As a seasoned yogi, I always find it entertaining when someone looks down upon the practice of yoga as a work out. “Oh, you just do yoga?” They say, as though it isn’t a full body work out and I don’t leave my studio literally dripping in sweat after every class.
Not all yoga is so intense. And not all yoga is just stretching. When trying on different types of yoga, it’s important to know what you’re getting yourself into– and to know what you’re looking for.
Here are 4 of the most common types of yoga out there right now, and what to expect when trying them on:
Hatha: Hatha yoga is a slower paced yoga focused on postures and breathing. There will be some standing work and definitely a lot of yummy floor work. You’ll get an incredible stretch in this class, and also some excellent breathing techniques that will help you off your mat as well. A typical class burns 189 calories.
Bikram: Bikram yoga is a set of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises. There isn’t flow– so there’s little cardio work here, but trust me, it’s a work out. Each real “Bikram” class goes through the same series of poses, and even uses the same script– written by Bikram himself. It is always practiced in a room heated to 105°F with a humidity of 40%. The heat definitely gets some getting used to, but it is so beneficial. Make sure you come prepared with a hand towel, and a towel to put on your mat, that thing gets so slippery! The heat serves to warm up your muscles and you get so much more out of the practice. In a typical class, you can burn 475 calories.
Vinyasa: Vinyasa means “breath synchronized movement” and in this class you’re asked to flow through a sequence of postures using your breath. As there is a flow through the postures, vinyasa yoga is a power yoga. You generally hold poses for a lesser amount of time, but you get the benefit of a cardio work out as well. A lot of studios will offer vinyasa classes in a heated room. These classes are an incredible work out– and you leave the class in a puddle of your own sweat. I find there is no better feeling than that. In a typical class you will burn upwards of 600 calories.
Anusara: Ansura is a newer yoga, founded in 1997. It combines a vinyasa style class with the spiritual aspects of Hatha yoga. It’s a great way to get a good work out while also getting the more meditative and spiritual aspects of yoga. You’ll leave feeling more connected to your body, and probably a little warm and fuzzy. A typical class burns about 595 calories.
Finding what is best for you may take some time. Honestly, it may even depend on the day. Some times my body craves a Hatha or a restorative class– I mean really craves it. But other times I can go weeks only doing Vinyasa classes and really getting my sweat on.
[Lead image via Deklofenak/Shutterstock]