So you’re thinking of trying yoga? Great! No matter which form you choose, you are sure to get a good workout. However, it is important to make safety a priority. If you have any underlying medical conditions or physical limitations, some types of yoga will be better for you than others. In fact, certain kinds of yoga can be downright dangerous.

The word yoga means union, the union of mind, body and spirit. Most people have heard about the following forms of yoga:

  • Hatha
  • Kundalini
  • Vinyasa
  • Bikram

Let’s look at each of these in turn to help you decide which one/s might be right for you.

Hatha (HAA-THAA)

Hatha yoga is the most traditional of the yogas, at more than 5,000 years old. The word hatha means willful or forceful. Hatha is a combination of hat, sun and ha, moon.

It works with the physical body and the subtle body, also referred to as the energy centers of the body, such as chakras and meridians. The main focus in Hatha is on perfecting the poses through effort, concentration and meditation.

Kundalini yoga (CUNH-dah-LEE-KNEE)

Kundalini yoga has been practiced for more than 1,200 years and emphasizes chakra work, that is, working with the energy centers in the body to balance then and harness the energy within them for self-development.

There are no levels in Kundalini, but rather sets, or kriyas designed for specific purposes, such as weight loss, improving concentration, opening up the heart chakra, and so on. Most of the sets do not require a lot of flexibility or stamina and can be done by anyone at any age.

Vinyasa (Vin-YAH-sah)

Vinyasa yoga is also known as flow yoga. It uses the same asanas as hatha yoga, but instead of doing one pose at a time, the poses are put into a sequence so that the body is in constant motion.

A good example would be the popular sun salutations, of which there are a number of versions. Vinyasa does not have as much meditation as Hatha and Kundalini but it does focus on breath and boosts stamina.

Bikram (BEAK-Rahm)

Bikram yoga, founded in the 1970s, is also referred to as hot yoga. It uses 2 breathing patterns and 26 Hatha yoga postures only. The studio temperatures range from 80F to 110F with a humidity of around 75%. The heat and humidity can cause heart issues and severe dehydration, and is therefore not suitable for everyone.

If you want to do yoga for health reasons, steer clear of the strenuous Bikram. You’re sure to find one of the other types of studios near you, for a safe and fun workout no matter what your age and level of fitness.