In the massive world of yoga, you will hear about many styles; most of them divided into two main groups: Dynamic and Static.
- The most famous dynamic style is Vinyasa flow
- A great example of static yoga is Yin yoga.
- There are also some styles which combine both types of exercises – such as Ashtanga yoga.
Although practitioners who focus only on one kind often believe that their way is the only correct, in reality, both make a positive change on the body and have their own specific benefits.
Static yoga holds will improve our muscle strength through isometric muscle contraction. It happens when we hold the pose for at least 10 seconds. With time, we should try to hold the poses for longer and longer periods to improve our endurance. We can also try to contract and activate our muscles consciously and hence, add a bit of resistance to the pose. But, the real resistance training is dynamic yoga. It strengthens the muscles differently, through their entire range of motion. It also prepares the body to stay in the postures for more extended periods of time, or static yoga.
Regarding the flexibility, dynamic stretches only help in warming up the muscles and joints but have no long-term effects. It is where static yoga comes in, since holding the poses for longer periods of time is proved to be the best way to improve the flexibility of the muscles. A good start would be to hold the stretches for three series of 30 seconds. After some time, we should try to hold the stretch for 90 seconds at a time, if comfortable even longer.
Holding the poses at the point of subtle burning sensation is proven to improve our range of motion with consistent practice. We should be careful not to feel any pain though since this easily leads to injury. We can test our edges by entering the pose dynamically and move in it; and when we reach the most comfortable alignment, we can stop and try to remain still.
Static holds are perfect for therapeutic practice and have very relaxing energy, hence are perfect for stressful times. They also prepare the body for meditation and can have a sedative effect that is perfect to be done before sleep. On the other hand, dynamic exercise is more stimulating. It will raise our energy levels and bring happiness and ease into our day. Because dynamic activity wakes up the body, it is not recommended in the evening since it could disrupt our sleep.
As seen above, both ways of practicing are beneficial to our body and mind; and the best way to practice would be to implement both, rather than going down just one stream. This way, we will reach the full capacity of our body easily and safely. We can pick a few days for static and a few days for dynamic practice; or, do a short dynamic practice in the morning and hold the poses longer in the evening. Alternately, we can also consider combining them in one class. A correct order would be to start with dynamic yoga, to warm up the muscles, and then finish with static yoga to continue strengthening and deeply stretching them.