By Shelby Jones, ISPA

We all know the benefits of exercise, but when you combine that with meditation, stretching and a balanced diet you’re living what we call… a healthy spa lifestyle. September is National Yoga Month (as a pre-cursor to Spa Week Oct 10-16, of course) and spas around the country are offering classes to help you de-stress and clear out your mind. Stress is the No. 1 reason people go to the spa worldwide, and yoga is frequently a part of stress-reduction programs. If you need a reason to start stretching it might help to know that yoga helps improve muscle tone, flexibility and mobility, reduces stress and anxiety, and induces a sense of well-being.

According to ISPA’s research, yoga is the most popular mind, body and spirit treatment offered by spas; in fact, one in two resort/hotel spas offer these types of treatments. ISPA’s Medical Advisor, Dr. Brent Bauer, the director of the Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program at the Mayo Clinic recommends yoga and meditation for reducing stress. Dr. Bauer says, “When you slow your breathing through meditation, your autonomic nervous system (which plays a role in our ‘fight or flight’ response and also allows us to rest) slows down and you get a great relaxation response.”

Now that you know what yoga can do for you it’s time to find the type of yoga (there are several) for your lifestyle. Some of the more popular types of yoga include:

Ashtanga

This type of yoga was developed by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois (1915-2009), and involves synchronizing the breath through a series of postures. It’s also sometimes called power yoga and can be physically intense.

Bikram

This form of yoga is also known as hot yoga. Popularized in the 1970’s by Bikram Choudhury, it includes a set of 26 postures performed in a room heated to 105°. The heat allows for deeper stretching and injury prevention.

Hatha

A branch of yoga introduced in 15th century India. This is the most basic form of yoga and focuses on slow breathing and meditation. This is a great class to try if you are a beginner.

Iyengar

Developed in India by B.K.S. Iyengar, this type of yoga focuses on body alignment. Poses are held for a longer period of time to concentrate on proper placement.

Vinyasa

Literally translated this form of yoga means breath-synchronized movement. Your movements are matched to your breathing patterns. This is a more intense class, so seasoned yogis will want to check it out.

If you want to learn more about different spa treatments visit ISPA’s spa glossary at experienceispa.com.

Shelby Jones is based in Lexington, KY at the ISPA headquarters, Spa Week’s exclusive trade partner. She has worked as ISPA’s Public Relations Manager for five years where she connects with top media outlets to promote ISPA members and the spa lifestyle. To get in touch with Shelby please email her or follow @ISPADoYou on Twitter. If you’re in the spa industry, we encourage you to become a member of ISPA; weekly e-mails with pointers like these are just one small part of the package to help you succeed!