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Daily downward-dogging can slim, stretch, and tone every limb, ligament, bone, and muscle of the body.

By Zeel Editorial Staff, Last updated: August 15, 2012

Yoga is a physical and spiritual discipline with its roots in ancient India. Today, the movement is as much a trend as food trucks and farmers markets, but with yoga, women (and yes, men too) get to flaunt their sinewy form in scant spandex outfits. Daily downward-dogging can slim, stretch, and tone every limb, ligament, bone, and muscle of the body.

Yoga improves bodily and mental health through a series of controlled poses and breathing patterns, some of which focus on relaxation techniques and others which develop flexibility, strength, balance, and concentration.

The arsenal of available yoga classes is constantly evolving to conform to its diverse following of students. For committed runners, there's the aerobically oriented Power Yoga. If you have a bad back, Iyengar Yoga, which uses props, may support your sacrum (the base of your spine) and tend to your twinges. And let's not forget moms-to-be, who can benefit from prenatal yoga - a gentle sequence that cultivates a healthy pregnancy and easy (well, easier) birth.

"Hatha" yoga

In western cultures, "hatha" can be used interchangeably with "yoga." Hatha is, by definition, the physical aspect of a yoga practice, and a hatha class may take the form of modern yoga styles like ashtanga, Iyengar, and Bikram. Hatha yoga dates back to 15th century India. It is the traditional approach to yoga exercises and breathing patterns that teaches its students to grow mentally and physically.

Hatha yoga routines consist of physical postures (asana), purification practices, poses, breathing exercises, and meditation. Asanas are the challenging exercises that work and strengthen your muscles. Through these demanding physical sequences, hatha improves balance, strength, and composure.

Physical Yoga Disciplines Powerful poses provide invigorating workouts that stretch, strengthen and slim the body from head to toe
Discipline Description Benefits
Ashtanga yoga Ashtanga yoga is based on a progression of six movements. The sequence involves sun...more Based on a progression of six movements, Ashtanga is a strenuous form of yoga.
Bikram yoga Bikram Yoga—or "hot yoga"—is a version of yoga that takes place in a room heated to 105...more Bikram Yoga works every part of the body. The detoxifying experience improves the...more
Jivamukti yoga In 1984, Sharon Gannon and David Life opened the first Jivamukti studio in...more Many Jivamukti students are vegans, environmentalists, and social activists - which is why...more
Power yoga In the 1980s Ashtanga fanatic Beryl Bender Birch decided that her yoga...more Power Yoga is for the athletic go-getter who is particularly interested in yoga as a...more
Vinyasa yoga (flow yoga) The term "vinyasa" is a recurring one that you'll come to hear over and...more During a Vinyasa style class, every movement and stretch coincides with an inhale or an...more

Meditative Yoga Disciplines Tap into the spiritual side of yoga with deep breathing, fluid sequences and a harmonious ohm
Discipline Description Benefits
Amrit yoga Amrit yoga is a physical, mental and spiritual practice all in one. Amrit...more Amrit encourages its students to recognize the limits of their body while working through a...more
Dahn yoga Dahn Yoga was founded in 1985 by Ilchi Lee, a Korean yogi with ADHD who...more Based on the traditional Korean system of Sun Do, Dahn Yoga is a combination of tai chi,...more
Ishta yoga ISHTA yoga - an acronym for Integrated Science of Hatha Tantra and...more Ishta yoga involves a sequence of physically challenging poses called asanas that...more
Kripalu yoga Kripalu Yoga acknowledges that not all students can bench press their own body weight or...more Kripalu Yoga is often considered more of a mental workout than a physical one.
Kundalini yoga Literally translating as "coil," Kundalini is based on the theory that everyone has a...more Kundalini yoga is a highly spiritual practice.

Restorative Yoga Disciplines Restorative yoga disciplines use restful positions like backbends and forward folds to relax, repair and renew the body
Discipline Description Benefits
Anusara yoga Anusara was founded in 1997 by John Friend, a former Iyengar yogi who...more In Anusara yoga, students are encouraged to achieve each pose to the best of their abilities...more
Iyengar yoga Iyengar is a type of yoga in which students use props to gradually ease into fundamental...more Iyengar props help novice students achieve what might otherwise be overly taxing yoga poses.
Laughter yoga (hasya yoga) If laughter is the best medicine, then a dose of Laughter Yoga might be...more Laughter yoga is based on the premise that the mind can't differentiate between real and...more
Prenatal yoga Pigeon pose with a baby-bump may be rather challenging - maybe even...more Prenatal yoga uses gentle movements and deep yogic breathing to help alleviate pregnancy...more
Svaroopa yoga Svaroopa is a gentle style of yoga distinguished by its four central poses...more Svaroopa is a gentle style of yoga distinguished by its four central poses - “the magic four.”
Viniyoga Viniyoga is a customized yoga practice with one-on-one instruction. The...more Viniyoga is a customized yoga practice with one-on-one instruction.

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