Humans are creatures of habit. Once we find something we like and in which we feel comfortable, we go back to it time and again. We fall into these patterns in relationships, daily activities, and even in our yoga practice.
We all come to the yoga mat for different reasons. Sometimes our reasons are physical, sometimes they are mental, sometimes they are energetic, and sometimes it’s a combo of the three. No matter your reason for being on the mat, it’s important to recognize that each style of yoga offers us a slice of healing on one or more of these levels. When we fall into habits and engage in one style of yoga over and over again, we miss out on opportunities to grow and expand ourselves in each of these ways.
So why should you practice different styles of yoga on a regular basis? Let’s look at some of the reasons:
When we engage in similar or repetitive movements over time, our bodies adjust to them. This is well-known in the fitness industry but the same can be said of yoga. When we practice different styles of yoga regularly, we are constantly building strength in core areas of our body. We engage, stretch, and open muscles and fascia. And, we are able to develop small muscles that stabilize joints and increase our mobility in a variety of ways.
The ultimate purpose of yoga is to control the modifications of the mind, and every style of yoga helps us to do that in different ways. In vinyasa yoga, we often turn our focus to different pranayama techniques and to the physical body. In yin and restorative styles we are guided slowly into deep relaxation and meditation that allow our minds to relinquish thought and be present to what is. And in yoga nidra, we are taken on a journey through states of consciousness to ultimately settle into a state deeper than sleep. Our minds, like our bodies, need variety and working through different practices helps us attack cycles of negative and repetitive thought and learn how to let them go.
Some styles of yoga invoke yin energy while others help us to cultivate yang. Leaning more into one energy over the other is appropriate at different times in our lives. The cyclical change in seasons, days, and even times of day can affect which type of energy we most need to focus on. Styles like yin, nidra, and restorative are great for helping us to connect with passive, subtle, creative, yin energy. Vinyasa, ashtanga, and buti yoga are better for helping us tap into fiery, active, yang energy. Allowing ourselves the freedom to practice a range of different yoga styles helps to ensure that we are giving our bodies, minds, and spirits what they most need on any given day.
Rotating different styles of practice into our lives helps us to feed ourselves on many levels and also helps us to continually evolve and grow. If you haven’t yet stepped outside of the box in terms of your personal practice, find a youtube video or drop into a studio class to try something different. You never know what you might experience!