You may have noticed that many people took up yoga during lockdown. This isn’t surprising as the sport has many health benefits, and not always the ones you first think of. Furthermore, did you know that there are different types of yoga? Depending on what your body or mind needs, you won’t choose the same type of practice.
Choosing a yoga practice isn’t easy. It can be difficult figuring out exactly what your mind and body may need, sometimes they don’t coincide with the same need. Whether you want to work on your mind to help with your anxiety, depression or stress you won’t pick the same practice than if you were to work on your body’s strength for example.
If you plan on working your mind, you will want to pick slower flows. Yin yoga is excellent for reconnecting one’s body with one’s breath, thus helping reduce your anxiety. During this type of practice, you will hold poses for longer. You could also try yoga nidra, which allows you to enter a deep conscious sleep. This practice helps clear your mind and is great if you are feeling overwhelmed by racing thoughts. Some even claim that 45 minutes of yoga nidra is the equivalent of three hours of sleep.
If you want a practice that combines mind and body, then ashtanga yoga may be the one for you. This practice synchronises breath, postures and drishti – which is gaze point – it creates a dynamic yoga flow. Ashtanga yoga is good for building strength, but also purifying the nervous system as well as calming the mind. You could try this practice when you need help focusing but want to feel the heat too.
There are different types of yoga for the body as well. For example, you could try yogasana, which is a strong physical practice. It will flow between asanas – sanskrit for physical poses in yoga – with options to modify if they are too intense. Yogasana focuses more on the physical aspect of yoga. This type of yoga is good at strengthening your body and your mind. The best time to try yogasana is when you feel like you want to build strength or if you need an energy boost. To wake your body up in the morning, a mandala flow is perfect. This yoga flow is dynamic. Each sequence you do is linked to one of the four elements – water, fire, air and earth – each of which is related to a set of muscles and chakra. Perhaps try a mandala flow when you are energetically low as it will help you explore new movements for your body. It will also teach you more about the elements and allow you to move more freely.
Another fun type of yoga is acroyoga. This one is much different to the previous ones, as this one is performed with another yogi. For this practice, you will combine yoga and acrobatics. This is great for building communication and trust, as well as a connection with your fellow yogi. Try acroyoga when you want to have a bit of fun that will also challenge your mind and body.
Yoga is a lot more than just stretching when you look into it properly and people often underestimate how tough it can be. When practicing yoga, it is important to listen to your body and mind, if they are telling you to ease off, you should. If they are telling you not to practice today, that is also fine and you shouldn’t force yourself to otherwise it won’t be beneficial. That is the best part about yoga.