Yoga Styles Decoded
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As much as I love to exercise because of how it makes me look better, it also makes me feel better. The benefits of exercise go far beyond the body and extend into every aspect of our lives—psychological, spiritual, professional, and personal. When I feel body confident, it also makes me feel confident in other areas, too!

Yoga has always been a huge part of my fitness routine. In general, yoga is tremendous for improved balance, flexibility, fertility, depression, and the list goes on. While some forms aren’t as physically demanding, other forms definitely are. Whatever you prefer, there is a yoga style for everyone.

If you’re thinking about getting into yoga or want to try a different style, here are some popular classes that can be found at most yoga studios. All are just as equally beneficial to your mind, body, and soul!

Power Yoga

Merges several styles of yoga, is physically demanding, and concentrates on strength building and flexibility. You’ll encounter longer holds and warmer rooms. It can vary greatly from studio to studio and instructor to instructor.

Vinyasa Flow

Kind of a potpourri class, focusing on flowing, continuous movement rather than long holds. It’s very aerobic and focuses on breathing techniques.

Iyengar

You might only do four or five poses per class, but the focus is on the precision and correct body and breath alignment. Although, it’s very technical, Iyengar is a great choice for beginners, or for those with injuries, because teachers encourage the use of props, such as bolsters, pillows, straps, and blocks, to help with alignment and support.

Bikram (Or Hot Yoga) 

My personal favorite! Bikram is the set of the same twenty-six yoga postures. The postures never change (it’s copy-written) so you know what you’re getting every time. Practiced in a hot room, you leave feeling absolutely detoxed.

Ashtanga

Another very aerobic style of yoga. It’s similar to Bikram (hot yoga) in that it has a series of set sequences (rather than poses). The room is likely warm (not hot) and all the movements flow together to heat up the body and produce a detoxifying sweat.

Restorative Yoga

Almost all studios offer a restorative class. You do very few poses, most supported by props, and the poses are held for a long time. The focus is placed on calming the central nervous system. This is a great choice for those looking to reduce anxiety and relax body and mind.

Prenatal Yoga

Despite it’s name, prenatal yoga is good pre-pregnancy, during pregnancy, and post-pregnancy. It, of course, focuses on postures that women who are pregnant can do. You can go to a class and don’t have to worry about modifying anything. Classes concentrate on helping reduce the discomforts of pregnancy, in addition to preparing the body for labor and motherhood. It also focuses on relaxation, deep breathing, and meditation. Calm mind and body equals a calm baby.

If you’re a rookie, my advice is to take a few classes first and consult the instructor to make sure you understand the proper alignment of each pose. Luckily, most studios offer weekly free or donation-only community classes. If you would like to try first at home, there are plenty of online programs with top instructors to guide you through. DoYogaWithMe.com and YogaGlo.com are a few examples!

For a more in-depth look at standard yoga poses, check out my 13 “yogalicious” favorites to try at home.

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Actress, model, active humanitarian, & Mom! Author of 'Everyday Chic'.