Yoga is best known for using poses, breathing, meditation and diving deeper into spirituality. If you’re new to yoga maybe your first thoughts are of someone wrapped up like a human pretzel, celebrities in see-through yoga pants or maybe even vegan, hemp-wearing hippies chanting ‘Om’.

Yes, those are all stereotypes which you can, and probably will see during your first forays into the Yoga world… if you haven’t already! But even without all the poses, chants and well… suspiciously thin material used for certain yoga pants, there’s actually so much more to Yoga.

When you put aside the unfortunate stereotypes and myths that might otherwise scare you away, you’ll find a practice that can be very beneficial to your mind, body and spirit.

In fact, if you want to get technical about it – and who doesn’t? – take a look at the Oxford dictionary which defines Yoga as follows:

Yoga is a Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which, including breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practiced for health and relaxation.

Yoga Myths

With something as esoteric as Yoga can be, you won’t be surprised to find that it suffers its fair share of strange and unusual myths. We’ve talked about this before, here, but just to refresh your memory a bit, these are some common ones:

  • You have to be flexible to practice yoga.

  • Yoga is a form of religion.

  • Only vegetarians practice yoga.

  • Yoga is for thin people.

Who Should Do Yoga

Yoga is for everyone. There are so many diverse forms (over 10) that you won’t be hard-pressed to find at least one which suits your tastes.

Are you an athlete? Yoga is for you.

Want to relieve stress? There’s a yoga form for that!

Just want to sweat…profusely? Yep, Yoga’s got your (hot) back.

What Are The Benefits?

Yoga is good for the mind, body and spirit, which means that you’ll benefit in each of these areas to some degree.

Physical:

Helps you tone your body, become more flexible, stronger, longer and leaner.

Improves respiration, energy, and vitality. When you focus on your breathing, you learn to relax, clear your mind and let the stress and tension out of your body.

Helps relieve pain while also improving your athletic abilities.

Mental:

Helps you relax and handle stressful situations more easily.

Teaches you to have a more focused mind.

You’ll also learn to focus your energy and become more body conscious, as well as gain greater awareness of your feelings.

Spiritual:

People who practice yoga, especially the meditation side of it, often talk about the spiritual benefits from insight and illumination to the sense of unity with everything.

Where to do yoga

If you’ve seen or heard of Tara Stiles then you’ll already know that the gym or yoga studio is not the only place you can practice yoga. She rocks her personal yoga practice all over New York city, from the streets to the subway. In fact it’s poetic to see her practising such serene and peaceful poses in the midst of all the hustle and bustle, noise and activity.

And she’s not the only one! Here are some other city yogis doing their thing:

In other words: the world is your Yoga playground, so don’t be afraid to use it.

The Many Types of Yoga

The Yoga Newbie

These styles of yoga are for those brand new to yoga or new to working out period. Anyone recovering from an injury or if you just want something peaceful to do with less spirituality can start here:

Restorative Yoga

Restorative Yoga

Uses props, like blocks, bolsters and blankets to help you comfortably get into a pose and stay in it for longer.

Restorative Yoga

Restorative Yoga

Helps support individuals facing health challenges. Can help them manage their condition, reduce symptoms, restore balance, increase vitality, and improve attitude.

Yin Yoga

Yin Yoga

Access the deeper tissues such as the connective tissue and fascia. Many of the postures focus on areas that encompass a joint, e.g. hips, sacrum and spine.

Gentle Hatha Yoga

Gentle Hatha Yoga

Gentle Hatha uses postures (asana) and conscious breathing (Pranayama) in combination with mental focus to develop awareness, strength and flexibility, and relaxation.

Chair Yoga

Chair Yoga

Chair yoga is a general term for practices that modify yoga poses so that they can be done while seated in a chair.

These modifications make yoga accessible to people who cannot stand or lack the mobility to move easily from standing to seated to supine positions.

The Intermediate Yogi

This yogi has dipped his or her toe into Yoga… and liked it! Now you want to delve a little bit deeper into the philosophy and practice of Yoga.

The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga

The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga

A unique practice that blends the wisdom of the yogic tradition with the principles of The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success.

Hatha Yoga

Hatha Yoga

Hatha yoga describes the physical practice of yoga. The slow pace and simple breathing exercises make it a great place to learn basic poses and become comfortable on the mat.

Vinyasa Yoga

Vinyasa Yoga

Movements linked to breath, fast-paced, sweaty set to music or slow and meditative. Move from pose to pose fairly quickly, some classes incorporate chatting and dharma talk.

The Experienced Yogi

You regularly practice yoga, but now you want to go even deeper into the mental and spiritual aspects of it. Spirituality is a large component of your practice and lifestyle – you seek to align the poses and breath-work with the spiritual components.

Ashtanga Yoga

Ashtanga Yoga

This method of yoga involves synchronizing the breath with a progressive series of postures – a process producing intense internal heat and a profuse, purifying sweat that detoxifies muscles and organs.

Anusara Yoga

Anusara Yoga

Anusara means “flowing with grace” and this form of Yoga focuses on alignment.

Kundalini Yoga

Kundalini Yoga

This form of yoga, originally taught by Yogi Bhajan is considered by many to be one of the most comprehensive of yoga traditions, combining meditation, mantra, physical exercises and breathing techniques.

Jivamukti

Jivamukti

This form is a physical, ethical, and spiritual practice, combining a vigorous hatha yoga, vinyasa-based physical style with adherence to five central tenets: shastra (scripture), bhakti (devotion), ahimsa (non-harming), nāda (music), and dhyana (meditation).

The Fitness Yogi

If you love fitness and finding fun challenging ways to get a workout, but you’re not really interested in the spiritual of philosophical sides of Yoga, then there’s still something for you!

Power Yoga

Power Yoga

Power yoga is a general term used in the West to describe a vigorous, fitness-based approach to vinyasa-style yoga.

Yogalates

Yogalates

The Yogalates method is a comprehensive exercise system which combines Yoga and Pilates.

Bikram Yoga

Bikram Yoga

Makes you sweat – a lot. There are 26 poses are performed for over 90 minutes in a 104 degree room. The intense heat is said to help flush out toxins in the muscles.

The Adventure Yogi

If you’re the kind of yogi who just wants to have fun, then take a Yoga ride on the wild side with a few of these more adventurous forms.

AcroYoga

AcroYoga

AcroYoga blends the wisdom of yoga, the dynamic power of acrobatics, and the loving kindness of healing arts. These three lineages form the foundation of a practice that cultivates trust, playfulness, and community.

Aerial Yoga

Aerial Yoga

Unnata Yoga offers authentic yoga with the support of a soft, aerial fabric hammock to explore, refine and advance traditional asana, both in the air and on the ground.

Why fight gravity? Unnata Yoga works with gravity to relax and realign the body, center the mind and uplift the spirit.

Paddleboard Yoga

Paddleboard Yoga

Paddle surfing is great, it promotes balance, strength and general fitness. When you combine it with Yoga it’s even more awesome – is that possible? Yes!

It provides an isometric workout that strengthens your core muscle groups, while giving you a fun and exciting way to view the natural surroundings.

By now you should have some idea of which yoga class you would like to participate in. So try a class out at your local gym or studio, and see what difference it makes for your mind, body and spirit – Namaste!

Teena Cathey

Teena Cathey is a certified personal trainer who focuses on endurance and energy training. She runs two group fitness boot camp classes called Go Harder in Detroit, MI. Teena is author of the free ebook, How to Find The Right Personal Trainer. When not with clients Teena enjoys painting, playing basketball or with her dog Mister. She’s very social, follow her on... Read More

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