Yoga is one of those workouts you can’t help but love! There’s something for everyone: cardio training, breathing techniques, mobility and flexibility movements, strength training, and even endurance. A Yoga workout is JUST what you need to get in shape.
Of course, as a mother, you may not have endless hours to spend on your Yoga practice. You may be feeling a bit out of shape since your last child or you need to tighten up after years of taking care of your kids. Finding the right Yoga class can be a bit difficult. If you’re a newbie, you may be intimidated by some of those complex poses you see your fellow practitioners pulling off.
Don’t sweat it! The beauty of Yoga is that there are so many styles to try. It doesn’t matter where your fitness level is at you can find a Yoga practice that suits your needs.
Below, we take a look at the best 5 types of Yoga to try. These Yoga practices accommodate any strength or fitness level, and they can be done at home or at a Yoga studio. Read over each type carefully to see if it’s the right one for you…
For Beginners: Hatha Yoga
For those who aren’t quite at their peak fitness, Hatha Yoga is the perfect option for Yoga newbies!
What is Hatha Yoga? In Hatha Yoga, every movement combines the poses (asanas) with the breathing techniques (pranayamas). You’ll flow between poses, paying close attention to the rhythm of your breathing. It’s much more focused on finding that balance between body and breath than pushing you to the limits of your fitness and mobility.
Basic Hatha Yoga classes will help to develop flexibility, balance, and muscular endurance, yet is both relaxing and restorative at the same time. It will encourage better blood flow to your muscles and joints. You won’t feel achy or sore at the end of the workout, but you’ll feel happier, more energized, and less stressed.
This is the type of Yoga that involves the “Ommmm” chants. Most Hatha Yoga sessions start and end with chanting and relaxed poses. It’s a form of Yoga that will help to reduce anxiety and worries, bringing you into the “now” as you work between the various poses.
If you’re looking into a brand new Hatha Yoga class, try to find one that takes the time to move between the various poses. Ask the instructor about the “flow.” If they say it’s a faster flow, it means the class is a bit more advanced. You want to start with a slow “flow” and gradually speed up as you advance in the poses and breathing techniques.
Most beginner Yoga workouts you’ll find online are Hatha Yoga. It’s the best place to get started when you want to find out more about Yoga and what it can do to help you get fit.
For Stronger Mind and Body: Kundalini Yoga
If you want to emphasize the strength of mind as well as the body, Kundalini Yoga is the practice to try.
What is Kundalini Yoga? All Yoga practices focus on meditative and breathing techniques to some extent, but Kundalini places much more focus on the mind than the other types of Yoga. The movements are all designed to promote a better mind-body connection. You engage in chanting, mantras, meditative techniques, and breathing exercises that help to “center.”
According to an interview in Real Simple, the average Kundalini sessions is made up of:
- 20% meditation
- 20% breath work
- 10% relaxation
- 50% exercise (poses)
The fact that Kundalini Yoga focuses more on the mind means it’s excellent for mothers who have a lot of stress to deal with at home (what mother doesn’t, right?). Kundalini Yoga can help to take your mind off the unending chores at home, or the worries for your children. By focusing on the meditation, breath work, and relaxation exercises, you can have a few moments of peace in your day.
The flow between the various poses is slow. This is to bring the focus to mind as well as the body. You’ll still work up a sweat as you move through the poses, but you’ll be more concentrated on your mind-body connection and breathing.
The purpose of the Kundalini Yoga session is to release internal energy. Devotees of Kundalini believe there is a good deal of energy stored at the base of the spine, so all the asanas (poses) are intended to release that bottled-up energy. By doing so, the Yoga practice can re-energize practitioners and improve their mood.
Be warned: This is one of the most “out there” types of Yoga. You’ll do a lot of singing, chanting, and meditation. Kundalini is a much more spiritual practice than other Yoga, but it can help to bring balance to the busy, stressful life of a mother.
For Building Strength: Ashtanga Yoga
For those who want to get stronger, develop endurance, and increase mobility and flexibility, Ashtanga Yoga is the practice of choice!
What is Ashtanga Yoga? While most Yoga practices involve a changing series of movements, Ashtanga Yoga practice includes the same 70 poses executed in a 90 to 120-minute practice. The series rarely changes, so it’s easier for your body to adjust to the movements. The focus isn’t as much on breathing or meditative techniques, but on the way our bodies move.
However, make no mistake: this is NOT the easiest type of Yoga around! Trying to execute 70 poses in 90 minutes means there is a lot of transition between the various poses. You will push your body hard in these Yoga sessions. By the time you’ve hit the 90-minute mark, your muscles will be shaking, and you’ll be drenched in sweat. Yet you’ll be happy!
