By: Emma Hickey
Yoga is the perfect form of exercise. It’s relaxing while also challenging, and it works out not just your body but your mind, too. There are also so many different types of yoga styles out there, making it possible to find a style that gives you exactly what you need from your practice, even when what you need changes from day to day. There’s a yoga style for every fleeting mood, every disposition, and every goal out there. That’s the beauty of yoga—it doesn’t have to merely exist in your life, it can actively complement your life. No matter what kind of work day (or life day) you had, there’s a type of yoga well-suited to it. Check out the list below to determine which yoga style is best for which type of day.
1. Hatha for a stressful day
The Sanskrit word “hatha” refers to all styles of yoga that teach physical poses. In most western yoga studios, it specifically refers to a slower paced style of yoga where you hold each position for a few minutes before moving on. Not only is this a great option if you’re a beginner, it will also help you release tension in tight muscles after a stressful day. In a hatha style class, you’ll stretch your muscles, focus on deep breathing, and release tension from your body. If you go into a hatha class feeling stressed, you can bet you’ll come out feeling much better.
2. Restorative yoga for an exhausting day
During those days when you’re bone tired and can’t possibly imagine yourself making it to the gym, turn to restorative yoga. This yoga style focuses on practicing stillness and mindfulness. Your class will open with shavasana, also known as the corpse pose, and throughout the session you’ll move slowly through different poses, holding each one for quite a while. These poses are designed to trigger the parasympathetic nervous system, meaning they’ll slow your heart rate and relax your muscles. Some even refer to restorative yoga as adult nap time! Restorative yoga is the perfect way to get a light work out in even on the days when you feel too tired for exercise.
3. Kundalini yoga for a day when you can’t think clearly
All yoga is complex, but kundalini yoga is particularly complicated. The word kundalini refers to the energy that coils at the base of the spine and the purpose of kundalini yoga is to move that energy through all of your chakras. As you work the energy through your chakras in class, you’ll also do a combination of chanting, mantra repetition and breathing exercises. This works to open your body and is said to improve memory and awaken your mind by welcoming spiritual energy into your being and forcing your mind to focus. Even science has examined the effects kundalini yoga has on the mind. In 2016, Psychiatrist Helen Lavretsky ran a pilot study in which adults who were over 55 years old and were suffering from mild cognitive impairment practiced kundalini yoga for 12 weeks. At the end of the study, Lavretsky found significant improvement in her participants’ cognitive functioning. She attributes this to the “brain fitness effect” of kundalini. If you’re having one of those days where your brain is foggy and you feel like you can’t think, give kundalini yoga a shot.
4. Ashtanga for a day that made you mad
Ashtanga yoga is known for being “rigorous and energetic.” It moves quickly and isn’t meant for beginners. Because ashtanga yoga is so physically demanding, it’s perfect for when you need to get out some aggression. If your day has filled you with rage, put that energy to good use and channel it into ashtanga yoga practice, where you can burn it all off and get it out of your system.
5. Anusara for a day when you need a bit more goodness in your life
Anusara is a relatively new yoga style. It was founded as a hatha yoga flow 1997 by John Friend, who believed yoga was a time to celebrate the gift that is life. The term anusara means “flowing with grace,” “going with the flow,” and “following your heart.” In that spirit, these classes are typically uplifting and welcoming. Practicing anusara, even just for a day, is a great way to change your mood. Through this style of yoga, you can pull yourself into a more positive mindspace and open yourself up to goodness in your life.
6. Hot yoga for a day when you really need to sweat out your toxins
There are two types of hot yoga—bikram and heated vinyasa. Bikram yoga takes place in a room heated to 105 degrees, while heated vinyasa takes place in a room that’s anywhere between 78 and 95 degrees. Bikram yoga consists of a fixed series of postures and breathing exercises. It’s the same every time, allowing you to really focus on perfecting each position. Heated vinyasa yoga consists of a variety of poses. The most important thing with this style of yoga is that breathing and moving always happen simultaneously. If you’re having one of those days where your body feels like it’s been weighed down with toxins from the food you’ve eaten, the drinks you drank, or simply from the world around you, either bikram or heated vinyasa will help you get it out.