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Published Tuesday Feb 04, 2020 by Christa Quattrocchi

Find Your Flow: Which Yoga Style is Right For You?

Yoga is an ancient practice believed to help unify the body, mind, and spirit. Over the years, we’ve seen more styles of yoga than Game of Thrones storylines, so we know it can be pretty overwhelming to try and differentiate them all. Just like searching for the perfect pair of jeans, you may have to try out many different yoga classes before finding the one. So, we’ve created the ultimate guide to yoga styles to help you find the right fit for you. 


Hatha 

Translated to ‘sun and moon,’ Hatha yoga is the entry point for physical and mental balance. 

What to expect: 
The foundations. Hatha classes are typically structured classical postures, focusing on the breath, proper alignment, and slow transitions. All movement is completed on both sides so you can walk away feeling blissfully balanced. 


Vinyasa 

Flow and let it go. Vinyasa is the kombucha of yoga, it’s pretty much available on every corner in a variety of flavors. 

What to expect: 
A creative, flowy, physically demanding class, Vinyasa lets you move through postures at a steady pace that matches the rhythm of your breath. Since each class is creatively crafted by its teacher, no two classes will be the same. Though one thing you can rely on time after time is the sanctuary of savasana or “corpse pose” (which is exactly what it sounds like—a reclined meditation to end class). 

Corpse pose

Power Yoga/Sculpt 

If you’ve ever thought, yoga isn’t a workout, think again. Power yoga is Vinyasa’s marathon-running friend.  

What to expect: 
A focus on strength training, possibly with the addition of weights. This energetic style of yoga is meant for those who want to incorporate strength training on the mat.  


Aerial  

On par with a Cirque-du-Soleil showcase, aerial yoga will elevate your practice—and we’re not speaking metaphorically. 

What to expect: 
You’ll climb into a hammock that’s suspended from the ceiling to get into juicier postures without all that joint pressure. Some describe the feeling as being in a cocoon, which can be especially healing for trauma survivors seeking a more protective space to practice. 

Aerial Yoga

Yin 

Dreaming of the day you can seamlessly slip into a full split? Yang’s other half brings you a smooth way to increase your flexibility by getting you into the deeper layers of connective tissue. 
 
What to expect: 
Long holds and a very grounded practice. Make sure to grab some props, like blocks, blankets, bolsters, and straps—they are your most fashionable toolset to finding more space! Yin postures are held for 3-5 minutes each, creating a greater depth of physical and mental stillness. Pro Tip: If you’re a fitness junkie, check out a Yin class once per week as a counterbalance to all of that built-up muscle tension. 


Bikram 

Are you someone that gets lunch from the same place every day? Creatures of habit, this one’s for you. The yoga system developed by Bikram Choudhury in the 20th century is made up of 26 postures and two breath techniques (AKA 26+2)
 
What to expect: 
Sweat. You’ll practice in a carpeted, mirrored room heated to 105. Not to be confused with ‘hot power yoga,’ these 26 poses are always taught sequentially, and instructors don’t have creative freedom. 

Yoga foot stretch

Ashtanga 

As if yoga didn’t already require enough self-discipline, K. Pattabhi Jois leveled up with his modern system of Ashtanga yoga. This physically demanding method requires yogis to practice a progressively structured series of postures. 
 
What to expect: 
Independence, baby! If it’s your first time, you’ll want to register for a ‘led’ class, as the series are typically practiced in silent, un-guided spaces where you can come and go as you please. Each pose is held for five breaths to cultivate strength in the discomfort. 

Kundalini 

Kundalini is the loveable, eccentric aunt, dressed in all white and inviting more than just physical modalities of yoga to activate the sacred, spiritual energy located at the base of your spine. 
 
What to expect: 
Kundalini classes are sequenced based on what is known as a kriya—a series of postures, breathing methods, or chants practiced for minutes at a time. Be prepared to use your voice and fire up that core! This one is stealthy in bringing on the soreness. 

