How to Choose the Best Yoga for You

You want to: Drop a few pounds
Pick: Vinyasa Flow

This flab-melting workout will have you moving continuously (but not effortlessly) from pose to pose. Because each vinyasa flow class is different (the pace, poses, and sequences vary), your muscles will constantly be challenged in new ways, which burns extra calories. And there's a bonus for boozehounds:

"The twisting poses are great for recovering from a hangover," says Kathryn Budig, a vinyasa flow instructor in Los Angeles. "You're wringing yourself out, like a sponge."

Signature pose: Chaturanga (works your core, shoulders, and arms). Get into a pushup position, wrists beneath your shoulders. Gaze forward and slowly lower yourself halfway, keeping your shoulders over your wrists and squeezing your elbows close to your body.

You want to: Boost your spirits
Pick: Anusara

Think of it as Prozac in a pose. This method unwinds your body while lifting your mood. Each class focuses on an inspirational idea (like feeling grounded or embodying confidence), which the style's founder, John Friend, calls a "heart theme." Expect some chanting and oms (feel free to speak up or sit quietly) and lots of classic moves such as lunges and planks.

You'll probably partner up with a classmate for a pose or two to experience "the joy of community" and for some extra stretching you wouldn't be able to do on your own. (If your gym doesn't offer anusara, hatha is a worthy stand-in.)

Signature pose: Downward-Facing Dog (stretches arms, shoulders, and legs). Get into a pushup position. Push your hips back while keeping your arms and legs straight so your body forms an upside-down V. Slide your shoulder blades back, allowing your neck and chest to relax.

You want to: Build strength inside and out
Pick: Power Yoga

This style may sound hardcore, but its name was actually inspired by the inner strength it develops. "Each session improves your posture and creates more confidence, which breeds self-empowerment," says Rudy Mettia, founder of Corporalita Power Yoga in Los Angeles. That's not to say your muscles get off scot-free. Hardly. There's plenty of toning and lean muscle building for your core, legs, and glutes.

Signature pose: King Dancer (boosts strength and balance). Stand on your left leg and bend your right knee so you can grab the front of your right foot with your right hand. Then extend your left arm in front of you and press your right leg behind you, leaning your torso forward slightly. Allow your right hand to grasp your ankle. Hold for a few breaths, then switch sides.

You want to: Get a competitive edge
Pick: Yoga for Athletes

"Both competitive athletes and average women do lots of repetitive motions, which can lead to muscle imbalances and overuse injuries," says Emilie Smith, a Yoga for Athletes instructor in New York City.

"Yoga for Athletes works your body through its full range of motion to create symmetry and balance." After a dynamic warm up sequence and targeted strength-building poses, you'll finish with 15 to 20 minutes of longer, restorative stretches. Each class is designed to address specific student issues and rebalance the body.

Signature pose: Warrior III (builds strength and balance). Stand on your left leg with your right leg extended straight behind you, and raise your arms overhead, palms facing each other. Keeping your core tight, raise your right leg as you lower your torso toward the floor until your upper body forms a straight line with your right leg. Hold for a few breaths, then switch sides.

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