Yoga has been a practiced tradition for thousands of years. Physical fitness meets mental discipline as practitioners have been known to accomplish dramatic feats, not the least of which is improving their health and wellbeing. While there are several types of yoga, let’s review the five most common forms that are practiced and easily found throughout the world. We’ll also discuss the benefits of yoga for divers.

Popular Types of Yoga

If you want to get started with yoga or if you want to get reacquainted with your mat, the following types of yoga are the most common. Also, they have been ranked from beginner-friendly to most challenging.

1. Hatha

Hatha is foundational yoga for beginners. Considered something of an umbrella term, hatha focuses on learning the basic movements found throughout different forms of yoga that you will work your way up to.

Unique characteristics of hatha include exaggerated movements, popular postures such as downward dog, and learning to focus on the breath. You’ll notice that your body will feel stretched, loose, and calm once you finish. Hatha yoga will help you build the core knowledge for the other classes to follow.

Hatha yoga can help divers who feel as if their back and shoulder muscles are tight and restrict their movement while diving. It’s also a great way to learn to become more familiar with your breath.

2. Ashtanga

Ashtanga might be what you have in mind if you have only seen yoga performed on television: It’s a class where you move from pose to pose, syncing the breath as you go. Ashtanga strengthens and expands your knowledge of the poses you learned in the basic hatha classes.

The focus on the breath in ashtanga is essential as it is your link from Point A to Point B during each movement. For example, you’ll breathe in as you begin a downward dog then breathe out as you push your hips back.

The nice thing about ashtanga is that the routine will always follow the same order of poses. For the recently advanced beginner, you can focus on learning the poses and not have to worry about going out of order or a surprise pose.

Since ashtanga is a more challenging physical workout, divers can look forward to the benefits of increased strength, better breath control, and improved endurance.

3. Vinyasa

Although vinyasa is the next level up, it’s very similar to ashtanga in that you’ll be moving from pose to pose while synchronizing the breath. The difference between the two is that there is no set format.

In general, the classes begin and end the same; you’ll start with warm-up poses such as sun salutations and end with a relaxing corpse pose. But other than that, all bets are off. It’s really up to the instructor.

Given that a vinyasa yoga class can go from 0 to 10 quickly, this makes it ideal for the diver who has made it through the first two grades and is looking for a physical challenge with surprises. Just like with ashtanga, vinyasa will improve breath control, strength, and endurance

4. Yin

Once you start taking yin yoga, you might feel like you’re taking a step back…until you go through your first deep pose. Yin yoga is focused on passive postures, which is the opposite of what you will do in ashtanga and vinyasa.

Yin yoga is a slow-paced class with many poses taking place on the ground. That doesn’t mean this class won’t be intense. The poses are held for much longer than you have become accustomed to in yang-based classes (ashtanga and vinyasa). For example, you might hold a pigeon pose stretch for three minutes!

This passive pose yoga is excellent for deep stretching the body and alleviating pressure from old injuries or surgeries. For the yoga-loving diver, yin is going to dramatically improve your range of motion while you’re in the water.

5. Birkam (Hot Yoga)

While yoga has been around for thousands of years, Birkam yoga, better known as hot yoga, is a relatively modern trend. Developed more than 30 years ago by Bikram Choudhury, students practice something similar to ashtanga yoga in an artificially heated room.

This will be one of the most challenging classes you try. Due to the added stress of the heat, poses that you felt comfortable with before might suddenly feel intense and challenging. Although it remains a controversial type of yoga, Birkam is an excellent way to test your mind and body while improving your physical health.

I would not recommend Birkam yoga for anyone with heat sensitivities or other medical complications. If you’re not sure about Birkam, consult with your doctor.

Which Type of Yoga Do You Practice?

Have you tried any of the types of yoga on our list? If so, which one? Did you notice any benefit? Curious about trying yoga? What questions do you have? Let us know in the comments below!


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