Restorative

WHAT IT IS

Less work, more relaxation. You’ll spend as many as 20 minutes each in just four to five simple poses (often they’re modifications of standard asanas) using strategically placed props.

BEST FOR

Rehabbing an injury, with blood flow and healing pushed to problem areas without straining them. A bolster under your knees while lying down, for example, supports the leg bones enough to let the muscles stop contracting. There’s also psychic cleansing: The mind goes to mush, then you feel like new. And it’s a great option if you’re simply tired one night and not up for a regular class.

WHO'S GOTTA HAVE IT

Everyone. Even if you’re devoted to your particular practice, taking the time to do a restorative class will give your body an active relaxation session.

NEED TO KNOW

Share what ails you with the teacher in private, before class, so they can pick poses that will lessen the pain of a slipped disk, for example.

CHEAT SHEET

Slow-mo doesn’t generate body heat, so bring along a sweatshirt, socks, and even a skull cap to stay warm, cozy, and cute.

FAMOUS FOR

Too low-key to be famous. Should be.

RESOURCES

Judith Hanson Lasater

Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy

Yin Yoga

WHAT IT IS

A quieter yoga practice, also called Taoist Yoga, focusing on lengthening connective tissue. It is meant to complement yang yoga—your muscle-forming practice. Yin means “the shady side of the mountain,” while Yang refers to the sunny side of the same mountain.

BEST FOR

Preparing the body and mind for meditation practice. You’ll develop a deeper, more thorough understanding of your entire body, aiding both your meditation and yang yoga.

WHO'S GOTTA HAVE IT

Patient students who don’t want to rush through poses. Early risers who like to exercise in the a.m. will find cool muscles allow them to target deep connective tissue. Menopausal women who tend to overheat. Yin Yoga will not warm you up internally so you’ll stay cool and comfortable.

NEED TO KNOW

The big goal here is increased flexibility and appreciating your individual abilities. “The fact that someone bends further than you isn’t an indication that they are healthier. It is only in relation to our own skeleton can we ask, ‘Am I adequately flexible and strong?’” says Paul Grilley, anatomy scholar and Yin yoga teacher.

CHEAT SHEET

Be prepared for long poses—they can be held from 5 to 20 minutes at a time. Yin yoga enables you to release deep bundles of tension in our key joints: ankles, knees, hips, three parts of the back, neck, and shoulders.

FAMOUS FOR

No one yet, it’s under the radar—for now.

RESOURCES

Official Yin Yoga website

Paul Grilley

Viniyoga

WHAT IT IS

Highly individualized yoga where the practitioner learns to adapt poses and goals to her own needs and abilities. Instead of focusing on stretching to get strong and flexible, Viniyoga uses the principles of proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF). PNF simply means warming up and contracting a muscle before stretching it. This decreases your chance of injury because lots of yoga styles focus on stretching to get strong and flexible, which can actually lead to overstretched ligaments and tendons, says Gary Kraftsow, founder of the American Viniyoga Institute.

BEST FOR

Personalized yoga for you. Viniyoga teachers usually work one-on-one with students so they’ll create a series and use modified asanas for your body and its limitations.

WHO'S GOTTA HAVE IT

Back-pain sufferers of all types from lower back to sciatica. Viniyoga will stabilize your sacrum, loosen back muscles, and balance out your spine.

NEED TO KNOW

NIH uses Kraftsow to help with yoga studies. Finding a qualified Viniyoga teacher is hard to find but worth it. If there’s no one in your area, attend a conference or invest in the products, which are well worth it.

CHEAT SHEET

Function wins over form so you’ll get what you need, not a generic pose that won’t help.

FAMOUS FOR

Yogi family history. Started by T. Krishnamacharya and now carried on by his son T.K.V. Desikachar and grandson, Kausthub Desikachar. Krishnamacharya’s brother-in-law is B.K.S Iyengar (see Iyengar) and Sri K. Pattabhi Jois (see Ashtanga) was his disciple. Talk about a good network.