Candlelit Child's Pose

Iyengar 

B.K.S. Iyengar was a dude all about that alignment. And could you blame him? No one is looking to get hurt doing yoga
 
What to expect: 
Props, props, props! Grab those blocks, straps, blankets, even chairs (yes, the ones you sit in) on the way in. Some studios even have a wall configured with props to help you enter postures in the proper alignment. Offerings are typically classified by level, so if you’re new, start with Level I and work your way up as you become more comfortable.

Christa Quattrocchi Headshot
Written by
Christa Quattrocchi
Acquisition Program Manager
About the author
Christa is a 300hr certified yoga instructor on a soulful journey to integrate spiritual practices, such as astrology, tarot, and pranayama, in her guidance both on and off the mat. She is Mindbody’s resident witch and advertising aficionado. Beyond her credentials, you can find Christa channeling creativity through writing, cooking plant-based goodness, & surfing her home waters in sunny San Diego.
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The Latest
Published Tuesday May 19, 2020 by Shanila Sattar

Top Breathing Exercises for Anxiety and Depression and The New Normal

Meditation
Renewal
Personal Growth
Expert Advice

Inhale. 
 
 
Have you been feeling it? The big emotion floating around the last few weeks is the Big Anxiety. Coupled with the stress of what the COVID-19 pandemic has bought for millions of people, disturbed wellness routines, and worry, we have a recipe to create massive damage to ourselves. 
 
 
Exhale. 
 
 
Adjusting to the new normal, with social distancing practices in place and adapting to precautions and routines, may be the root of even more anxiousness for many as we’re navigating uncharted territories.  


Long-term anxiety and stress can harm our bodies 

During times of high stress, our bodies experience a physiological strain, where essentially everything from our heart, muscles, blood, and energy have to work harder than needed in order to keep functioning at a minimum. Our body’s natural processes, like breathing, can get compromised, lessening the healing functions of the nervous system, and overworking our adrenal system. Stress management is almost non-existent. This overtaxing of the body disrupts the natural flow of energy and resources, and puts us in something known as the “fight or flight” mode. In this mode, we are constantly deciding if there is some kind of real danger and how to survive it. We feel these signals when our heart rate and blood pressure rise, our stress responses like sweating and either constricted or super fast breathing occur, and our feel-good hormones become compromised. 
  
As we process anxiety, not only do we mentally and emotionally feel the repercussions, we also physically confuse our systems that are doing their best to naturally heal us. Staying in a state of continued anxiety with an overactive sympathetic nervous system can be incredibly damaging to your health, even if it is a small amount of stress that collects over time. Stress suppresses our immunity, digestion, deep breathing, disrupts sleep, and eating patterns, impacts mood, energy levels, and much more.  


We are holding our breath

Studies show that over 50% of adults are essentially holding their breaths. They do a shallow type of breathing known as thoracic breathing, where you breathe lightly into your chest instead of into your diaphragm. For example, notice how you’re breathing right now. You’re likely holding your breath to some extent and you’re probably not breathing much at all. If you’re asked to partake in a deep breathing exercise now, you’ll puff up your chest and shoulders, and empty out your stomach. Guilty? 
  
If you’ve ever seen a baby breathe or the breathing technique of someone in deep sleep, you’ll notice that their bellies rise and fall; the oxygen goes directly into a natural deep belly breath. Adults, however, have become acclimated to holding our breaths without meaning to. When we can slow down and practice deep breathing, we send physical and neurological signals through our entire body that asks us to rest.  


Breathing exercises can reduce stress and anxiety

The great news is that there are easy breathing exercises we can do at home that do not take a lot of time or effort. An incredible tool that anyone can use in times of high stress is remembering to inhale and exhale. Yes, breathing. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention also recommended breathwork not simply as an immunity building tool, but as a way to balance emotional and mental wellbeing. Deep breathing and other breathwork improves the body’s overall functions; improves the respiratory system, builds protective mucus in the nose, oxygenates and blood and brain, improves digestion, alkalizes the full body, and much more. Each style of breathwork sends special physiological signals—some ask us our bodies to slow down and chill, to get out of fight mode, and bring us back to equilibrium where our body’s natural healing systems can be activated; some styles of breathwork ask to pump up and energize


Top breathing exercises to reduce anxiety and stress 

It’s common to find yourself rushing through breathing practices or feel like you need to set aside special time for it. But that’s the point. We get to slow down, and we get to implement these practices even if there are distractions, business, and no perfect zen meditation corners in our homes. We can do these anytime, anywhere. 
  
