17 Tue

Which type of yoga is right for you?

Which type of yoga is right for you?

Written by: Paul Kochoa, PT, DPT, OCS, CKTP, CGFI

Some patients ask me if they should try yoga.  I say that as long as you don’t have any medical contraindications, yoga should be fine.  But which type of yoga is right for you? It all depends on what you’re looking for.

Yoga can increase your flexibility, enhance your postural awareness, strengthen your body, and relieve stress.  It combines the body and mind, and even can extend into the way you interact with your environment.  It’s not only an exercise or physical activity, but also a philosophy.  One can start in a simple gym class, getting familiar with the basic movements and poses, called asanas, but then you can branch out and try other types.

There are many styles of yoga practiced here in the United States, let’s talk about some of the more popular varieties: Hatha, Vinyasa, Ashtanga, and Bikram.

Hatha yoga is the basis for all other types of yoga.  It incorporates the asanas with breathing, meditation, and relaxation.  It is a form of exercise and stress management. Hatha is usually practiced in a quiet environment, with the movements being slow and controlled.  The key to Hatha is to become in touch with your body and improve your body awareness, posture, and decrease your stress levels.

Vinyasa yoga is known for it’s flowing style, moving from one pose to another with very little time spent in one single pose.  It incorporates the breath, timing the asanas to the inhalation and exhalation of the participants.  Ashtanga also includes the breathing, but is more athletic and more advanced than Vinyasa.  It helps develop strength and flexibility and can sometimes be called “Power Yoga”.

Bikram yoga is usually practiced in a heated room.  The room’s temperature can be set to 105 degrees Fahrenheit to help sweat out toxins and promote flexibility.  It’s also called “Hot Yoga”.  It incorporates strengthening and flexibility with weight loss and endurance.  It is not for the beginner yoga student.

Yoga is a great adjunct to physiotherapy, improving movement and self-awareness.  It can be an intermediary step to getting back into more advanced recreational activities or it can be a great cross-training tool.  Whatever the style of yoga you participate in, the bottom line is that you have fun and listen to your body.  Don’t try and over-do the asanas, which can lead to injury.  Yoga can be different things to different people. Because it is a combination of mind and body, the only thing one needs to keep in mind is to relax and enjoy.

If you would like more information, please call Professional Physical Therapy and Training at 973-270-7417.  Our offices are located within the YMCA locations in Madison and Summit, NJ.  You do not need to be a member of the YMCA to visit with us.

Image courtesy of photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

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