The 6 Most Popular Yoga Styles, Demystified

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Hatha

“Hatha” is an umbrella term that encompasses nearly all styles of yoga. To draw a comparison, hatha is like ice cream, and styles like ashtanga and Bikram are strawberry and rocky road. Classes identified as “hatha” typically offer a classical, introductory approach to yogic breathing and postures. It’s a non-threatening style that’s much less intense than ashtanga or Bikram.

Good for you if:

you like moving at a slower pace.
you’d rather build strength than stamina.
you have sensitive joints.
you’re a beginner.

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Iyengar

Named after the man who developed it, B.K.S. Iyengar (pronounced eye-yen-gar), this meticulous style pays utmost attention to proper alignment. For that reason, classes are slower paced and well-suited for beginners. Iyengar yoga is also known for its use of props — straps, blocks, and pillow-like bolsters — to achieve correct alignment. Movement is measured and deliberate, so it won’t raise your heart rate the way other styles will. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy!

Good for you if:

you are nursing an injury.
you appreciate strong guidance.
you are patient.
you want to learn the fundamentals.

49365Want to get your practice started off right? Try this yoga beginner kit, complete with instructional book, beginner’s DVD and soothing must-haves for an at-home spa day.

Do you practice yoga? What draws you to it? And what’s your favorite style?

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G. H. was raised in Minnesota, but currently calls Seattle her home. She's a blogger, editor, and journalist, and she's written everything from news reports to restaurant reviews. If she's not putting pen to paper, G. H. is probably experimenting in the kitchen, chilling out on her yoga mat, or running through a city park.
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