Ice cream and the ABCs of yoga

Different types of yoga: A beginners' guide

I took a break from exercise. A couple days turned into weeks, into months, into years.

I’m heading into a new decade, the decade where I’ve been warned your body begins to betray you, so I bought a yoga mat and found the closest yoga studio. Break was over.

I’ve been going a couple months now, but lately I’ve been finding it hard to get motivated. I shared this with a friend who has practiced yoga for years. She recommended I look into Hatha yoga. She thought it might be more my style.

My style?

“Yoga is a bit like ice cream,” Tom Snyder explained to me. Snyder is a registered nurse and Clinical Performance Assessment and Improvement director at Banner Boswell Medical Center who has been practicing yoga for almost 40 years. “There used to be vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. But today there are all sorts of options.”

Well, I like ice cream. Is there a yoga equivalent of cookie dough?

Ashtanga
This is a more athletic style of yoga that rapidly moves from pose to pose, following the same poses each class, in coordination with breathing.

Bikram
Bikram, or hot yoga, is a series of 26 poses with two breathing exercises in a room set to 104 degrees with 40 percent humidity. The idea is that the heat loosens your muscles allowing for deep stretching. Because of the heat, if you have health problems, talk to your doctor before trying a hot yoga class.

Hatha
Hatha is what many modern yoga styles are based from and is generally a slow-paced combination of poses, breathing and meditation, making it good for beginners.

Iyengar
This is a more structured and disciplined form of Hatha yoga that suggests there is a right way to do each pose.

Kundalini
This form of yoga focuses on the belief that there is energy at the base of your spine that can be awakened through a combination of poses, breathing, chanting and meditation.

Restorative
Focused on relaxation, restorative yoga incorporates props such as blocks and pillows into basic poses that are held for extended periods of time.

Vinyasa
Also referred to as flow yoga, Vinyasa is high intensity with fluid pose transitions done in coordination with breathing.

Yin
Emphasizing meditation, Yin yoga poses are held for as long as 20 minutes.

“I encourage people that if they try a class and don’t like it, to try another – same goes for the teacher of the class,” said Snyder. “And even if it works, try something else.”

Snyder recently started teaching a yoga class at Banner Boswell for staff, patients and the community. Find a Banner Health yoga or wellness class near you.

If you stick with it, there are major health benefits to yoga, like increasing strength and stamina, improving posture and balance, and reducing stress.

I’m going to do my best to make yoga part of my routine. But this time around I plan to do a little research on the studios in my area to see what each offers. Hatha might be a better option than Ashtanga for me right now. Baby steps.

Read more: Warming up to hot yoga

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