Yoga may be the oldest … and newest … fitness craze. These days, yoga classes are offered at every gym and fitness center. You will also find yoga being taught in dedicated yoga centers, youth centers and church basements. Yoga is available on DVD and has its own cable channel. The problem lay not with finding a yoga class, but in choosing the best yoga class for you.

There are dozens of different types of yoga. While most practice many of the same basic poses, there is a difference in how fast the poses are done, are long the poses are held, and various emphasis on breathing and spirituality. The best type of yoga for beginners would be the forms that offer modifications to the really bendy poses. On the other hand, if you can already tuck your toes behind your ears, there are more advanced styles of yoga that you will enjoy.

The key to finding the best style of yoga is to keep trying out different classes and see which ones resonate with your body type and your spiritual needs. We have researched 10 of the most popular styles of yoga and provided a brief definition of each.

What Is Anusara Yoga?
While many yoga styles have been around for centuries, anusara yoga was established only in 1997 by its founder, John Friend. Anusara yoga is based on the poses of Hatha yoga, but with a deeper spiritual emphasis. The poses in anusara yoga emphasize the principles of strict body alignment and perfect posture.

What Is Ashtanga Yoga?
Ashtanga yoga is a very popular style of yoga in the modern world, but it might not be the best yoga style for beginners. It places great emphasis on linking breath to movement, and moves quickly from one pose to the next without a break. The body heats up quickly, so get ready to sweat if you try this form of yoga. It’s probably obvious why Ashtanga yoga is also called Power Yoga.

What Is Bikram Yoga?
Bikram yoga is yet another form of Hatha yoga. It was developed by its founder, Bikram Choudry, and always follows the same sequence of 26 poses throughout the 90-minute class. These 26 poses are said to work every part of the part of the body, from each vien to each ligament. Authentic Bikram yogal classes are held in a room the has been heated to 105 degrees. The idea is to warm the body for better flexibility and to sweat out impurities.

Other yoga classes, called Hot Yoga, also employ the technique of the overheated room, but they don’t necessarily follow the 26 Bikram poses. Yoga students with high blood pressure, heart disease or who may be at risk of developing heart disease are advised to talk to their doctor before practicing any form of exercise in an overheated room.

What Is Hatha Yoga?The Hatha yoga style is probably the most Westernized form of yoga, with more emphasis on breathing and stretching than on meditation. It is also the style of yoga you are most likely to find being taught to the general public.

What Is Integral Yoga?While practicing the same physical yoga poses as the other styles of yoga, Integral Yoga also incorporates verbal chanting, such as Kirtan, into the practice. There is a stronger emphasis on meditation, and more modifications of physical poses, making this a good option for yoga students who wish to reap the benefits of stress reduction without as much physical exertion as other yoga classes.

What Is Iyengar Yoga?
Iyengar yoga was developed by its namesale, B.K.S. Iyengar to try to make yoga accessible to all practitioners. To this end, he has developed a number of yoga aids such as foam blocks, ropes, belts and wooden props, to help each yoga student perfect their poses and postures. Instructors of the Iyengar yoga method are required to complete a demanding certification process, which helps guarantee the quality of instruction.

What Is Kripalu Yoga?
Kripalu yoga works to develop a strong connection between the mind and the body. It focuses freeing the prana, or life force, within our bodies, to dissipate stress and avoid illness. It is an intensely spiritual form of yoga, based on the belief that the body can and should be used to access spirit. A very holistic approach to yoga and overall health, Kripalu yoga moves through three phases of learning: Stage 1 teaches the yoga poses, Stage 2 develops concentration and awareness by holding the poses longer and Stage 3 moves from one pose to the next without rest. Many practitioners of Kripalu attend special yoga retreats held at various Kripalu yoga centers around the world.

What Is Kundalini Yoga?
Kundalini yoga is a classic style of yoga, brought the West in 1969 by Yogi Bhajan. It depicts Kundalini, or our life force, as a deep well of untapped energy residing at the base of our spine that can be tapped and utilized through various yoga postures and breathing techniques. The poses are not too advanced for the beginning yoga student.

What Is Sivananda Yoga?
Sivananda yoga is a very popular form of yoga all over the world. It is actually more of an integrated lifestyle than just an exercise class and attempts to integrate proper exercise, proper breathing, proper relaxation, and proper diet with proper thinking and meditation. Yes, that’s a lot of proper! So think of Sivananda yoga as a path that you follow but never quite finish, because there is always room for improvement in each of these 5 focus areas.

The poses used in Sivananda yoga are classic yoga poses, but with added emphasis on breath and relaxation.

What Is Vinyasa Yoga?
The term “vinyasa” simply translates to breath coordinated with movement. So in essence, most forms of yoga practice vinyasa to some degree. But authentic Vinyasa yoga, sometimes called vinyasa flow, moves quickly from one pose to the next with little or rest between moves. Unlike the more structured forms of yoga, such as the 26 Bikram yoga poses, there is no formal series of poses required in Vinyasa yoga … it is more about the technique of flowing from one movement into the next then following a prescribed series of movements. For this reason, you can attend a dozen different vinyasa yoga classes and have a dozen different experiences, as each instructor mixes in their favorite poses. Chanting is rarely included in vinyasa yoga classes, but many instructors will conclude the class with a short meditation.

Now that you’ve been introduced to 10 of the most popular yoga styles, it is time for you to get started! Browse the internet for local yoga classes, pick one the suits your preferred form of yoga, and get ready to get down with your down-dog!