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7 Types of Yoga for All Levels

woman rolling yoga mat

Yoga is a popular practice that can encompass physical, mental and spiritual elements. Many varieties of yoga exist, so no matter your needs you’ll probably find a class to meet them! It’s a myth that you need to be able to bend into a pretzel to practice yoga. Fact is, different types of yoga vary in how challenging (and spiritual) they are. For the most part, yoga instructors will happily help adjust poses that are too hard for you to tackle.

Don’t let intimidation hold you back. Yoga yields a host of research-backed benefits that may improve your quality of life. This list includes:

  • Increased muscle strength
  • Increase flexibility
  • Better respiratory and cardiovascular function
  • Reduced stress, depression, addiction
  • Less chronic pain
  • Improved sleep
  • Improved mood

Yoga is meant for people from all levels. To help you determine a good practice for you, here are seven common yoga practices and their approximate level of difficulty. Keep in mind there are way more yoga styles than this so go explore!

1. RESTORATIVE YOGA

Also, known as “yin yoga,” restorative yoga is slower paced and an easy way to soothe tight muscles. This type of yoga usually calls for bolsters, blankets and blocks to help you ease slowly and deeply into a relaxing pose. This style of yoga may be more beneficial for beginners, who may need more help with their flexibility.

Difficulty Level: Easy

2. GENTLE YOGA

Like the name suggests, gentle yoga is good for those who want a practice that is gentler on their body. Gentle yoga is similar to restorative yoga where you hold a pose for several minutes instead of moving swiftly through downward dogs and planks. If you have trouble touching your toes, gentle yoga is a good place to start.

Difficulty Level: Easy

3. VINYASA YOGA

“Vinyasa” refers to a group of yoga practices that coordinates breathing and movement as you flow from one pose to another. Other yoga practices that fall under this umbrella are ashtanga, jivamukti, power yoga and prana flow. If you want a lot of movement from your yoga class, vinyasa may be for you.

Difficulty Level: Intermediate to Hard (depends on instructor)

4. POWER YOGA

Power yoga can also be referred to as “gym yoga.” It’s focused on giving you a good workout, sweat and all! Most power yoga classes tend to move quickly and incorporates moves that cause you to lift and hold your body weight. This type of yoga is less about flexibility and more about strength, and can be a good workout for someone who wants more resistance exercise in their life.

Difficulty level: Intermediate to Hard (depends on instructor)

5. HOT YOGA

Also known as “Bikram yoga,” hot yoga is practiced in a room heated to 105.8 degrees F at 40% humidity. This style of yoga was originally created by Bikram Choudhury and features a set of breathing exercise and poses performed in a 90-minute class. The high temperature is supposed to help you sweat out impurities and improve your flexibility. Bikram yoga can feel very intense, especially since most of us are not used to exercising in a sweltering hot room. Hot yoga can be a good option for folks who need to up the ante on their yoga routine.

Difficulty Level: Hard

6. ASHTANGA YOGA

Ashtanga yoga is an intense, quick paced yoga practice that is popularized by Pattabhi Jois. It involves a set sequence of poses practiced in the same order, so oftentimes the instructor may not spend as much time demonstrating. The upside is that he/she will walk around the room to adjust your pose. The downside is that you may want to have your sun salutations memorized. You should try ashtanga yoga if you like order and repetition and want a yoga challenge! If you’re new, steer clear of “mysore style,” a subclass of ashtanga yoga that is completely self-led.

Difficulty Level: Hard

7. AERIAL YOGA

This relatively new yoga-trend emerged from New York as a form of anti-gravity yoga. Aerial yoga involves moving through poses while suspended from a soft, fabric hammock. Depending on your background, this may sound fun or really intimidating. If you’re interested, look for a good, supportive instructor in your area. This type of practice can be good for yoga diehards who want a new and different challenge.

Difficulty Level: Hard

3 ONLINE YOGA CLASSES YOU CAN ATTEND IN YOUR LIVING ROOM

If you live in a major metropolitan area, you can find yoga classes at most major gyms and small studios. For those who have a difficult time finding a yoga class that works for them, here are three online yoga programs you can attend in the comfort of your living room:

  1. Yogaglo – This online yoga subscription program is $18 per month. It allows you access to unlimited videos so you can practice as much as you want whenever you feel like it.
  2. Yoga International – For $14.99 per month you can stream as many yoga sessions as you want. You can filter the videos by duration, level, style and even your favorite instructor.
  3. Gaia – You can preview videos for free and choose from three different subscription plans. Your first month starts at $0.99 and then it’s $10 monthly after that.

Of course, it’s very hard to beat “free.” If you don’t mind ads, Do Yoga with Me is another good option.

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