Your Guide to Yoga

By , By Abigail L. Cuffey, of Woman's Day

Thinking about trying yoga? Smart idea. The benefits of yoga range from better flexibility to less stress. In fact, a recent study found that practicing yoga regularly (once or twice a week) may lower a number of harmful compounds in the blood as well as reduce inflammation linked to aging and stress. Yet starting out in the yoga world can be intimidating because there are so many different styles and types to choose from. Terri Kennedy, MBA, PhD, founder of Ta Yoga in New York City and board member of the Yoga Alliance, breaks down the six main styles to make your choice a little easier.

1. Vinyasa Yoga

A flowing (and active) style that has a lot of variety. There are no set sequences, so each class can be a totally new experience, which teachers can tailor for beginner or advanced yogis. The classic vinyasa sequence starts with the standard 12-position sun salutation, which includes moves such as downward dog, cobra and lunges. To make it more challenging, the teacher may add a warrior pose or two into the middle of the sequence.

Best For: Those who like to dance would find this style appealing, and it is accessible for all levels.

2. Iyengar Yoga

A therapeutic form that focuses on concentration, flexibility and balance. Not necessarily easy, the poses are very specific and focus on alignment. The movements are subtle and do not flow from one to the next. A classic Iyengar pose is the triangle, which is when you stand with legs spread about 3 1/2 feet apart with one hand reaching down toward the same side’s foot and the other hand reaching straight up toward the ceiling. The classes tend to be more directed as well.

Best For: Beginners, seniors and anyone who needs to take it easy due to injury.

3. Kundalini Yoga

It comes from ancient tantric tradition and involves a lot of chanting and rapid repetitive movement. The movements are done in conjunction with very specific breathing techniques. For example, you might hold a bow pose (torso on the floor, both legs bent and hands reach back to hold feet) while doing the rapid Breath of Fire (deep breathing powered by abdominal contractions).

Best For: Those with an open mind (because of the chanting and repetition) who are already trained in the traditional styles. Total beginners might feel a bit uncomfortable in a Kundalini class.

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    I wish our gym had more classes. Report
    I wish our gym had more classes. Report
    I like yoga Report
    I have only done p90x yoga and Jillian Micheal's yoga meltdown. I really like perfecting a pose and holding it. I have thought about taking yoga classes when I retire in a few months. I would be more comfortable with an instructor. I am timid of learning new poses. I have a weak left ankle from any injury a few years back and I have a slight fear of planting and relying only my left leg in a pose that requires this ~ it shakes a good deal. I really think a class would be good for me. Report
    @ MELLYBEANS, try the Internet for short, basic practices ...

    I have had my own invented style of yoga, but it's actually a fusion with pilates. I've sustained two injuries fairly recently due to yoga; so I have had to cut back on intensity. No shame in being at beginner to advanced beginner level for the past 5 years. Many of the online virtual studios cater to people just like me. Although since the Broad article came out, actual trendy big city studios are now running scared (finally!) and losing their bootcamp orientation.

    You want bootcamp, there are actual cardio classes taught in regular fitness like that! And many people know it. Cardio is cardio. MY body tells me that yoga is not cardio but YMMV. The sweat index tells only part of the story ... lol ...

    That said, yoga and not cardio, is my main workout. Will move more in the direction of dance (for cardio) but time is a limited resource with me ...
    I have been doing yoga for about five years and have also trained as a yoga instructor. Recently I have been introduced to Adamantine yoga, a new style that will be officially introduced later this year. ‎Adamantine Yoga is a ritualized breath meditation built around the matrix of 14 sun salutations and 20 yoga postures. Adamantine Yoga offers a comprehensive path for the purpose of self transformation by exploring the full potential of the physical body. The goal of Adamantine Yoga is to provide the individual with a simple but empowering personalized practice that offers the means for True Self realization."
    I now practice this sequence at home 5-6 days a week. I also go to GSP (guided self practice) with a teacher who adjusts and assits as I go through my version of the sequence. It is a very powerful routine, I end up dripping with sweat, feel great afterwards and at age 67 can do 10 regular push-ups. Report
    Many years ago I went to a yoga class and did not enjoy it. I incorporate one or two yoga moves into my stretching routine occasionally. I've been wanting to get more into it but so far haven't found the right tool to teach me. A dvd I borrowed from the library wasn't very good. Report
    I have done Yoga for 30 years since h.s., I do the easier poses and really feel great after each workout. I have several books and also get Yoga magazine. Report
    I tried one yoga class, but have no idea what type. It seemed to focus heavily on lower body strength and some core. It wasn't for me at the time, but I might try a different version at some future time. Report
    I've been doing Iyengar yoga for over 6 years now, averaging 3 practices per week. Report
    I love Vinyasa yoga and I want to a try hot yoga class. Report
    I began doing yoga about 20 months ago when I became eligible for Silver Sneakers. I began with a chair class: poses standing and seated, but not down on the mat. After two months, I moved to a "gentle" class that included standing poses and poses on the mat, but did not use the chair. After a year, my instructor recommended that I train to become an instructor, a process I've been doing with YogaFit. This style of yoga uses more vinyassa than iyengar: the intensity of the flow or the holding of specific poses may range from beginner to advanced, with adjustments suited to each participant in a given class. It also emphasizes wellness over fitness according to the sutras that provide the foundation for yoga practice. As a result of diet and the asanas of practice, I've gone from an overweight, sedentary lifestyle to one that is active and healthful. I've also developed a more balanced sense of "me" that feels both self-accepting and selfless. Report
    I personally love Vinyasa yoga. I've tried Bikram and Kundalini, and neither of those are for me. Well, actually I loved Bikram but I don't have the money to spend on it, unfortunately. I like Vinyasa so much because it really really makes you sweat, and depending on who's instructing you it can incorporate a really great cardio workout, too. I have to do yoga at least once a week, it helps me feel balanced! Report
    I enjoy the Namaste Yoga series. It is challenging (for me) but I always feel like I accomplished something. I'm not sure what "style" that qualifies as, but I guess it doesn't matter either. As long as my body is moving and I feel good when I am done, I am happy. Report
    I do power vinyasa and I love it. I really wish that people, including medical health professionals, would start to recognize that yoga is not just holding a pose. I like the line in the article that says "to make it more active the instructor may add a warrior pose or two". Have you been to a vinyasa class? My instructors add a ton more than just warrior two! A few sets of crow, extended side angle into birds of paradise, lots of horse end up in there too. Not to mention it's 95 degrees in the room too. I'm jello by the end of most classes! Power vinyasa yoga is HARD! And not only that it is a very great workout.

    Yoga will change your life. Report
    I've been doing yoga for over 4 years now. I usually do Hatha yoga. But I've tried vinyasa and Iyengar. I don't like Bikram. it's too uncomfortable for me. I tried yoga late in life because I was one of those folks that thought that yoga was just for stretching. boy, was I wrong ! Yoga has helped me in so many different fitness areas, I can't even begin to count them. Yoga is great.