Yoga may be a 5,000 year old practice, but it has seemingly never been more popular.
According to a report from the Global Wellness Institute titled "The Global Economy of Physical Activity," the participation in "mindful movement" is growing around the world, and yoga is the leader of the pack. "In our frenetically paced, stressful, sleepless, and chronic-pain-plagued world, the demand for slower, mindful movement—which includes yoga, Pilates, tai chi, qigong, stretch, barre, Gyrotonic, etc.—is skyrocketing," writes the report. There are 165 million people around the world who participate in the practice, making it a whopping $16.9 billion market.
And the world, it seems, is onto something. You'd be hard-pressed to find any trainer who wouldn't recommend integrating at least some yoga into your routine, whether you're a runner, a Pilates lover, or into Crossfit. It's got a laundry list of proven physical and mental benefits (increases strength, betters flexibility, reduces anxiety—seriously, the list goes on), plus can help you start your days feeling more focused or finish them off with an added level of zen.
But even so, there are a whole lot of people out there still feel like yoga just isn't their thing, or that they prefer other styles of working out to flowing on the mat. And to that, I say, "maybe you just haven't tried the right kind yet." So here are the best types of yoga for every type of fitness enthusiast, which might just turn you into a yogi yet.
If you like your workouts to feel full-throttle, try power yoga
If you're one of those people who thinks yoga "won't give you a good enough workout," you probably haven't tried a power-style class. Power yoga is a more vigorous, fitness-based take on traditional vinyasa, and will work your core and upper body while opening up your shoulders, hips, and spine. "It's going to give you an amazing workout that gives you strength and sweat," says Kajuan Douglas, yoga guru and founder of Merge New York.
If you prefer to move to music, try vinyasa yoga
Can't get enough of those dance cardio classes that have you moving to a particular beat? Try vinyasa yoga. While these classes can either be silent or set to music, they have you move with your breath, which can feel a lot like dancing. "Vinyasa is focused on rhythmic movements," explains Douglas. "You move mindfully like a yogi but graceful like a dancer." You can find regular, heated, and power-style vinyasa classes, among many other options, so it's all about finding which one works best for you.
If you're dead-set on breaking a sweat, try heated yoga
For some people, a good workout goes hand-in-hand with a good sweat (though, for what it's worth, the two aren't mutually exclusive). If that's your M.O., make your way to a hot or heated class—which takes place in studios with temperatures between 85 and 105 degrees. "Heated yoga class definitely makes you sweat as it cooks the body from the outside in, and your yoga movements cook you from the inside out," says Douglas, adding that these types of classes can feel especially purifying. The heat can also help deepen your practice—and will definitely have you dripping within the first few flows. You can find a number of different types of yoga that happen in heated studios, though some of the more popular ones are power, vinyasa, and Bikram (a 90-minute class that includes 26 poses).
If you want to maximize the mind-body connection, try hatha yoga
You'll be hard-pressed to find a yoga class that doesn't make your mind and body feel extra connected, but this link is the main focus of hatha-style practices. "Hatha yoga joins the right and left side of the brain together for a deep mental, physical, and emotional connection," says Douglas. It's like a meditation and workout all in one, and involves linking your movements with asanas and pranayama breathing. This can be applied to any practice, as long as your breath and poses are working as one, but is also taught as a class type of its own.
If you want to relax, try restorative yoga
Yoga is known for its zen-like qualities, which means you'll get some level of relaxation no matter which version of the practice you try (that's the whole point of savasana, after all). But if you're looking for something that is totally chilled-out and doesn't have a strength-training element, you'll want to settle into restorative yoga. "Restorative is a gentle practice that enhances the parasympathetic nervous system, or 'rest and digest' response," says Douglas. This modality involves holding supportive poses for five minutes or more. It's great for anyone looking to recover from their more intense workouts, or who wants to reap the relaxing benefits of a yoga practice without having to work through any power poses.
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