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Find Your Fit: The 5 Most Popular Yoga Styles
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 FitnessMagazine.com, October 2013.