positions and is done at a specific temperature. The temperature, humidity, and poses in hot yoga can vary depending on the class. Temperatures typically range from 80 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

The heat can loosen muscles, which can help improve flexibility. You may find you’re able to get a greater range of motion, too. Plus, it makes the cardiovascular system work hard as it tries to cool your body down.5

Hot yoga can be difficult for beginners. So, remember to drink lots of water and take your time to get comfortable with this style. You may want to avoid hot yoga if you’re pregnant, or have asthma or heart disease.6,7

 

Staying active to support your total health

Practicing yoga can be a great addition to your self-care routine. Staying active supports your physical health, and can also benefit your mental health.

1“Yoga: What You Need To Know,” National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, accessed June 2, 2022.

2Komal Shah et al., “Yoga, Immunity and COVID-19,” Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care, May 2022.

3Neda Sharifi et al., “The Effects of Yoga on Quality of Life Among Postmenopausal Women: A Systematic Review Study,” Post Reproductive Health, November 13, 2021.

4Milad Azami et al., “Effect of Yoga on Lipid Profile,” International Journal of Preventative Medicine, May 17, 2019.

5Kelsey Bourbeau et al., “Cardiovascular, Cellular, and Neural Adaptations to Hot Yoga versus Normal,” International Journal of Yoga, May 10, 2021.

6Nicholas Ravanelli et al., “Heat Stress and Fetal Risk,” British Journal of Sports Medicine, July 2019.

7Casey Mace Firebaugh et al., “Pre-existing Health Conditions and the Risk of Injury from Hot Yoga,” Spotlight on Research, February 12, 2021.

Explore mental health and wellness resources

Choose from a broad range of on-demand self-care resources designed to support a healthy state of mind.