Yoga in the Western world has flourished as a part of the fitness industry. While aspects of a yoga-for-fitness-only ideology can contradict yoga’s spiritual origins, it makes sense that classes have become commonplace in our gyms and workout routines.
Regular yoga practice as an aerobic exercise has been shown to lower cardiovascular and respiratory risk factors, lower stress levels, raise body awareness (which can help in your other exercises), and even lose weight! So here are a few class styles that are guaranteed to get your heart rate up, keep your waist size down, and benefit your overall well-being:
We’ll start off with the style that’s become known as “gym yoga” because of its vigorous, vinyasa-style practice. Power Yoga classes will vary slightly from teacher to teacher, but you can always expect to work up a sweat in one with the intense, flowing postures integral to its style.
In terms of class flow and structure, you can think of Ashtanga Yoga as the strict parent of Power Yoga (Power was created as a way to make Ashtanga more interesting and accessible to Western students).
A more traditional style, Ashtanga is made up of six series of postures – the Primary Series through the Sixth Series – yogis advance through as they are able. The workout here comes in because each of these postures is flowed through by the yogi nonstop, matching one breath (an inhale or exhale) to one movement.
Most Ashtanga classes offered are a version of (or the entirety of) the Primary Series, which is made up of roughly 75 postures. This series helps to realign the spine, detoxify the body, and build strength, flexibility, and stamina.
Hot classes can vary in style and temperature, but one thing they all agree on is heating the room you practice in can help increase students’ flexibility in their poses. The higher temperatures also work to get your blood pumping and sweat flowing, which helps flush out toxins and leave you feeling refreshed.
The temperatures in a Hot Yoga class will vary depending on the ideology of the class. For example, Bikram Yoga, a style of Hatha, is practiced in a room heated to 104℉ with 40% humidity. Other classes (including some Power and Ashtanga classes) will heat the room to replicate the heat and humidity of India, where the practice originated.
Hatha is a pretty general term in the yoga community because so many styles are derived from it. The majority of classes offered as Hatha classes, however, will be focused less on flow and more on stretching, breathing, and meditation. While this may seem different from all the other weight-loss options we’ve provided, the practices offered in Hatha classes are important for maintaining an overall sense of well-being, which is what will help keep you feeling your best at the right weight for your body.
Slowing down and experiencing each pose is where that body awareness we talked earlier about comes from. When you learn how your body should feel in certain situations, you’re more in tune with how you feel when it’s out of whack. Plus, it’s always nice to give your body a break from high-intensity workouts to help better restore your muscles.
You can find classes in these styles of yoga (and more) in your city at HealingRadius.com!
Kat Wiseman is a content writer for Span Enterprises in Rock Hill, SC. She has a B.A. in English-Creative Writing from Winthrop University and her RYT 200 from Yoga Alliance. When she's not writing or doing yoga, she enjoys Netflix marathons, mystery novels, and being at the beach.