If you’ve been feeling any small symptoms of anxiousness or stress, now is the perfect time to incorporate some incredibly easy and effective breathwork techniques into your day-to-day. 


Belly breathing 

This breathing technique can be done at any time of the day, for as long as you want. It’s recommended to practice this for at least 30 seconds to start and several times throughout the day. It’s a breath technique to practice before going to sleep as well. As you’re doing this breath, imagine your stomach like a big pump. As you breathe in, you’re expanding; as you breathe out, you’re emptying out. 

1. Put your hands on your belly/abdomen area. 
 
 

2. Take a big breath through the nose and PUSH your hands away from the belly as you breathe in. Expand your stomach as much as possible and try not to puff up your chest. 
 
 

3. Slowly exhale through the mouth and constrict your belly inwards. Feel free to make a sound with the mouth when you do this.  
 
 

4. Repeat for a minimum of 30 seconds. 
 
 
  
  

6-7-8 Breath 

The 6-7-8 breath can be done at any time of the day to calm anxiousness and stress, especially before doing to sleep. It’s a self-soothing technique that helps relax and calm the nervous system. You can do this practice sitting up or laying down.  
  
1. Close down your eyes. 
 
 

2. Relax your mouth. 
 
 

3. Take a deep breath in through your nose for 6 full seconds. Count in your head and maintain an even pace. 
 
 

4. Hold this breath for 7 seconds. 
 
 

5. Pucker your mouth and exhale out through the mouth with a “whoooooossh” sound for 8 seconds. 
 
 

6. Repeat this 6-7-8 breath for at least 5 rounds, or as long as you wish. 
 
 


You can adjust the 6-7-8 counts to accommodate your pace. You can try a 4-5-6 sequence, or an 8-9-10 sequence. Play around with the length of time that feels good for your body. Some people love to sit by an analog clock for the ticking sound to help keep pace; some love to incorporate music. 


The Box Breath 

This is another easy technique that can be done at any time of the day. 

1. Breathe in for 4 seconds through the nose. 
 
 

2. Hold for 4 seconds. 
 
 

3. Exhale for 4 seconds through the nose. 
 
 

4. Hold for 4 seconds. 
 
 

5. Repeat at least 5 times. 
 
 

You can play around with the timing for 6 seconds, 8 seconds, and so on to see what works best for your body.

These are the top three breathwork techniques to manage anxiety and stress. Plenty of other techniques work on sleep, inner healing, subconscious programming, altered states of consciousness, and more. Play with the three techniques above and see what feels great for you. It’s common to find a sense of calm almost immediately, some gentle tingling, and relaxation! As we’re adjusting to the new normal, let’s all contribute to creating peace both inside and out. 

If you'd like to try a guided breathwork class with me, click here to find one that works with your schedule! For other breathwork classes, browse Mindbody

Shanila Sattar
Written by
Shanila Sattar
Founder, AlwaysPlay Studios
About the author
Shanila is a sound healer, breathwork coach, women’s researcher, and speaker. She trains sound healers and breathwork facilitators through her mobile studio, AlwaysPlay Studios, and is the founder of the Integrative Wellness Leaders based in Los Angeles. She practices integrative wellness - considering a person's emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. Her background is in tech, having co-founded an award-winning web agency, and in women’s research, specifically in mindsets, implicit bias, perfectionism, women's health, and societal experiences supported through the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Health, and several universities. She has implemented several health and wellbeing programs in underserved populations throughout Los Angeles. Shanila mentors women who are wellness entrepreneurs and on their confidence journey.