Different yoga practices and the best yoga mats to use

Different yoga practices and the best yoga mats
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There are many different types of yoga practices out there, and it should be known that no yoga practice or style is superior to the other, your compatibility to a certain type of yoga practice will depend on your fitness level and preference.

Originally, yoga is designed for expanding spiritual energy through the use of mental focus and breathing methods, not fitness. Through the years and into the emergence of modern yoga, it has evolved into focusing not only on spiritual and mental aspects but also in strength, flexibility, breathing, and as an exercise.

Discussed here are the different types of yoga and which yoga mat best suits that type of yoga practice.

Branches of Yoga

The word yoga means union or connection, either union with God, union with the little, or union of the ego-self with the divine spirit or infinite spirit. This alone can entail that ever since yoga has solely been focused on the mental and spiritual aspects. 

Yoga has six branches, and in order for you to deeply understand its branches and philosophies, you can use the simplest way which is visualizing a tree. The branches of yoga literally refer to a tree and its parts, the roots, blossoms, branches, trunks, and fruit. And within each ‘branch’ lies a specific focus and set of characteristics.

However, before diving into the six branches of yoga, let’s first discuss some key terms.

Dualism – Dualism is the belief system that nature or ‘Prakriti’ is separated from consciousness, meaning separating or distinguishing yourself from everything else around you, including God.

Non-dualism – This is the opposite of dualism wherein you consider everything as ‘One’. This means that everything, nature, the divine, consciousness, and even yourself consists of the same thing, therefore there is no separation between anyone and anything.

Brahmin – These are people who are considered to be members or part of the high caste. These are people who are either born into prosperous families or have well-paid and respected jobs. Most often these people are royals, scholars, or priests.

Householder –  In contrast to brahmins, these are people who have a simple or difficult life. These are mostly people who work hard in order to maintain jobs to support their livelihood and families.

The reason why these keywords are discussed is that they will be tackled as you move forward in reading this article.

Here are the six branches of yoga:

Raja Yoga

Raja yoga is also recognized as ‘classical yoga’. This yoga means Royal, King, or Chief and is suggested as the ‘highest’ or ‘best’ form of yoga.

This branch of yoga is contemplative and precise. It aims the ‘control’ of the thoughts and intellect of an individual through the use of meditation. It mostly focuses on finding a connection with inner consciousness by separating yourself from your ego-based self and connection with the true or universal self.

Primary Practices: Meditation

Belief: Dual

Originally intended for: Brahmins

Bhakti Yoga

This yoga practice means ‘devotion’ and is derived from the root word ‘Bhaj’ whose essence is to ‘share’. This yoga solely focuses on the concept of love and devotion for a chosen deity or Ishta devata which also means that all actions are dedicated to a deity.

Primary Practices: Mantra, meditation, and devotional rituals

Belief: Dual

Originally intended for: Householders

Karma Yoga

Karma is derived from the root word ‘kri’ which means ‘to do’, this is also the reason why it  is referred to as the yoga of action or also known as ‘religion of love’. This yoga is circulated on the idea of doing acts of selflessness without expecting any reward in return. It also promotes the belief that any action that is done has a corresponding consequence.

Primary Practices: Mindfulness, acts of selflessness, and ahimsa or non-violence

Belief: Depends on the perspective of the practitioner

Originally intended for: Householders

Hatha Yoga

Hatha is derived from the words sun (Ha) and moon (Tha) and is also known as the yoga of force. This branch of yoga focuses on the idea of balancing the sun and moon energies that lies within us. Hatha yoga is a modern branch of yoga that deals with the usage of the physical body. However, the real essence of this yoga branch is to transform the body and mind through movement and physical ‘force’.

Primary Practices: Asana, Various yoga practices, Mantra, and rituals

Belief: Non-dual

Originally intended for: Householders

Jnana Yoga

This yoga means wisdom or knowledge and is known as the yoga of ‘knowing’ or realizing one’s truth. Although difficult, this yoga is considered as one of the most effective ways to enlightenment.

Primary Practices: Meditation

Belief: Dependant on the practitioner’s perspective. Jnana yogis are often ‘open-minded’

Originally intended for: Brahmins

Tantra Yoga

Tantra yoga comes from the root word ‘Tan” which means to weave or expand. This yoga is about the exploration of all sensations, energies, and aspects that interconnect through the body and mind, and actually started as a religion.

Primary Practices: Mantra, Asana, Meditation, and Visualization

Belief: Non-dual

Intended for: Householders

Different yoga practices and the best yoga mat to use

There are many different types of yoga practices out there, and each of them have their own style. The importance of knowing each yoga practice is you can identify which one best suits you or corresponds with your style, fitness level, and preference.

