The Sanskrit word for “union,” yoga is both spiritual and physical. Using breathing techniques, meditation and movement, the practice can energize and de-stress, depending on which type of yoga you choose to embrace.

Rife with hybrids—from Yoga Hop, a blend of yoga and hip hop, to yogalates, which pairs yoga with Pilates, to budokon, a fast-paced martial arts/yoga combo, to sweat-inducing hot or power yoga—the yoga menu is as vast as the imagination.

Choosing the practice or type of yoga that is right for you depends on your goals:

  • Do you want to destress?
  • Are you interested in a spiritual practice?
  • Is vigorous exercise your goal?
  • Do you want to be drenched in sweat?

Yoga can fulfill all of those goals…and more. It isn’t uncommon for yoga students to vary their practice, selecting a destressing, gentle stretching class after work, a spiritual session when they are feeling down and a lively sweat-inducing class when they have energy to burn. Following are a few options:

Hatha

What it is: Slower paced, with a focus on breathing and basic poses. The mother of all yoga practices and the root of all modern styles, Hatha is the physical practice of yoga that uses a combination of body postures (asanas), breathing (pranayama) and meditation (dyana), with the goal of invigorating both mind and body. Perfect for beginners.

Aqua

What is it: A low-impact, flowing practice suitable for everyone. Practicing in the water promotes stability, core strength, joint health and balance. The practice will leave you feeling strong, refreshed and completely relaxed. For all levels.

See also What Women Want in an Exercise Routine

Ashtanga

What it is: Structured and challenging, for the athletic and more advanced student. Ashtanga consists of six different sequences that students can do at their own pace. Each sequence has a different focus and characteristics. For example, the first sequence, Yoga Chikitsa’s 75 poses, focuses on stamina, flexibility, strength and detoxification. Best for more advanced or athletic students.

Vinyasa

What it is: This style is known for the fluid transitions between poses. Because breathing is extremely important, and movements are synchronized with your breath, students tend to sweat. Recommended for students who want lots of variety and movement.

Restorative

What it is: This style is about healing the body and mind through a series of simple poses. With the help of bolsters, props and pillows, many of the meditative poses are held for up to 20 minutes. Perfect for anyone in need of deep destressing or gentle healing. 

kat tudorKat Tudor is the founder and co-owner of SunWellness Companies, as well as a yoga instructor and artist. SunWater Spa and SunMountain offers a variety of yoga programs, from restorative and gentle aqua yoga, to Ayurveda and a version of a traditional Hatha practice, Sivananda yoga, a 90-minute class with an alternating focus on movement, breath and conscious relaxation to bring awareness within and encourage calmness. More at sunwellness.net.

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