Want to take full advantage of that powerful collection of benefits? Read on for everything you need to know, whether you are a first timer or a regular looking to take your poses to a whole new level.
If you are just beginning or want the best mind/body combo, try Hatha
Poses are straightforward, and the pace unhurried. "You do a pose, come out of it, then do another," explains Mark Stephens, author of Teaching Yoga: Essential Foundations and Techniques. "It’s an excellent style for beginners." Props like blocks and bolsters are often used to help you get the right alignment. But it’s not just about the body, as your teacher will also encourage you to focus on breathing, relaxation, and meditation (which may involve chanting). And all of this mindfulness has a real-world benefit: A study in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine found that women who practice Hatha yoga once or twice a week recover from stress faster than those who don’t.
If you want to get slim, try Ashtanga Power Yoga
These two provide all the regular benefits of yoga with the fat-blasting bonus of a killer cardio session. Both styles focus on flowing from one pose to the next without restmaking for a terrific calorie burn (about 500 per hour). "The practice is meant to generate heat in your body," says Mandy Ingber, the yoga instructor behind Jennifer Aniston’s ageless body. So, yes, you will sweat. A lot.
In Ashtanga, the more traditional of the two, you’ll begin with chanting, then follow a sequence of poses ("asanas") that never changes. In a Power yoga class, the poses vary each time and there’s usually none of the spiritual aspect.
A large study in the journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine confirmsthat women get lean in these classes: Practicing yoga of any kind at least once a week for four years or more stavesoff middle-age spread.