how do you yoga?

how do you get your yoga on?

what are you looking for when you step on the mat? a totally chilled out, blissed out yin class? a funky flow? is bikram your bag? or do you prefer a little spirituality with your sweat and hit up a jivamukti class?

i ask because i’ve recently found myself cheating on my beloved vinyasa.

ok, not completely.  i still start and end every practice with a flow of some sort, but in the middle i have found myself tossing in some deep yin stretches and holding some powerful poses that amp up the heat. i always adore a powerful practice and have really started to find the beauty (and strength) in holding my poses rather than flowing through them. don’t get me wrong, both produce an amazing stretch and sweat, but my body is enjoying the change of pace. maybe it has to do with the changing seasons or the path in which my life is moving… i’m not quite sure, but i am digging it!

don’t know what floats your yoga boat? or maybe you want to try something new but don’t know where to start? here’s a quickie breakdown of some of the yoga styles you might want to check out:

Anusara

John Friend (awesome name, no?) created this style to be fun and uplifting. it’s not too intense and you won’t be pushed into poses if you’re not feeling them. one really cool part of this practice is that you’re encouraged to express yourself and play in the poses. and who couldn’t use a little more ‘play’ in life?

Iyengar

not sure if you’re doing a pose with the correct alignment? want adjustments? totally focused on building your poses from the ground up? then hit up an Iyengar class. a tip for you – grab blocks, bolsters, straps and any other fun props you can!  this style really concentrates on alignment and use of props is used to help you go deeper into your postures. your teacher will be very focused on your alignment so if you tend to want to “perfect” your poses (from an alignment standpoint) you’ll feel right at home here.

Bikram

some like it hot! and if you’re one of them then definitely hit up your local bikram studio. bikram is a set series of 26 poses, done twice, for a total of 90 minutes. get there early because it’s nice to take some time to “warm up” to the studio, especially if it’s your first time. man, it’s HOT! but you get a great stretch, a good sweat and people who love a little challenge with their yoga will like this class. but, if you’re someone who gets bored easily, you might not like that the series is always the same.

Ashtanga

this practice also focuses on a series of poses, but you grow into each series as you practice more and more. this style mimics a flow class and really brings the cardio into your yoga. if you want a workout with your practice, a flowing series and appreciate moving up into more challenging series’ then try an ashtanga class. if you’re new, start with the primary series.

Yin

this may be the first thing you think of when you think ‘yoga.’ it’s a quiet practice and you can meditate during the practice. each pose is held for quite a long time, or quite a few breaths, so the body can kind of naturally move deeper into the stretch. it’s designed to lengthen connective tissues. if you’re always on the go or always practicing a hardcore sequence, you might find something slow and controlled like this a kind of challenge on a whole new level.

Vinyasa

YAY! love me some vinyasa! (ok, enough about me) vinyasa is a flowing sequence where each pose is connected to the next one and you move into each pose on either an inhale or exhale. a well-known vinyasa flow is a sun salutation. if you want to build strength, get sweaty and you enjoy creativity, then head to a vinyasa class. (sometimes also called Power classes)

whew! there are lots more types of yoga, but these seem to be the ones most often found at gyms and studios. if you step out of the (yoga) box and try a new style, let me know!

have you ever cheated on your favorite style of yoga?  or maybe you aren’t into monogamy on your mat and you’re always mixing it up.  i think i’m going to keep going with the flow and let my practice take me where it wants to.

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