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Find Your Fit: The 5 Most Popular Yoga Styles

  • Nathan Blaney


    Celebrity fan: Miranda Kerr

    Best for: Active rest days

    This is the "grandmother of yoga," according to Desiree Bartlett, yoga instructor in Los Angeles and creator of the Yoga for Beginners DVD. The base moves used in many other classes, such as downward dog, mountain, and chaturanga, were originally developed as part of this practice. Expect a gentle routine that's attainable for those who are just dipping their toes into the yoga world.

  • Karen Pearson


    Celebrity fan: Lady Gaga

    Best for: A real sweat

    Performed in a room heated to 105° with 40 percent humidity (to simulate the environment in yoga's home country of India), Bikram aims to boost the meditation factor by repeating the same 26-pose routine each class. "You won't see any sun salutations in Bikram classes," says Ashley Turner, yoga and meditation instructor in Los Angeles and creator of the Element Yoga for Strength and Flexibility DVD. This format skips flowing sequences for steady holds that allow you to deepen the stretch.

  • Chris Fanning


    Celebrity fan: Drew Barrymore

    Best for: Going with the flow

    Bartlett compares Vinyasa, the most popular practice across the globe, to a "dynamic dance" that moves fairly rapidly from pose to pose without breaks. Yogis with short attention spans will prefer this class over others like Bikram, for example, as the sequence is never the same from one session to the next. As a result, instructors can focus on a specific body part or goal each class.

  • Jean-Claude Winkler


    Celebrity fan: Bethenny Frankel

    Best for: A big calorie burn

    This derivative of Vinyasa is ideal for Type A individuals and athletes who don't have the attention span — or the desire — to move at the slower pace of other styles. "It moves quicker and meets runners and spinners at a higher pace that they are used to rather than forcing them to put on the brakes," Bartlett says. Expect more push-ups, more squats, and more sweat than with traditional Vinyasa.

  • Chris Fanning


    Celebrity fan: Madonna

    Best for: Losing — then catching — your breath

    This more vigorous style, making it well suited for athletes, attempts to "align and purify the nervous system," while building strength and grace, Bartlett says. Ashtanga is most similar to Vinyasa and power yoga in style. The differentiating factor: The poses become increasingly challenging as the class progresses. Participants are encouraged to keep their cool using ujjayi breath, which involves a steady inhale and exhale pattern that is driven from the back of the throat (think Darth Vader).

    Originally published on, October 2013.