What’s The Best Yoga Practice For You?
Not fluent in Sanskrit? No worries. This cheat sheet demystifies the most popular mat methods so you can pinpoint the yoga practice that perfectly fits your health and fitness goals.
Hoping to up your flexibility? Any of these classes will help.
You want to: Get a cardio-style endorphin rush
Be sure to pack water and a towel – most Bikram studios have a tropical climate, with temperatures around 40 degrees with 40 percent humidity (if you’re familiar with the concept of hot yoga then you know it can get sweaty). “The heat promotes sweating and warms up the body, making your muscles more flexible so that can stretch with less risk of injury,” says Bikram-yoga specialist Jennifer Lobo. Want to join a class? Here’s a list of the Bikram yoga school in the Western Cape and Gauteng.
Standing Head to Knee (stretches and strengthens legs). Standing on your right leg with knee straight, lift your left leg in front of you, bending your knee and clasping hands beneath your left foot. Straighten your left leg in front of you, then lower your forehead towards your left knee. Hold for a few breaths, then return to start and repeat with the other leg.
You want to: Reduce your stress levels
Can’t drop everything and Eat, Pray, Love it off to an ashram? Try Restorative yoga. Props such as bolsters, blankets and block support your body so you can feel a deep release, poses are often held for 15 minutes and snoozing is completely couth. “Letting go physically encourages the mind to do the same,” says physical therapist Judith Hanson Lasater, author of Relax and Renew: Restful Yoga for Stressful Times. “When we give the body support, that feeling can spill over into our emotional well-being.”
Back Release (eases mental and physical tension). Sit on the floor facing a chair or couch, then lie back and place your lower legs on the seat. Your knees and hips will be bent. Support your head with a pillow, cover your eyes with a small cloth or towel and let your body sink into the floor.
You want to: Drop a few kilos
This flab-melting workout will have you moving continuously from pose to pose. Because each Vinyasa Flow class is different (the pace, the poses and sequences vary), your muscles will always be challenged in new ways, which burns extra kilojoules. And there’s a bonus for boozehounds: “The twisting poses are great for recovering from a hangover,” says Vinyasa Flow instructor Kathryn Budig. Want to join a class? Here’s a list of Vinyasa classes in the Western Cape and Gauteng.
Chaturanga (works your shoulders, arms and core) Get into a push-up position, wrists beneath your shoulders. gaze forward and slowly lower yourself halfway, keeping your shoulders over your wrists and squeezing your elbows close to your body.
You want to: Boost your spirits
Think of it as Prozac in a pose. This method unwinds your body while lifting your mood. Each class concentrates on an inspirational idea (like feeling grounded or confident), which the style’s founder, John Friend, calls a “heart theme”. Expect chanting and oms and classic moves such as lunges and planks. You’ll probably partner up with a classmate for a few poses to experience “the joy of community” and for some extra stretching you wouldn’t be able to do on your own.
Downward-Facing Dog (stretches shoulders, arms and legs). Get into a push-up position. Push your hips back while keeping your arms and legs straight so your body forms and upside-down V. Slide your shoulder blades back, allowing your neck and chest to relax.
You want to: Build strength inside and out
This style may sound hardcore, but it’s name was actually inspired by the inner strength it develops. “Each session improves your posture and creates more confidence, which breeds self-empowerment,” says yoga expert Rudy Mettia. Plus there’s plenty of toning and lean-muscle building for your core, glutes and legs.
King Dancer (improves strength and balance). Stand on your left leg and bend your right knee so you can grab the top of your right foot with your right hand. Then extend your left arm in front of you and press you right leg behind you, leaning your torso forward slightly. allow your right hand to grasp your ankle. Hold for a few breaths, then switch sides.