Vinyasa Yoga

Vinyasa yoga is a type of yoga practice which consists of changing from one asana to another through smooth and continuous movements, which is why it is also referred to as ‘flow yoga’. Often confused as ‘power yoga’, this yoga is focused on promoting a more balanced body.

The connection of movements in vinyasa is accomplished by connecting movements with breaths. 

Linking or flowing is one way of putting this. Although what can make this yoga practice more challenging are the transitions between asanas, this is because transitions themselves can also be considered as postures, and oftentimes can be the cause of injuries and instability.

Pros
  • Has a strong grip and traction
  • Can provide additional cushion
  • Durable
  • Lightweight
  • Has good anti-slip properties
  • Closed-cell construction
  • Has good absorbent material which is good in preventing moisture build-up
  • Latex-free
  • Can provide good support for your joints
  • Long-life guarantee
Cons
  • Sensitive to sunlight and can become brittle when exposed for too long
  • Color can also fade from sun exposure
  • Has that bad odor when first unrolled
  • Should be kept in a bag

One of Gaiam’s best selling yoga mats guarantees a slip and worry-free session with the Gaiam Sol Dry Grip Yoga Mat. This is considered as one of Gaiam’s premium line of yoga mats made for yogis. This yoga mat has a topcoat that can wick away moisture which is great for those yogis or practitioners that sweat a lot or engage in sweaty yoga practices.

This yoga mat is lightweight which makes it easy for you to carry it around. In addition to this, it has additional cushioning which provides additional protection for your joints.

Lastly, this yoga mat is made through rubber-free construction which is good for those who have allergic reactions or sensitivity to latex. Likewise, it is also free from six harmful phthalates, which makes it a healthy option.

Ashtanga Yoga

Ashtanga Yoga is similar to that of a vinyasa-style class. Ashtanga is a highly demanding yoga practice that makes you synchronize your movements with your breaths which will then require you to produce internal heat to purify the body.

Although, purification is not limited to your physical body but your mind as well. This yoga practice focuses on strength, stress management, flexibility, and inner peace.

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Pros
  • Durable
  • Provides good stability
  • Has good slip resistance
  • It has additional cushioning
  • Closed-cell construction
  • Latex-free
  • Has no odor even when first unpacked
  • Lifetime guarantee
  • Free from phthalates
Cons
  • Although latex-free, the material of this yoga mat is still made from PVC
  • It’s not equipped for traveling due to its weight
  • There can be some problems with the breaking down of the mat
  • It’s costly

Oftentimes, yogis who engage in Ashtanga yoga would have experienced replacing a number of mats due to the demand of this yoga practice, this being said, it is recommended that you use a yoga mat that is highly durable. 

Manduka PRO yoga mat is the best yoga mat for Ashtanga yoga. This yoga mat is highly durable and cannot be easily broken down. This yoga mat is guaranteed to last a lifetime, and you may even find yourself having trouble breaking it down.

As a bonus, this yoga mat has a closed-cell surface which is helpful against moisture, sweat, and preventing your yoga mat from becoming a breeding place for bacteria.

Hot and Bikram Yoga

Hot yoga is closely similar to that of Bikram Yoga, both of these yoga practices are done in a heated room or studio where the temperature is around 95 to 105 °F. Although they are often interchanged, Bikram is actually the original version of this yoga practice.

Hot yoga is like a flowing vinyasa style where an instructor shows the students a series of poses or asanas to be executed. Bikram, on the other hand, is another style of hot yoga wherein there is a specific set of 26 postures and is performed within 90 minutes.

Hot and Bikram yoga focuses on the stretching of the body, detoxification, and relief from both stress, injuries and other chronic pains.

Pros
  • It is a 2-in-1 yoga mat
  • Odorless as you keep on using it
  • Durable and lightweight
  • Non-toxic and free from phthalates, phenols, latex, rubber, and silicon
  • Easy to clean
  • Fair price
  • Good in preventing you from slipping
Cons
  • It has an odor from the first unroll
  • It is not dryer machine safe
  • You need to be mindful when drying this yoga mat because it absorbs water, you need to squeeze out the water and wrapped in a towel for drying

Aurorae Synergy 2-in-1 Yoga Mat is one of the latest yoga mats of Aurorae. This yoga mat is specially designed for Hot or Bikram yoga due to its combination of mat and towel which is ideal for sweaty sessions.

