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Yoga has benefits that go beyond just physical. Which style has the benefits you need?

There are a variety of reasons why people practice yoga. It may be for stress relief, mindfulness, fitness, to help them wake up in the morning, or perhaps for spiritual reasons. Most styles of yoga are based around the same basic yoga poses, however, the experience of one practice of yoga can be entirely different from another practice.

Different types of yoga can have different purposes and benefits.

Before you decide what classes you want to attend, decide which particular style of yoga is best for you. 

Ashtanga Yoga benefits

Ashtanga yoga is a method of yoga that involves the synchronization of breath with a series of postures. The style is energetic with a focus on the breath that aligns with the movements. The individual poses (asanas) are linked by flowing moments (vinyasas). This style of yoga was brought to the modern world by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois and popularized by his teachings. How we practice Ashtanga yoga today is based on his practices. 

Ashtanga yoga is typically vigorous and physically challenging. An Ashtanga yoga class moves quickly as you move through the series of movements. There are six series of movements composed of asanas and each series is more difficult than the last. 

Physical Wellbeing Benefits of Ashtanga Yoga

Improve flexibility

Like with most forms of yoga, Ashtanga will improve your flexibility over time and when practiced consistently. In particular, Ashtanga yoga enhances flexibility in your hamstring as well as in shoulders and calves. Ashtanga yoga can also affect the health of your spine. 

Increase strength

There are dozens upon dozens of vinyasas in the basic Ashtanga series. Each movement is demanding, and you must hold your body weight up in different ways. Your entire body works hard during the Ashtanga practice. This builds up strength in your core as well as your overall body. A strong body is a physical representation of the practice. 

Increase muscle tone

All the movement and strength that you are developing is because you are building muscle all over your body. You will look more toned from all the muscles across your body. 

Improve cardiovascular fitness

Ashtanga is a difficult practice. It is full of constant movements between each pose that keeps your heart rate up throughout the entire practice. Beyond the building of flexibility and strength, the practice is also a workout for your heart. 

Lower blood pressure 

In Ashtanga yoga, practitioners use the breathing technique called Ujjayi. This breathing technique includes extending your inhalations and exhalations to then make deep and calming breaths. A long-term benefit of Ujjayi breathing is lowering of high blood pressure in people suffering from hypertension.

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Mental Relaxation Benefits of Ashtanga Yoga

Reduce Stress and Anxiety

Once practitioners become comfortable with the movements, awareness during the practice can shift from the movements to your breath instead. Ashtanga yoga focuses on the same sequences of movements so eventually, your physical movements begin to coordinate with the breath. This allows the practice to leave you relaxed and stress-free.

Inner peace

If consistently practiced, Ashtanga yoga can give peace to its practitioner. The balance – both physical and mental – that is required for this practice can make you feel more connected with the surrounding world. 

Mental Strength

While mental strength is not outwardly apparent, it is just as important. To push your body to the next pose when you might be exhausted, it takes menstrual strength to push through. The mental strength that you develop from Ashtanga yoga can be applied to other aspects of your life. Ashtanga yoga is more than just a yoga class, but a lifestyle. 

Hatha Yoga Benefits

Hatha yoga is often practiced more slowly and some repetition of poses happens, but poses are built on little by little. Poses may be held for a longer period and with more breaths per pose. The benefit of this is that you can get into the poses more deeply or try poses that were not previously available to you.

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Hatha yoga is a great place for beginnings because more time is spent on physical postures and slow moves. It allows for anyone to keep up while focusing on their motion. By building up the basics during Hatha practice, you will be able to build up to more complex poses.

Builds strength and core stability 

Regular Hatha yoga can help fortify your core strength. Your core is the center of your body. It is the center of strength for your spine, hips, and abs. Your core muscles are essential for your daily activities, like getting out of bed, lifting things, bending over, and so on. A strong core is important for your daily life and Hatha yoga is a great way to improve those muscles. 

More bone density and maintain healthy joints 

Healthy bones are key to a healthy lifestyle. Hatha yoga includes several weight-bearing yoga poses, like Tree Pose and Warrior Pose. These poses can help reverse bone loss by building up bone density. Hatha yoga also effectively works on joints in the body to help reach a full range of motion. Consistent Hatha yoga practices can help assist in building bone mass and mobility. 

Heart Health

Certain yoga poses can improve cardiovascular health, including growing lung capacity and strengthening respiratory function. Hatha yoga can also improve blood circulation. There are several poses in particular that are good for your heart, like Mountain Pose, Downward Dog, and Lion’s Breath. Regular Hatha yoga practice can improve your blood pressure.

Why Yoga?

Hatha and Ashtanga yoga may be different practices of yoga, both practices can help balance your body, mind, and spirit. No matter which type of yoga you decide is best for you, yoga is a great way to gain a new understanding of yourself. Through yoga, you can strengthen both your mind and body, find a new level of focus, and relax your spirit. Take a class now to start feeling the benefits!

Ready to start doing yoga with kids at home, too?

Click here to learn some tips on how to start doing yoga with your kids.