There are many different types of yoga, and it is important to choose a form that is appropriate for each individual's level of fitness, goals, and medical condition. Some of the most popular and widely available forms are briefly explained below.
This type of yoga focuses on proper alignment and precise movements. Props such as blocks or straps are often used as part of Iyengar yoga for those who are not as flexible or to compensate for injuries. Because of this attention to detail and the modification of poses, Iyengar yoga is often a good form of yoga for people with back pain or neck pain, as they are likely to benefit from modification to the poses.
The following yoga pictures show some common yoga poses with modifications:
- Fig 1 (down dog): A common yoga pose that promotes stretching of the entire back of the body, and also helps develop arm and shoulder strength.
- Fig 2 (modified down dog): A modification of the pose for beginners using a wall. This pose is less intense, but still stretches the back of the body and engages the arms.
- Fig 3: Modification of a leg stretch for those who are less flexible by using a belt while the back rests.
- Fig 4 (triangle with block): A slight modification of a classic pose that promotes flexibility of the legs, spine, and shoulders, and also trains balance.
- Fig 5 (triangle with chair): The same pose made easier for beginners by using a chair for balance and decreasing the stretch, as well as modifying the twisting of the trunk.
This form is commonly called "power yoga" because it focuses on powerful flowing movements, such as push-ups and lunges, which take strength and stamina. Ashtanga yoga may be appropriate for those who have successfully rehabilitated from a back injury and are looking for a more strenuous practice, and people who are already athletic, such as runners and cyclists, who want to add flexibility, balance and concentration to their exercise routines.
This form is also known as "hot yoga" because it is done in a very warm room. Bikram yoga is excellent for increasing flexibility because the heat helps tissues to stretch. This type of yoga is not appropriate for those with cardiovascular disease because of the strain placed on the body when vigorously exercising in the heat.
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This form links breath and movement in flowing exercises that are adapted to each individual. Viniyoga is often a good form of yoga for those with back problems or neck problems because it is easily adapted for each person.
There are many other schools of yoga. Before taking a class, it is a good idea to discuss with the teacher his or her philosophy and emphasis in order to find the most appropriate and personally appealing form of yoga.
Yoga can become a rewarding, life-long activity that promotes health and maintains function as one ages. Because of the many modifications available and the different types of yoga, it can be a part of almost everyone's fitness plan, and the opportunities to advance and improve are endless.