The Different Types of Yoga and Their Benefits

Yoga has quickly gained popularity over the past decade, particularly for the numerous physical, mental, and spiritual benefits provided by the practice. We always hear that yoga is good for us, but we don’t always know exactly where to start. Different types of yoga appeal to different people and provide them with different benefits, so how can you know which yoga class to try out first?

If you’ve never practiced yoga before and are looking to start, a great way to determine which type of yoga to try first is to identify your goals for your practice. Is your main goal strength building, connecting with your breath, deep stretching, or maybe just taking time for stillness?

The following types of yoga are the most common practices that you can likely find at a nearby studio or gym:

Power (Vinyasa) Yoga
If you’re looking to get your body moving and break a sweat while simultaneously learning to connect breath to movement, power yoga may be the practice for you. The goal of power or vinyasa yoga is to create heat and a flow of energy while building strength. Each class is creative and completely different, which may be the choice for you if you like unpredictability and a challenge.

Yin Yoga
Yin yoga is more meditative and is practiced in a calm, dark, and relaxing setting. Postures are typically seated and are held 3-5 minutes to allow stretching through deep ligaments and tendons and deeper meditation through long breaths.

Bikram Yoga
Bikram yoga is all about cleansing the body of toxins and keeping processes functioning well. Every Bikram class is exactly the same with 26 postures and a set script, with the room heated well over 100 F. If you love predictability and watching yourself progress through the same postures each day, Bikram may be the practice for you.

Ashtanga Yoga
Ashtanga is a rigorous style of yoga that is similar to Vinyasa in that it links breath to movement and similar to Bikram in the sense that it is a set sequence. Ashtanga literally means the eight-limbed path of yoga, which details the internal and external cleansing processes in order to achieve spiritual fulfillment.

The best way to determine which type of yoga works best for you is to try them all out and see which resonate with you. Maybe your practice consists of a combination of all the types - it doesn’t have to be only one style of yoga. There are also many more varieties of yoga, such as Kundalini, AcroYoga, and more that aren't as commonly found at local studios and are worth exploring on your own.