How can I figure out which type of yoga is right for me?
BY: Jennifer Viegas
There are many different types of yoga, including Hatha, Vinyasa and Bikram. Hatha yoga is something of a misnomer, however. "Hatha yoga refers to the general classification of doing yoga postures with breathing techniques," explains Larry Payne, Ph.D., director of the Yoga Training Program at Loyola Marymount University and president of the Samata Yoga Center in Los Angeles. So many styles of yoga -- including Vinyasa and Bikram -- are actually forms of Hatha yoga. Classes that are described as Hatha Yoga usually refer to general, traditional yoga without a particular style, which attracts people of all ages.
Vinyasa yoga, on the other hand, is usually recommended for people who are in the first half of their lives, since it incorporates more physically demanding moves, says Payne. For individuals who are in the second half of their lives, Payne recommends Viniyoga, which puts less emphasis on mimicking the instructor's perfect form and more attention to practicing postures "to meet one's own needs and physical capacities," he says. This individualized approach might also appeal to self-starters of any age, he adds.
Bikram yoga is another discipline altogether. "It involves 26 postures done at the intermediate level and in a room where the temperature is set at over 100 degrees Fahrenheit," says Payne. The heat is thought to help with stretching.
Other popular forms of yoga include Iyengar yoga, which is sometimes called "furniture yoga" because it utilizes cushions, benches and other props; Kripalu yoga, in which practitioners move through three stages of posture work and meditation; Kundalini yoga, which incorporates chanting with postures and breath control; and Integral yoga, made famous in the U.S. by Swami Satchidananda who, at the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival, taught baby boomers to perform yoga while chanting "om."
Jennifer Viegas, contributing writer to Live Right Live Well, has covered health, food and fitness for ABC News, Discovery online, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. and Knight Ridder newspapers. The author of more than 20 books, she is also a James Beard Award nominee.