As you perspire, the better grip and performance this yoga mat will show you, the surface of this yoga mat is a lush non-slip microfiber towel as the bottom is a 5mm patented PER yoga mat. In addition to this, the thickness of this yoga mat offers a good balance between the floor and cushioning.

Other than its other features of being lightweight, soft, and easy to care for, what stands out the most for most yogis is its environmentally and health-friendly features. This yoga mat is free from toxins and chemicals which can harm both you and the environment.

Iyengar Yoga

While most yoga practices focus on stability and keeping your balance as you shift from one pose to another, Iyengar yoga is not the same, this type of yoga focuses on precision, alignment, timing, and sequencing.

Most yoga emphasizes their difficulty by the fast transition of poses, poses in Iyengar yoga, on the other hand, are held on longer.

What this yoga practice can do for you is it can improve both your psychological and physical health, can help release tension and stress, and it can bring into focus intelligence and clarity to the different parts of the body.

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Pros
  • Durable
  • It has a helpful alignment system
  • Has good grip and traction
  • It can keep you from slipping
  • Easy to carry and lightweight
  • Environment-friendly
Cons
  • Has a strong rubber smell
  • It’s quite pricey

As mentioned, Iyengar is a yoga practice that focuses on alignment and timing, that is why a yoga mat that has alignment marks is the best yoga mat for Iyengar yoga. 

Together with its cushioning, stability, and spacious features, this yoga mat’s alignment system can work as navigation and guidance as you execute poses. Not to mention, it is easy to carry and lightweight which makes it convenient for traveling or going around.

As a plus, this yoga mat is environmentally-friendly and is free from toxic materials and PVC.

Power Yoga

Power yoga is a type of yoga practice that has the same qualities as that of a fitness exercise. This yoga practice deals in promoting increased strength, stamina, flexibility, the build-up of internal heat, and reduction of stress as well.

The characteristics of a power yoga class include loud music, a hot environment, lots of movements, and a pumped-up class.

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Pros
  • Guaranteed to last for a long time
  • Durable
  • Light and easy to carry
  • Can prevent you from slipping
  • Closed-cell construction
  • Has absorbent material that is helpful against sweat and moisture
  • Free from latex
  • Capable of providing good grip
  • Has additional cushioning for extra comfort
Cons
  • Sun exposure can also cause the color of the mat to fade
  • Should be stored in a bag
  • Can have a strong odor when unpacked for the first time
  • Should be kept away from sunlight as much as possible as it can easily become brittle when exposed to sunlight

Power yoga is a high energy class that includes loud music and a multitude of movements and poses. Gaiam Sol Dry-Grip Yoga Mat is considered as the best yoga mat for this class due to its strong grip and anti-slip feature which is good in keeping you in place as you perform power yoga’s quick and multiple poses.

In addition to this, the yoga mat’s excellent absorbent feature is helpful as it can keep up with your intense workout and it can wick away sweat and moisture.

This yoga mat is also considered to have good durability which means it can withstand the multiple poses and intense routine of power yoga.

Hatha Yoga

Hatha yoga stands for a variety of meanings, in fact, there is an ongoing debate on what this yoga practice really means.

According to Eckhart Yoga, the west commonly refer to hatha as the balance between body and mind, with ‘ha’ referring to the sun, whilst ‘tha’ is to the moon, and finally having the ability to balance out both of these energies.

However, on more specific terms, ‘Hatha’ is equivalent to force and is recognized traditionally as ‘the yoga of force’ or ‘having the ability to reach a state of yoga through force’. So basically Hatha can be anything that you can do through the use of your body. 

This can mean that Ashtanga, Iyengar, and other forms of yoga can be considered as Hatha.

Find the best price online
Pros
  • Easy to clean and care for
  • Comfortable
  • Budget-friendly
  • Made from a thick foam material
  • It has a non-slip surface
  • Good absorption
  • Easy to carry and lightweight
  • Has various colors to choose from
Cons
  • Extra care of usage: Must be barefoot to make the yoga mat last longer
  • It can sometimes produce whiny or distracting sounds

It is mentioned that the different yoga practices out there can be considered as Hatha yoga, which is why an all-purpose yoga mat is an ideal candidate for this type of yoga practice.

The BalanceFrom GoYoga is an all-purpose yoga mat that can be versatile when in use. Not to mention it has both good grip and slip resistance which is helpful in keeping your balance whatever type of yoga it may be. 

In addition to its versatility, this yoga mat is also lightweight and comes with a carrying strap which makes it easy and convenient for you to carry and travel around. Its thickness can provide you with both comfort and stability due to its balance between floor feeling and cushioning.

