If Jennifer Aniston's perpetually toned bod or a coworker's serenity during stressful times has convinced you to give yoga a try, you've come to the right place. We've put together a primer on styles that blast calories, promote relaxation, or increase your flexibility.
Read this and soon you'll be reaping the amazing benefits of this ancient form of exercise.
You Want to: Get a cardio-style endorphin rush
Pack water and a towel—most Bikram studios have a tropical climate, with temperatures around 105 degrees with 40 percent humidity. "The heat promotes sweating and warms up the body, making your muscles more flexible so they can stretch with less risk of injury," says Jennifer Lobo, co-owner of Bikram Yoga NYC.
This workout (and take our word for it—it's a legit workout) is set up like a typical fitness class: a warm up, 20 minutes of cardio (through a series of quick, heart-revving poses), followed by a cool down.
Signature pose: Standing Head to Knee (stretches and strengthens legs). Standing on your right leg with knee straight, lift your left leg and clasp your hands beneath your left foot. Straighten your left leg in front of you as much as you can, then lower your forehead toward your left knee. Hold for a few breaths, then repeat with the other leg.
You want to: Reduce your stress level
Can't drop everything and Eat, Pray, Love it off to an ashram? Try restorative yoga. Props such as bolsters, blankets, and blocks support your body so you can feel a deep release, poses are often held for 15 minutes, and snoozing is completely couth. "Letting go physically encourages the mind to do the same," says Judith Hanson Lasater, Ph.D., author of Relax and Renew: Restful Yoga for Stressful Times. "When we give the body support, that feeling can spill over into our emotional well-being," she says.
Signature pose: Back Release (eases mental and physical tension). Sit on the floor facing a chair or couch, then lie back and place your lower legs on the seat. Your knees and hips will be bent. Support your head with a pillow, cover your eyes with a small cloth or towel, and let your body sink into the floor.