Stay Balanced

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Originating thousands of years ago in India, yoga has morphed into many varieties, all of which have become workout favorites for countless celebrities. Many different practices of yoga are taught, so knowing what to expect can help you take the first step toward this ever-growing area of holistic fitness. So which classes will you like best? That depends entirely on your personality.

Hatha is best for beginners and is most commonly practiced in the Western world. Most classes focus on the asanas, or physical postures, and breathing techniques, though they often include meditation as well. Hatha can incorporate a variety of physical types of yoga, and the intensity of the class typically depends on the teacher. Generally speaking, Hatha classes are performed at a slower, gentler pace and provide a good introduction for newcomers.

Vinyasa is best for athletic types. It provides a more intense workout because there is a constant flow of movement. “Some people don’t want a lot of talk,” says Elissa Rubino, founder of Palm Beach Lotus private yoga instruction in South Florida. “They just want to move their bodies and do more exercise.” For this style, the breath and movement are always synchronized, and poses are linked with movements. It requires more focus because your breath should dictate your movement and the amount of time you hold a pose. The constant movement is ideal for sculpting your figure.

Kundalini is best for open-minded spiritual students. Like Hatha, this branch of yoga includes classic yoga poses and meditation but focuses more on chanting and breathing to awaken the seven chakras believed to be energy points. Movements within poses in Kundalini are often repeated, as the emphasis is more on mediation and breath control. The goal of working the body and breath is to achieve heightened awareness, especially regarding self-awareness and finding purpose.

Ashtanga is best for type-a organizers. This system is a series of ordered sequences of postures popularized by K. Pattabhi Jois in Mysore, India. Practitioners must master a series before proceeding to the next. Each set is done in the same order at every class. Also done using the Vinyasa breathing and flow of movement, Ashtanga differs from Vinyasa yoga because of its specificity, but, like Vinyasa, the constant flow of movement produces heat and sweat, which helps to burn body fat.

Anusara is best for happy spirit seekers. Developed by John Friend in 1997, Anusara combines the system of universal alignment principles with life-affirming themes for practitioners to reflect on, so students feel connected to something greater than themselves. Each class has a different theme selected by the instructor. Using alignment principles, students set up a strong foundation with correct hand and foot placement and take their time stretching into a pose and meditating on the theme of the day.

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