Yoga is a centuries-old form of meditation and exercise. By focusing on your body and your breath, you establish a deeper mind-body connection, leading to a feeling of well-being. Yoga types vary widely, and knowing what type of yoga class you're taking helps you not only bring appropriate gear, but also prepare your mind and body for the class.
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Hot yoga has several variations, including Bikram yoga. You move through poses, called asanas, in a room that is heated to between 95 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit. The goal of the heat is to help you sweat, allowing you to sweat out the toxins in your body. In addition, the heat warms your ligaments and tendons quickly. Hot yoga is not recommended if you are pregnant. In addition, you need to cool down after class before going outside, especially in cold temperatures. Hydration after and during class is also key. However, the main concern with hot yoga is the potential for injury -- it is easy to overstretch in very warm environments.
Cold or Traditional Yoga
Cold yoga, or traditional yoga, comes in many forms, which involve breathing and forming asanas. Yoga is typically performed in a room that is either standard room temperature or slightly warmer, depending on the weather. Hatha yoga is one of the better known forms, which incorporates physical postures to purify and strengthen the body. A power class, where you move through poses quickly, flowing into one another, is called ashtanga yoga, and it is the most demanding type. Integral yoga involves chanting, meditation and focused breathing. In Iyengar yoga, you hold poses for some time, staying focused on correct technique. Kundalini yoga works on your energy and breathing. Viniyoga, which is ideal for beginners, provides a gentle synchronization of breath and body, while teaching asanas.
Similarities of Yoga Practices
Yoga is not a religion, but a philosophy with its roots in ancient India. Both hot and traditional forms of yoga use postures and breath control to aid in your yoga practice. Both are mindful and aim to create a sense of well-being, focusing on the present. The poses help you become more connected to your body and the universe, while increasing your strength and flexibility. In both types of classes, you need a yoga mat and water.
Differences Between the Yoga Practices
Traditional yoga provides a wider range of options, especially for those just learning about yoga. It promotes mindfulness and being in touch with your body, and many forms modify poses for different ability levels. In addition, it provides a wider range of choices in terms of your practice -- for example, enabling chanting and meditation for those who prefer it. Some hot yoga styles, such as Bikram yoga, are relatively rigid in the protocol, involving 26 asanas, repeated twice, and two breathing exercises. It does not incorporate meditation or chanting. In addition, the focus is on pushing your body further each time you approach a pose, increasing the potential for injury if you push beyond what your body can do.