As a beginner, it might seem rather intimidating for you to choose a yoga type. There are so many choices out there that you don’t even know where to start. From the multitude of styles, classes, and foreign-sounding techniques, how do you know which one works best for you? What did the instructor mean when saying “chaturanga dandasana” anyway?
Yoga does not have a “one size fits all” option. However, there are some types that you might try out to help smooth out the process. Starting too “heavy” in the beginning might be counter-productive for you. If you are asking yourself which yoga is best for beginners, here are some yoga types that an inexperienced yogi might want to consider.
1. Hatha Yoga
Forever the universally mispronounced type of yoga, Hatha yoga refers to the physical practice that we generally know as yoga. Hatha yoga allows you to improve your focus on aligning your soul, body, and mind. You may refer to it as an “internal cleansing” that allows you to become physically and mentally stronger, bringing you more in touch with your inner self. It comes with a number of benefits for those that are just starting on the yoga path.
There are various hatha yoga poses that you can try out during a session. The mountain pose, for example, is generally present in every yoga class as it is a transition and rest pose. The forward fold and the low lunge (both sides) are also not absent from any class, and the downward dog is generally in the middle of every class, as this is another transition pose.
There are numerous variations to these poses, all of which will be shown to you by your yoga instructor. Some classes include the bridge pose and the warrior pose, whereas other classes will include the tree pose and/or the bound angle. No hatha yoga class will be the same, and you might experience different things.
During hatha yoga, your main focus should be on the way you are breathing as you are striking a pose. Hatha yoga comes with numerous benefits for beginners as well, including the following:
- It strengthens your heart as it alleviates your high blood pressure
- It builds up your bone density
- It improves your core strength
- It improves the mobility and flexibility of your joints
- It improves your posture and balance
- It helps your lower back get stronger
The more you practice hatha yoga, the stronger your body will also get. This way, you will be able to move on to the more “intense” yoga poses, or advance to deeper variations of other poses.
Hatha yoga strengthens your heart and can help alleviate your high blood pressure.
2. Iyengar Yoga
Iyengar yoga is a different type of yoga that you would normally see, as it is a bit more oriented to detail. Its purpose is to help you find alignment as you are concentrating – with balance being at the core. However, even if you are a beginner, you should not allow this to intimidate you. You can easily use a chair, a belt, a block, or everything at hand to help you strike a fabulous pose.
Iyengar yoga is good for those that wish to try yoga but are afraid they will not do the poses correctly. It is a cautious and very gentle version of yoga – one that will help build your mind and your body. And since its focus is on good alignment, you don’t have to worry that you would not be able to perform these exercises. Iyengar yoga is a great practice for yogis that are barely starting on their path towards spirituality.
Iyengar yoga focuses on correct alignment along with breath control. It is the type of yoga that allows you to balance your body. If your body is balanced enough, then your mind will be so as well.
Unlike most of today’s yoga classes, Iyengar yoga is different from being “flow yoga.” Rather than having you change from one position to another quickly and in a “flowing” manner, the yoga instructor will add the “child’s pose” between poses. This way, you should be able to stretch and relax your muscles, making it a great choice for those that are barely starting with yoga.
While it does involve a more extensive period of rest, it doesn’t mean that it’s an easy type of yoga. Granted, it may not be as difficult to do as other yoga types, but the fact that you have to hold the yoga postures for an extended period makes it challenging still.
Instructors add child pose between poses so you can relax your muscles in Iyengar yoga.
3. Restorative Yoga
If you feel like you wish to find your center once more, then you might want to try restorative yoga. This type of yoga is a meditative one that makes use of props such as yoga straps, bolsters, sandbags, blankets, and so on. This will lead to a passive release of your mind, along with the removal of your bodily tension – allowing you to “take off the edge,” so to speak, without actually engaging in active exercising or stretching.
Restorative yoga is an ideal choice for beginners, as it has various benefits. It can help you lose weight with the correct exercises, and you won’t even be breaking a sweat while you are doing it. It is a particularly good type of yoga as well if you tend to have chronic pain or have suffered through an injury. This way, you will not be stressing your body more than you need to.
Restorative yoga is used for people who have chronic pain or suffered an injury.
4. Kripalu Yoga
Looking for a gentle kind of yoga that you will have no difficulties practicing, even if you are a beginner? In that case, you might want to try Kripalu yoga. Indeed, it might have a rather heavy name, but in truth, it is quite an easy type of yoga.
This kind of yoga is not only associated with a good spiritual state, but it is also used for a better physical status. Kripalu is used for people struggling with obesity, as it has shown quite a lot of success in weight loss programs.
While there are a few differences, Kripalu yoga also holds various similarities with Hatha yoga. That being said, each pose is different and in accordance with your own body construction. Kripalu yoga does not have you do poses by the book, but in a way that your body is accepting of them. This way, the risk of injury is reduced as your pressure points are tackled individually. Kripalu yoga’s purpose is basically a technique for you to better understand your body.
The challenge of Kripalu yoga is that it might ask for slightly longer holds, and some great focus on your meditation technique. Thus, once you become aware of your own limits, Kripalu yoga becomes much easier to handle. It is a type of yoga that will show you that you are capable of everything.
Kripalu is great for people struggling to lose weight.
5. Yin Yoga
Yin yoga is once more a practice that is convenient for beginners, as it focuses on stretching your tissues and giving your flexibility back. The poses for this type of yoga are held for about 1 to 5 minutes, though this depends on the pose and your level, which some may find challenging. Still, this is quite efficient when it comes to lengthening your connective tissue.
The yin yoga practice has its base in ancient Taoist principles and Chinese philosophies – the ones saying that we have different kinds of energies (qi) going through the body. By practicing yin yoga, we are practically opening up any potential blockages that we might have, allowing the energy to flow freely through our bodies.
Unlike other types of yoga, yin yoga does not focus on us moving through the postures freely. You can hold a posture for 3-5 minutes, or you may hold it for 30 seconds or as long as 20 minutes. Those practicing yin yoga have the purpose of accessing a deeper tissue, strengthening your joints, and therefore allowing you to gain better flexibility.
Yin Yoga can help you gain your flexibility back.
For this reason, it is considered to be quite a convenient yoga type for beginners. It allows you to stretch your body so that eventually you may move on to the more “advanced poses.” Plus, no class is a “one size fits all,” so you might consider them quite fun and enlightening.
This is also a great option for those who practice other kinds of sports or training programs, and want to add recovery sessions to their routines.
So, which yoga is best for beginners? Well, that actually depends on your personal preferences, fitness and physical conditions. Some get along better with hatha yoga, whereas some find more connections with restorative or Kripalu yoga.
That being said, all of these yoga types will get you started on your yoga journey. They will allow you to start small before you move on to your advanced yoga sessions. So, grab your yoga gear and start practicing – because the sooner you get it in your system, the better it will be.
Yoga has changed countless lives, so allow it to change yours as well.
Co-founder of MB Zen, digital nomad and freedom seeker. Loves developing projects that improve people’s lives. Functional training, yoga, and healthy eating define his lifestyle since he got his back injured. Fell in love with Yin yoga from the very first session though he won’t say no to any other kind of yoga.