By Jennifer Dixon MBA ERYT 500 & Authorized Ashtanga Yoga Teacher
If you are the sort of person that thinks you need to run until your legs are falling off or, lift so heavy and so frequently that you walk around perpetually sore and tired, then this article is for you. You are probably a lot like I was almost ten years ago. I have ALWAYS been active–some may say, “hyper” or ADHD. I don’t like labels and my mother never let my teachers medicate me–her solution–was to “get my wiggles out.”
Yup, my mother’s cure for hyperactivity was to “go play in traffic.”
Thanks, mom. 😉
All joking aside, I have always been more on the active, energetic, never stop moving side of things which is why I loved the super exhausting, non-stop movement types of activities. I mean, marathon training was a dream because I could be outside running literally for hours on end with my dogs and when I was done, my brain was finally “off.”
Do you have a brain that doesn’t ever stop?
That is 100% me. You maybe never could focus well in school, or maybe in order to focus, you had to shut the door, turn off all music, close the blinds–basically get into a cave and then (of course) turn off the phone and tv. THEN, if you were lucky you could focus for a while–and with practice, that while becomes hours…but ONLY if there were no distractions.
You’re not alone, because –heck, I totally believe I AM NOT ALONE!
That’s why I NEVER thought I’d be able to do yoga. I remember going to my first class at my old office and it was seriously the most boring thing I had done…I dunno since my very first bi-lingual catholic wedding. (Seriously guys, don’t do that, ever…unless you’re in it and you have to.) I ended up finishing that class and then going on a run just to get some movement because it was basically the opposite of everything I needed at the time.
Yoga for Hyper People
Many years after that first (I’m sure it was a wonderful) yoga class…just not for me, I hurt myself doing that high intensity stuff that calmed my brain down. I did all the non-surgical options available at the time (you can read my bio here.) NOTHING kept my pain away. That’s when I was reintroduced to yoga–but this time, the right sort of yoga for me. That yoga was Power Yoga. It was a heated class–like well into the 90s (Fahrenheit people, don’t ask me what that is in Celcius!) At the beginning of class, I couldn’t move without pain, but at the end, I could touch my toes and not hurt! I was HOOKED. Not only because I didn’t hurt, but also because–for the first time since I had hurt myself and couldn’t exercise, my mind didn’t race 100 million miles per hour. AND GUESS WHAT….that effect lasted me HOURS!
In that first heated power class, laying in savasana (final resting pose) I was able to lay completely still –the folks in highschool that sat anywhere near me probably would NOT believe this. I wasn’t asleep, but I was completely relaxed and my mind wasn’t racing. It was basically heaven. I know some people use alcohol or illegal substances to get this level of peace, and all I had to do was spend 75 minutes in a blazing hot room moving my body with my breath.
In case you were wondering, Yoga is MUCH healthier and safer than the other methods mentioned above to get and keep a calm mind.
That’s why I wanted to write this article. I thought perhaps, you may be a bit on the hyper side, or if you’re not diagnosed (because I never was)–you may be the sort that can’t sit still, you can’t turn your brain off, you can’t seem to focus…if any of those traits sound like you, then maybe you should try one of these types of yoga.
Now listen, ALL of these are very physical practices. I am sending you to physical practices because your body needs to be tired for your brain to get tired–at least at first. I can promise you, with time and practice, you’ll be able to get your mind quiet without the use of these more vigorous practices, but at least at first, I definitely recommend these practices if you’re hyper.
The 5 BEST Types of Yoga for Hyper People
- Power Yoga
- Ashtanga Yoga
- Bikram Yoga (or Hot 26)
- Vinyasa Yoga
- HIT Yoga
Let me explain these a little bit further.
A couple of different schools of thought exist here on this particular type of practice. The one thing that stays true is that it is typically taught in a heated room. Usually not more than mid-90s but hey-if you get a room full of 20+ people all sweating and moving, it’s gonna get hotter. I wouldn’t recommend more than 105 though because that’s just silly.
Power Yoga varies depending on the “school” of thought. My training is Baron Baptiste style power yoga, which tends to have longer holds on the poses, forcing you to build strength and concentrate. Other schools of Power Yoga exist which lead to much more fluid, fast-paced classes. Those are my least favorite because it encourages me to pay less attention to what I’m doing and more attention to the choreography which usually equals I hurt myself. However, both types–the slow and fast-paced classes are very physical and will wear you out.