The most eye-catching part is its price. BalanceFrom GoYoga is considered as one of the most budget-friendly yet quality yoga mats out there. This can make you worry-free from wasting money. You get an all-purpose yoga mat for half the price of most yoga mats out there.

Yin yoga

Yin yoga is passive compared to most yoga practices out there. This type of yoga focuses on meditation and the stretching of the connective tissues in the joints such as the knees, spine, sacrum, and pelvis.

Most positions yoga practice are seated and lying down, and poses are generally held for 3 to 5 minutes, in which the goal is to regulate the flow of your energy to your body.

Pros
  • Made with memory-foam type material
  • Very comfortable and has good cushioning
  • Has a non-slip surface
  • It has extra space for your yoga sessions
  • Lightweight
  • Durable
  • Free from latex
  • Open-cell
  • Antimicrobial
Cons
  • It’s not budget-friendly
  • Can have a rubber smell

As mentioned, yin yoga is a type of yoga practice wherein most poses are done either sitting or lying down. Hugger Mugger Ultimate Comfort Yoga Mat is recommended for this type of yoga mat due to its thickness and comfort. 

Hugger mugger’s material is very comfortable that it conforms to your body and bounces back as you use it. It also has a support feature that is helpful for those who have injuries or suffer from sore joints.

In addition to this, the yoga mat has a wider and larger surface which provides you more space for your asanas.

The other features of this yoga mat are that it is lightweight, durable, latex-free, and is antimicrobial.

Prenatal Yoga

Prenatal yoga is a type of yoga practice for pregnant women despite the month and due date of their pregnancy. This yoga practice combines controlled breathing, mental focus, and stretching which can assist in your due date by increasing your strength and flexibility during childbirth.

The benefits of prenatal yoga are that it can reduce your stress and improve your sleep during your pregnancy. It can also reduce headaches, lower back pain, and nausea.

This yoga class includes deep breaths, gentle stretching, and suitable postures.

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Highly durable and comes with a lifetime guarantee
  • Has good balance and stability
  • Closed-cell surface
  • Can provide you good balance and stability
  • Latex-free
  • Has good cushioning which can protect your joints and can give you comfort
  • Has a dry surface that can protect you by absorbing sweat and moisture
  • Sustainable and made of natural rubber
Cons
  • With its durability, it can take a while to break in the material
  • It’s quite pricey that most yoga mats

Manduka Pro Yoga Mat is a spacious yoga mat that comes with great comfort and cushioning which is great for those expectant mommies out there. Not to mention, it is highly durable which means you won’t have to worry about having to switch from time to time again.

The thickness of this yoga mat not only provides great cushioning but it also provides protection for your joints. It is versatile and you can use it on any surface, whether it be cement, carpet or hardwood floor.

This yoga mat can also assist you in maintaining balance and can protect you from moisture and bacteria with its closed-cell surface.

Restorative yoga

Just like yin yoga, restorative yoga is a passive type of yoga practice. The movements are slow-paced and both classes last for 90 minutes. Both these practices aim at calming the mind and nervous system. These yoga practices are gentle and are great for all levels whether they be beginners or professional yogis.

What differentiates restorative yoga from yin yoga is in the name itself. Restorative yoga literally means to ‘restore’ this means, this yoga practice can provide ailments and healings to some injuries or soreness in your body.

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Pros
  • Has non-slip material
  • Lightweight and easy to carry which makes it travel-friendly
  • Has multiple colors to choose from
  • Non-toxic and eco-friendly
  • Has a wide surface for extra space
Cons
  • May be too wide for some users
  • Has moderate durability

With this type of yoga practice, it is recommended that you use REEHUT High-Density Yoga Mat. This yoga mat is thick enough to provide you comfort and good cushioning. It also has non-slip material which is great in protecting you from falling or slipping.

It has a wide surface which can give you extra space for your yoga sessions. It is also made from environmentally-friendly materials and is free from toxins and harmful chemicals.

As a bonus, this yoga mat is lightweight and comes with a carrying strap which makes it easy for you to go to different places without the hassle.

Conclusion

Although yoga is known universally, there are some who are not aware that yoga comes in different styles or forms, and that each style has its own set of characteristics. 

With this said, some yoga mats may not be able to withstand the intensity of a particular yoga practice or it is not compatible with that practice and cannot bring out the best of your performance.

Hopefully, through this article, you were able to get an idea of which are the best-recommended yoga mats for each practice and that purchasing a mat will become easier for you.

Help other yogis by sharing this article, you may never know that through simply sharing this article you will be able to help someone invest in the right things

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