If you are new to yoga, or even if you’ve dabbled in yoga for years, all the different styles can be confusing.  All forms of yoga will improve your strength, flexibility, muscle tone, balance and stress levels. Here are brief descriptions of the best-known yoga styles.

Ashtanga yoga is challenging and best for seasoned yogis.  A typical session is 70 nonstop poses in 90 – 120 minutes and requires strength and endurance. It includes a special breathing technique to focus the mind and control breath through the body.

Hatha is a gentle yoga and great for beginners.  Originally it referred to the physical practice of yoga, meaning the poses, rather than the breathing.  Currently it means combining several yoga styles into a beginner level class with basic poses.

Vinyasa is the most aerobic type of yoga and a popular yoga style for weight loss.  It is fast-paced and good for strength, flexibility and balance.  The poses flow quickly from one to the next.  It is an intermediate yoga level, rather than a beginner level.

Bikram is also known as ‘hot’ yoga because the room in which it is practiced is kept at 100°.  It is very challenging, a sequence of 26 poses done twice in 90 minutes.  The theory behind the heat is that it loosens the muscles, improving stretching and flexibility.

Kundalini is a spiritual and philosophical type of yoga.  The classes include meditation, breathing techniques, chanting of mantras and yoga poses.  Its goal is to quiet the mind but energize the body.  It is meant to release the energy that is believed to be stored in the base of the spine.

Lynegar is a gentle yoga and good for beginners.  It is also good for anyone with back or neck problems. A major focus is correct alignment and aides like pillows and bolsters are used.  It is slow-paced and deliberate.  It is good for strengthening muscles and supporting the joints.

Kripalu is a gentle yoga that starts slow and progresses through three deeper levels.  It involves meditation and focuses on physical and spiritual healing.  You move at your own pace, so it is good for anyone with limited mobility.

There are always new types of yoga being created.  Moksha hot yoga was founded in 2004 and in 2013 changed its name to ModoCorepower yoga was founded in 2002, and Forrest yoga is currently gaining popularity.  It’s the very new Stand-Up Paddle yoga that is amazing to me.  As a new stand-up paddle boarder, it’s all I can do to just stand up without falling over.  I cannot imagine doing a downward dog!

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