This was developed by my teacher’s father, Pattahbi Jois, in southern India. It is a series of postures linked together with your breath. Each posture is held for about 5 breaths (or more). It forces you to focus 1) at first on learning the sequence and 2) on your body because each day is a little different, so you can tell what is going on inside your own skin. It’s sometimes called a moving meditation because you visit the same postures every day focusing less and less on the postures (once you have learned them) and more and more on your breath and the sensations your body feels while in the postures.
Of course, there is MUCH more than the postures in Ashtanga Yoga, but for you, if you’re new, suffice it to say learning the postures takes your brain a little while (and effort) and the physicality of each posture is so challenging that your mind can’t race anymore! It’s heavenly. Manju Jois is in his 70s and he still travels across the globe teaching this style of yoga. It can be very beneficial to your body and mind, as you start to pay more attention to your breath and body–and connecting them. Manju blessed me to teach this style of yoga in January of 2019. I am honored to carry on his lineage each week at Thrive Yoga and Wellness.
Bikram Yoga or Hot 26
This particular yoga style has sort of fallen out of favor since the founder came under a lot of scrutiny for sexual misconduct. However, his terrible proclivities aside, the practice he developed is absolutely awesome if you’re looking for a great way to get your brain to slow down. You’re in a room that’s heated to 105 degrees, you do the same 26 postures twice, and you pray to God that you 1) survive (at first) 2) hold the poses (after you start to like the heat..which believe me, does happen.)
Because it is super hot and the holds are really long it requires a LOT of concentration AND effort. Can you stand on one foot for over a minute? Now, try doing it in a super hot room filled with other people. It’s challenging to say the least. You’ll find after 90 minutes that you are thoroughly stretched out, exhausted, and the squirrels in your mind can’t race because they too are super hot and tired.
This is a combination of Power Yoga and Ashtanga Yoga. These classes are typically not heated (but sometimes they can be) and are very physical. They combine movement with breath (like in Ashtanga yoga), and make you really pay attention because it is different every single class. Some teachers teach it slower, while others are much more dance-like with big dynamic movements and transitions. Keeping up alone can be a challenge both mentally and physically. When you combine the movement, the focus and the breathwork, you get a trifecta of awesomeness to help you calm down your busy mind. This is my husband’s favorite style of yoga because it is different every time and it is so challenging to keep up with.
HIT Yoga (High Intensity Training)
Relatively new to the scene, and sometimes seen as HIIT yoga (which is High Intensity Interval Training Yoga), this combines the magic of a strenuous yoga class with the strength and cardio conditioning found in typical exercise classes. The HIT Yoga class uses Yoga poses and Yoga Inspired postures to help you build strength, flexibility, focus, and cardio conditioning. This is a super low impact exercise, so it is GREAT for folks with back injuries. However, when you read low-impact you simply can NOT think that this style of yoga is not effective. It is an AMAZING style of practice, combining the best of Eastern movements with Western conditioning. PLUS, if you hate the heat, like in a Power Yoga Class, but you love the exercise component, then you’ll love HIT yoga because it is practiced in normal room temperature!
All of these yoga classes are great to help you build strength, flexibility, focus and –most importantly mental calmness. You HAVE the capacity to slow down the squirrels, you just have to figure out the right combination of movements and exercise to help you do just that. If you are in the Chattanooga Area, I invite you to come and practice with us at Thrive Yoga and Wellness. We offer over 40 classes a week (and all of these classes, except for Bikram), where you can move your body in a safe, low impact manner, still burn calories, and ultimately calm the squirrels that are in your hyper mind. If you’re not in the area, definitely check out our online membership, Thrive Online. Here you get access to an amazing community of yogis (probably a lot like you), you get a growing library of yoga and yoga inspired workout videos, and you have access to practice along with us, live each week! Plus, twice monthly, we will do live interactive workouts where you can come, turn on your camera and get real life feedback from me to help you stay motivated, safe, and practicing well into the future.
I hope that you have enjoyed reading this article. Let me know if there is a type of yoga that I didn’t include on this list, I can’t wait to hear your thoughts–because I KNOW this is not an exhaustive list by any means. You may be wondering why I didn’t suggest any of the slower yoga varieties like Yin or Restorative. That’s a topic for another blog post. 🙂