I sometimes feel that in the West, we forget what the true purpose and meaning of yoga is. These days, everyone seems to just want to work out hard and sweat in order to feel like they’ve accomplished something.

But the irony is that the intent of yoga is just the opposite – to stop “doing” and start “being.” The asanas or postures that are practiced in yoga are a means of becoming aware of our bodies and therefore using the body and as a path to higher consciousness and understanding . But even if you don’t have lofty spiritual goals with your practice, yoga can still be an amazing way to fall in love with your body.

Many of us are very negative towards our bodies. We look in the mirror and criticize ourselves for some seeming imperfection. We talk negatively to ourselves about our bodies. We compare our bodies to other people’s bodies and then feel bad about ourselves. It’s unusual for us to have thoughts like “I love my body,” “My body is amazing,” “I appreciate everything my body does for me.”

We mostly think things along the lines of “I wish my body were different,” “I don’t like this part or that part,” and “I’m too big.” We don’t appreciate our bodies, no wonder it doesn’t co-operate! Would you co-operate with someone who was not appreciating you? Not willingly I expect! What if there was a way to go from body-bashing to body-loving?  What if you could go from wishing your body was different to seeing how amazing it is?

Seeing our body in a whole new way helps us to appreciate what it can do. We’re less likely to take it for granted, especially since we can experience such a dramatic change in how we feel after practicing yoga.  We start to appreciate what our body can do for us.  Rather than looking at our body only as something to be assessed, measured and compared to others’, we start to see it as a part of us that helps us gain inner and outer strength, access deep peace and contentment, and even begin to live from a place of love.

So yoga can help you change how you feel about your body which will actually help you achieve the results you want much more easily, joyously and quickly!  Yoga can be a powerful force of positive transformation.  So which type of yoga do you choose? Here’s a quick explanation of five of the most common yoga styles practiced everywhere:

  1. Hatha – if you’re a beginner, this is a great introduction to basic poses and relaxation techniques, that relieve stress, provide physical exercise, and improve breathing.
  2. Vinyasa – to link the breath with movement and to build lean muscle mass throughout the body, which helps improve strength and flexibility, tones the abdominal muscles, and reduces the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes.
  3. Ashtanga – to help improve one’s spiritual self, relieve stress, improve coordination, and help with weight loss.
  4. Iyengar – to strengthen and bring the body into alignment, which helps improve balance, speed up recovery from an injury, and build up body strength.
  5. Bikram – to flush out toxins and to deeply stretch the muscles, which help speed up recovery from an injury, enhance flexibility, and cleanse the body.