RESOURCES

American Viniyoga Institute

Kripalu Yoga

WHAT IT IS

A three-level practice that teaches you to accept and heal your body. Start with getting to know how your body works in different poses and move towards meditation. Finally, tap deep into your body to find spontaneous flow in asanas and movement.

BEST FOR

Self-empowerment. Knowing what your body can really do is a powerful tool that’ll benefit your entire life.

WHO'S GOTTA HAVE IT

Newbies. You’ll learn the basics—from mechanics, to breathwork, to the spiritual side. Anyone looking for serious personal transformation.

NEED TO KNOW

Each physical gesture influences and is influenced by your mind and Kripalu opens that awareness. This practice will definitely take you deeper into your emotions, mind, and body.

CHEAT SHEET

Get ready to “get conscious” and talk openly about “self-discovery.” Kripalu has a signature vocabulary based around empowerment.

FAMOUS FOR

The Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Lenox, Mass. High-quality teacher training and tons of diverse programming year round by world-renowned instructors like Rodney Yee, Seane Corn, Beryl Bender Birch, and Ana Forrest.

RESOURCES

Official Kripalu website

Kripalu Yoga

WHAT IT IS

One of the world’s largest schools of yoga (nine ashrams, 19 centers, and more than 18,000 teachers trained worldwide), Sivananda uses a five-point philosophy in each class. These principles of breathing, relaxation, diet, exercise, and positive thinking work together as a lifestyle.

BEST FOR

Spiritual boosting. Each class opens and closes with chanting and meditation.

WHO'S GOTTA HAVE IT

Older yogis will find Sivananda’s vitality-boosting and disease-prevention are fresh ways to restore the body. Serious devotees looking for an intensive, ashram experience.

NEED TO KNOW

A vegetarian lifestyle is highly encouraged to better digestion and promote health.

CHEAT SHEET

Each class is based on 12 asanas and taught in the same way throughout the world. “Even though they are the same, the classes are never routine because each teacher brings his own spirit to the class,” says Rukmini, one of the teachers at the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Ranch in New York.

FAMOUS FOR

Old school ashrams in the West. From suggested donations to hours of chanting Bhakti yoga (religious devotion), Sivananda is not secular.

RESOURCES

Official Sivananda website

Jivamukti

WHAT IT IS

Created in by Sharon Gannon and David Life in 1984 in New York City, Jivamukti is a physical, edge-pushing practice that reintegrates yoga’s spiritual side for Western practitioners.

BEST FOR

Creating an authentic, all-encompassing yoga practice. Part of the five tenets (see Cheat Sheet below) include tolerance towards all forms of religious beliefs (bhakti) and vegetarianism (ahimsa).

WHO'S GOTTA HAVE IT

Traditionalists. Jivamukti is heavily rooted in the traditions of yogic scripture including Sanskrit chanting.

NEED TO KNOW

Jivamukti means “Liberation while Living,” which encourages students to find a state of enlightenment in and out of their practice.

CHEAT SHEET

Five tenets form the foundation of each class: scripture, bhakti (devotion to God), ahimsa (nonviolence), nada yoga (yoga of sound), and meditation.

FAMOUS FOR

Gannon and Life BFFs Sting and Trudie Styler. Among their five worldwide centers, the downtown New York City one draws celebs from Russell Simmons to Christy Turlington.

RESOURCES

Official Jivamukti website


Other

Baby Your Back

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Target your back pain with Viniyoga

A 2005 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that practicing yoga postures was more effective than traditional treatments for chronic lower-back pain. Here’s the guide to poses for the achey places.

learn more

Baby Your Back: Lower Back Pain

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Let go of Lower Back Pain with this Viniyoga sequence.

learn more

Don’t Miss Your Bliss

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A conversation with Jean Koerner reveals what a yoga teacher of twenty years (not 20-minutes) has to say about how yoga helps you gracefully thrive emotional and physical challenges.

learn more

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