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You tried yoga and didn’t like it. That’s fair. Not every form of exercise or wellness practice is right for everyone.
However, there are a lot of reasons weight lifters should work some yoga in their routines. Yoga stretches the hip flexors, hamstrings and the shoulder girdle. It also helps develop core strength and stability and activates the glutes—all important considerations for the regular lifter.
Yoga comes in many forms. There are dozens of types of classes, all of which incorporate different poses and move at varying paces. It is entirely possible that your next yoga class, should you choose to take it, will look nothing like the previous one.
Before you sell your gently used sticky mat on eBay, why not give yoga another shot? September is, after all, National Yoga Month. Tons of studios across the country are offering free community classes and new member specials, so now is the perfect time to experiment and find the yoga style that’s right for you.
To give you a starting point, we put together this simple guide. It contains just a few of the most common yoga styles, all of which we’ve matched to different workout preferences.
If you’re easily bored and like to keep moving, try Vinyasa.
Vinyasa, which is also sometimes referred to as “Vinyasa Flow,” is one of the most popular forms of yoga. If your gym has a yoga class, it’s most likely a Vinyasa class. Vinyasa can vary quite a bit even within its own category, but most classes incorporate flowing sequences of poses that are connected to specific breath patterns. You will likely break a sweat and increase your heart rate in a Vinyasa class, which makes it a good option for people who have found less physical forms of yoga a little boring.
If you like to push yourself physically and are looking for your next challenge, try Bikram.
This form of yoga definitely belongs in the “not for everyone” category. But the yogis who love it really love it and report benefits ranging from weight loss to clearer skin. The 90-minute class is held in a heated room – usually around 105 degrees – and consists of 26 poses or “postures.” Many of the postures are challenging, and instructors will encourage students to push their levels of flexibility, strength and balance. Oh, and you will sweat. A lot.
One thing to note: every class is exactly the same no matter where you go. Bikram Choudhury, the school’s founder, has prescribed a very specific sequence that all instructors are required to follow with no variation. So if you’re looking for a class that mixes things up, Bikram may not be for you.
If you want to improve your focus, posture and alignment, try Iyengar.
Pretty much any form of yoga can help reverse the “keyboard slouch” that so many of us have succumbed to, but Iyengar yoga puts added emphasis on overall body alignment in all of its poses. So if your shoulders roll forward, you have a sway back or you’re guilty of letting your knees extend over your toes when squatting, Iyengar may help you get back on track from a physical perspective. Also, focusing on holding poses for extended periods of time can be a great exercise for mindfulness. You may find that an hour of fine-tuning your body’s alignment is just what you needed to quiet a racing brain.
If you’re mostly interested in relaxing and gentle stretching, try Restorative.
Restorative yoga is a great option for pretty much anyone, but it’s important to come to class with the right expectations. You won’t be powering through sun salutations or practicing challenging arm balances. As its name suggests, Restorative yoga is all about relaxation and recuperation. It’s like a mini-holiday for your body. It’s also perfect for the rest days that fall in between your scheduled workouts.
Restorative classes typically contain fewer poses than a Vinyasa class, for example, and you may spend more time in reclining positions like reclining bound angle pose and savasana. Your instructor may ask you to use yoga props like blocks, blankets and straps. These items will support your body and help you receive the maximum benefit from each pose.
What style of yoga best matches your personality?