Ashtanga Yoga focuses on strength and endurance, though many of the movements improve flexibility. The flow between the poses will help to increase the mobility of your joints (hips, knees, elbows, shoulders, and spine). There is a good deal of focus on your spine, making this one of the best types of Yoga to correct lower back problems.
Best of all, this releases that flood of endorphins you get with more active exercise. This is a fairly fast-paced form of Yoga, one that gets your muscles working hard. Don’t expect to complete the full session on your first try. Be ready to take breaks and give your body a chance to recover from the tough poses. Over the course of weeks or months of regular practice, you’ll develop strength and endurance. Your joints will be more mobile, you’ll have greater flexibility, and you will feel a lot better overall.
Tip: To advance quickly, try to fit in an Ashtanga Yoga session at least three times a week. Regular practice is the key to adaptation. Within a month or so, you’ll find yourself keeping up with most of the movements.
For Weight Loss: Vinyasa Yoga
If your goal is to drop a few pounds of baby weight, you’ll love the active, fast-paced style of “flow” Yoga that is Vinyasa.
What is Vinyasa Yoga? Vinyasa Yoga, or Flow Yoga, is a type of Yoga practice that involves continuous movement. Instead of holding the poses (like in Ashtanga Yoga) to develop strength and endurance, the never-stopping Vinyasa Yoga focuses on cardiovascular endurance. The poses are the same as with other types of Yoga—it’s your flow that changes.
Beginners may have a hard time with Vinyasa Yoga at first. The session will transition between poses fairly quickly so it can be tough to learn the proper posture if you’re new to Yoga. For this reason, it’s recommended you graduate to Vinyasa Yoga AFTER spending a few months working at Hatha or Ashtanga Yoga.
The Sun Salutation is the most popular of the Vinyasa Yoga poses. It’s a series of lunges, bends, stretches, and movements that engage your entire body. You’ll find it’s one of the best Yoga poses for developing strength and flexibility.
However, the poses quickly move on to standing, seated, lunging, squatting poses that get your muscles working hard. The deep breathing techniques will keep your body supplied with the oxygen it needs to burn fat instead of blood sugar. Vinyasa Yoga is a fully aerobic exercise that can lead to serious fat-burning if done right.
Did You Know: You can burn up to 7 calories per minute in a Vinyasa Yoga session? In one hour, that’s more than 400 calories burned!
Vinyasa Yoga may be focused on circulation and cardiovascular endurance, but you’ll feel the burn in your muscles as well. The rapid transitions between poses will hit both muscular strength and endurance. Best of all, you’ll develop serious mobility and flexibility with constant movement. Definitely, a good reason to try Vinyasa Yoga!
For Better Flexibility/Mobility: Hot Yoga
If you want to counteract the muscle stiffness and limited joint mobility resulting from too long in bed/seated, Hot Yoga is the way to go!
What is Hot Yoga? Bikram Yoga, or Hot Yoga as it’s more commonly known, is a form of Yoga that involves a traditional Yoga practice in a room heated to 105 F. The room is also set to high humidity (at least 40%), so the result is A LOT of sweating.
But what most people don’t understand is that the Yoga is focused not on the sweating, but on loosening up muscles and joints. The high heat and humidity will help to encourage more flexibility and joint mobility. You’ll find it’s easier to sink deeper into those stretches and twisting poses than with other types of Yoga.
This, of course, can be a danger in and of itself. Many Bikram newbies will try to lean too far into the stretches, leading to injuries. It’s vital that you are careful with your movements and ONLY go as far as your joints allow.
The good news is that Bikram Yoga is ideal for amateurs. The 90-minute Hot Yoga session uses the same 26 poses and 2 breathing exercises every time. The session is perfectly structured from the moment you unroll your mat. It’s a great way to learn the basic Yoga poses if your goal is to transition to Ashtanga or Vinyasa Yoga, and it can help to limber up your muscles and joints.
Be warned: the movements may be basic, but it’s NOT an easy practice. Many people feel faint mid-way through the workout due to the heat and humidity. Make sure to have plenty of water handy, and hydrate regularly. Avoid eating for up to two hours before your Yoga class, as a full stomach can increase your chance of nausea. Make sure to get a Yoga mat that can handle A LOT of sweating.
These are the five types of Yoga to try for moms. While there are other types (Iyengar Yoga for those who want to improve their range of motion or Yin Yoga for a calm mind and body), these are the ones we recommend for busy mothers who want to get in shape and do exercise. These practices offer something for everyone!
Don’t worry if you don’t fall in love with a Yoga practice right away. Many people need to try two or three different practices before they find what works best for them. Be patient, make the most of each type of Yoga you try and do your best to learn the poses. Once you know the basic Yoga poses, you can start practicing at home. Yoga is a great way to get in shape, and it may be just what you need to give you a break from your busy life.