How to Find the Right Type of Yoga Style
As you look for ways to stay active inside of your home over the winter, yoga can be such a useful and positive activity. What makes yoga so great is how adaptable it is to your physical abilities and how little equipment you need to get started. But did you know that there are a variety of yoga styles to choose from? Each of them has a slightly different focus, which can cater to your physical or spiritual needs. Certain forms of yoga are more beneficial to seniors than others.
We’ll go through some of the more popular types of yoga, explain how they work and why it might or might not be right for you. If you’re new to yoga, make sure you speak with your doctor before jumping into any of these yoga styles. You always want to be sure you’re improving your health, not injuring it in any way.
The most popular styles of yoga to bring into practice
As you’ll see as we go through this list, some yoga is more geared to the physical while others are more spiritual in practice. You’ll also notice that some forms of yoga are better for beginners, while others are more suited for the experienced yogi. We’ll make some suggestions on which styles we think are best for seniors, but that decision is always up to you.
Kundalini yoga is probably one of the most balanced forms of yoga. It incorporates both spiritual and physical aspects of the practice and is all about releasing the energy that is said to be trapped in your lower spine.
The word vinyasa broadly translates into “to place a special way.” When looked at through the lens of yoga, vinyasa is much more physical than the other forms of yoga. There’s more emphasis on the poses and requires a certain degree of athleticism. That doesn’t mean you should be intimidated. It just means that you should be prepared for a real workout.
Hatha is really a term that is meant to represent any kind of physical yoga. By this logic, Vinyasa is a type of Hatha yoga. Again, the focus is on movement, strength and incorporating aspects of athleticism into the poses.
Ashtanga yoga is not the best type of yoga for beginners. The movements are choreographed, and you’ll often find groups coming together (when that was a thing) doing the movements, though all at their own pace. There is a series of standing and floor postures that are relatively demanding, so save this for when you become more experienced.
Yin yoga is all about meditation and stillness. The postures in yin yoga are held for longer durations of time with a focus on breathing with the intention of encouraging inner peace. This is a great form of yoga for if you’re trying to wind down after a long day or start your day in a peaceful place.
Iyengar yoga forces you to focus on the details. Your breathing, the movements and the way you move in and out of poses are all important in Iyengar. If you’re looking to ease into yoga and want a more relaxed experience, then this is the right fit.
Bikram yoga is the foundation of what is now hot yoga. Bikram incorporates a series of 26 postures repeated twice that is meant to be done in an artificially hotter than normal climate. Hot yoga classes have become popular, and although you likely won’t be able to replicate the heat at home, you can still get something out of completing the movements.
Power yoga is letting you know right off the bat what it’s all about. It’s physically demanding without the attention given to preciseness and pace of movement as some of the others we’ve mentioned. What also makes power yoga appealing is that it is not a set of specific movements. Instructors get to include whatever poses they want, which usually makes for a fun class.
Sivananda yoga is great because it starts off with breathing and relaxations before moving into a more physical form of yoga. Participating in a sivananda yoga class means you’ll be going through the 12 asanas. These asanas are meant to help increase both strength and flexibility in the spine.
You can breathe easy when practicing restorative yoga. It’s all about easing your body into stretches and holding those poses for minutes at a time. The focus is on breathing, comfort and is done at a much slower pace than most other forms of yoga. This is great if you want more spiritual benefits from yoga rather than the physical.
Prenatal yoga is a kind of yoga that can be utilized in preparation for childbirth. As a participant, you’ll be focused on breathing, stretching and centering your thoughts. It’s also not exclusive to pregnant mothers and is said to help with back pain and nausea.
Aerial yoga is an adventure. Instead of using a mat, you’ll be using a silk hammock. You’ll still be doing many of the basic poses—cow, camel, squats and warrior pose — but using the hammock instead of the mat reduces the stress on your shoulders and spine. While this form of yoga is reserved for ambitious and experienced yogi, it’s something to consider as you grow in your practice.
If you’re worried about doing yoga all alone or don’t want to exclude your partner, why not try couples yoga. It’s a form of yoga specifically designed to be done with a partner. It can build trust and intimacy by forcing you to rely on your significant other to keep up with the moves. Plus, it’s usually fun to have someone you love helping you get healthy.
What types of yoga are best for seniors?
Good question. As you can see, there are all types of different yoga practices that have either broad or specific applications. Depending on your body type, goals, and general health, some yoga forms are better suited for seniors. You’ll ultimately need to make that decision and communicate with a doctor, particularly if you’re planning on trying a more physical kind of yoga. But once you’ve made the decision that you’d like to at least try yoga, here are some styles you can start with.
We did a full article on chair yoga. It’s essentially conventional yoga with most traditional poses, the only difference being you’ll be supported by a chair. This is great for seniors with mobility issues, chronic pain or for those who have trouble standing for long periods of time.
The slower pace and focus on holding poses rather than trying to rush through them make restorative yoga suitable for seniors. You can go at your own pace, concentrate on your breathing and gain a much more spiritual experience with restorative yoga.
Iyengar yoga is another relaxed kind of yoga that eases you into poses. Again, the focus is on breathing and focusing on the details of the movement. It can be for beginners, but you can still keep up with Iyengar yoga when you’ve become more experienced.
Vinyasa is one of the more physical forms of yoga, which is a good thing. Sometimes, you want to challenge yourself and get sweaty and aren’t necessarily looking for a spiritual or laid back experience. If you’re up to the challenge, then go for it.
Yin yoga is pretty much the opposite of vinyasa yoga. Yin yoga is about meditation, stillness and breathing through the poses in an effort to find inner peace. There will always be physical aspects in any form of yoga, but yin yoga is for the spiritual and meditative peeps.
Slow yoga reduces the number of transitions but keeps up a steady flow. It gives you time between poses to breathe, take your time and centre your mind before moving on to the next pose. This is a great physical/meditative combination of yoga. Try it if you feel like things are moving too fast and you need to slow your mind down.
Functional yoga is not a style of yoga. It’s an approach that you can apply to any style of yoga you choose to do. What functional yoga recognizes is that not everyone is built the same way, physically or otherwise. So, whatever yoga style you do should be approached with goals that are specific to your makeup rather than comparative to what you think your body or mind should be able to do.
How to choose which yoga is best for you
This is a tricky one. First, you need to do an intake on your health, then consult with your doctor and let them know you’re thinking of getting into yoga. They’ll be able to provide you with a baseline for what they think is possible given your current physical state. After that, it’s really about what you want to get out of yoga.
Most of the types of yoga practices we mentioned are possible, particularly those we designated for seniors. But you have to understand where you are physically and mentally and where you want to get to. It’s probably a good idea to try more than one of these yoga styles. Figure out which one you enjoy most or which is most in line with your goals. The intention is a huge part of yoga, so being purposeful about how you approach getting into it is something you should definitely be mindful of.
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