If the holiday stress and food, waiting just around the corner, isn’t enough to motivate us to get to class, here’s an extra reminder why yoga can be just what we need during the more stressful, busy times of the year. Just in: a recent study published in Science Daily, conducted by researchers at Boston University School of Medicine found that yoga boosts mood more than other exercises like walking and working out at the gym. Yoga increases the level of gamma-aminobutyric acid in the brain, or GABA, which reduces mood and anxiety disorders. Drugs are usually prescribed for people with low GABA activity, so yoga is just the ticket for someone who suffers chronically or just seasonally (holiday craziness, winter blues, anyone?). It’s most important to take care of ourselves (and sometimes the most difficult) during the more chaotic times.
New Yorkers: to jump start your routine and give you one more incentive to hit the mat, Strala Yoga has teamed up with Daily Candy to offer a huge discount on unlimited classes this month and a three-hour workshop with Tara Stiles, founder of Strala Yoga and Deepak Chopra’s personal instructor.
The most important thing is to enjoy your exercise and find something that works for you–if you’re still searching for your perfect match or just want to mix it up, here are 6 popular yoga styles that are uniquely different and so much fun:
Anusara. Known for its attention on heart-opening and alignment. One of the fastest growing styles of yoga, developed by John Friend, Anusara is a spiritual practice with a strong sense of community. There is a philosophy behind the poses rooted in opening to grace by opening your heart and mind to new possibilities.
Hatha. Yoga teaches us to get in touch with our bodies in a way we might not have before. Hatha is a great place to begin this journey, with a gentle, slow-paced style moving through the different poses. The focus is on holding the poses and integrating your breathing in the movement.
Vinyasa. A more vigorous style of hatha yoga, based on a series of poses called Sun Salutations, in which movement is matched to the breath (vinyasa means breath-syncronized movement). If you’re someone who craves a more active yoga class, this one gets your heart pumping.
Ashtanga. An intense, flow-style yoga with a set series of eight poses–much like Power Yoga, a style inspired by Ashtanga. Get ready for a more athletic approach where you’ll sweat and feel like you ran a marathon.
Kundalini. While an emphasis on controlling the breath is part of all yoga practices, Kundalini explores it more deeply with a focus on balancing energy in the body. Chanting and meditation is integrated, making Kundalini a more spiritual and mental practice, to develop intuition and foster creativity.
Bikram. Hot yoga with a room temperature of up to 105 degrees F, to loosen tight muscles and sweat, which can be tremendously cleansing. One word of caution: dehydration. Most of us don’t get enough water in our daily routine, so the risk of dehydration in hot yoga is much greater.