If you’re looking for an alternative exercise system that can enhance your physical fitness while also improving your mental health at the same time, then Yoga may be perfect for you. Yoga is a popular form of exercise based on ancient Indian teachings and philosophy, dating as far back as 5000 years ago. It employs specific body postures or “asanas” to tone your muscles and increase your overall flexibility. It also utilizes focused breathing exercises to centre yourself emotionally and mentally, which can help reduce stress and anxiety.
That being said, it’s a good idea to figure out in advance which yoga discipline is right for you. Just like with any other type of exercise system, there are different yoga disciplines, each with its unique characteristics, difficulty, and intensity level. Some yoga disciplines may also require you to have prior experience in other yoga techniques to be able to keep up. As such, it’s best to read up on the different types of yoga disciplines before signing up for a yoga class. Otherwise, you may not get the most out of your workout.
To help you in this regard, the following is a list of the main types of yoga disciplines that you can explore today in your neighbourhood yoga Prahran club or any other yoga studio close to your home in Melbourne.
Hatha Yoga is what is known as the “mother” of all Yoga and a great entry-level yoga discipline for novices. Besides involving a wide variety of static and dynamic asanas, it also has a much slower pace than other disciplines. The simplicity in the breathing exercises used in Hatha Yoga also makes it ideal for the beginner who is unaccustomed to thinking about how they breathe in their exercise routines. Since this particular discipline can be considered an introduction to Yoga, don’t expect to be pushed to your physical limits, or even break a sweat during a session. What you can count on, however, is to experience a kind of physical flexibility and mental relaxation that may be quite new to you, especially if this is your first encounter with yoga.
Much like Hatha Yoga, Yin Yoga is a yoga discipline that is generally slow and relaxed in terms of pace. What distinguishes the latter from the former is how Yin Yoga focuses on improving the flexibility and mobility mainly of your lower body, namely your hips, pelvis, and lower spine. As such, the majority of yin yoga asanas are made from a seated position and held for long periods. This allows gravity to do much of the work in exerting gentle pressure to the connective tissues in your lower body. All this makes Yin Yoga another great discipline to start your yoga journey with.
Yin Yoga is also perfect for individuals who regularly practice intense cardiovascular and strength-based training, as the added flexibility and mobility can help prevent injuries common in such activities.
Vinyasa Yoga is one of the more vigorous and physically demanding disciplines of yoga. Commonly referred to as “Power Flow” Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga involves smoothly transitioning from one asana to the next in time with your breathing—and with a dance-like pace and rhythm. The asanas in Vinyasa Yoga are also specifically selected so that the individual can smoothly flow through them continuously and seamlessly; again, resembling a dance. The result is a yoga class that enhances your physical and mental focus in a challenging but also creative fashion.
Since this yoga discipline demands a faster and more active pace, it is recommended that you gain experience in beginner disciplines first before signing up for a Vinyasa Yoga class.
In contrast to Vinyasa Yoga, Yoga Nidra is a yoga discipline that focuses more on the calming and relaxing side of yoga rather than its athletic or flexibility-enhancing aspect. Yoga Nidra starts with you sitting in a dim, candle-lit room, with only the instructor’s verbal cues to follow. You will be then coaxed into the five-stage process of relaxation, where you will meditate on your breathing, balance your emotional states, draw your focus inward, and perform other mind-clearing activities. All this results in a rejuvenating experience that is peaceful and restful, something that many of us need in our hectic lives. Whether you’re a beginner to yoga or an expert enthusiast, you should never turn down the chance to sign up for a Yoga Nidra class.
Another beginner-friendly yoga discipline is Iyengar Yoga. Iyengar Yoga involves the use of yoga props, such as blocks, blankets, straps, chairs, walls, and bolters to ensure that the student’s form is precise and correct. While this yoga discipline may sound physically exacting and intense, it’s gentler than you think, enough that it can even be taken up by those who have recently suffered an injury. The challenge comes from being able to hold the asanas for a long time, but with the help of the yoga props, it’s a test of your mental endurance more than anything else.
The Right Yoga for You
There are many other types of yoga disciplines aside from the ones listed above, but these are the most common that you will encounter. Since each one is quite distinct from the others, it’s recommended that you check which yoga discipline your local studio, gym, or club is offering before signing up. This will allow you to enjoy the physical and mental health benefits that yoga offers in a way that fits your current fitness and endurance levels.