What are the Different Types of Yoga?
From the outside, yoga just looks like … well, yoga. But there are actually quite a few different threads of the practice that vary in purpose and style. You may not always be able to visibly determine if a yoga style fits into a specific category, but understanding the different types may be able to help you pick one that works best for you. This may also be helpful if you’ve tried yoga and didn’t care for it — perhaps a style that’s more in line with your goals would be more enjoyable to practice. Here’s your basic breakdown of the nine styles of yoga.
Hatha yoga is the blanket term used to describe the branch of yoga that deals primarily with physical postures and positions. Some other styles are very closely related to Hatha yoga, such as Ashtanga and Iyengar, but have been modified slightly by the founding yogi. Hatha is widely considered one of the best entry-points for beginners since it moves at a slower pace and uses very basic poses.
Anusara yoga is closely aligned with Hatha yoga since it does focus largely on physical posture. However, Anusara uses those physical postures to guide students in spiritual self-focus and alignment, encouraging students to open their hearts and find their innate inner goodness.
Ashtanga yoga is a rigorous style of yoga both physically and mentally. Brought to the West by Pattabhi Jois in the 1970s, it requires specific movements to be done in a particular order. If you’ve ever taken a Vinyasa yoga class, Ashtanga follows the similar principle of sequence.
Bikram Choudhury developed Bikram yoga around 30 years ago and it’s extremely popular, but you’re more likely to see it referred to as hot yoga. Unlike hot yoga though, Bikram yoga follows the same sequence every time and is so particular about this sequence that Choudhury has trademarked the sequence and sued others who claim to teach Bikram yoga without using such sequence. Hot yoga is basically the same thing but without the required sequence.
Iyengar yoga is known for its extreme attention to detail and form. It focuses on proper alignment and posture and uses an arsenal of props such as blocks, straps and chairs to make sure the correct alignment is achieved. Because of its meticulous style, it’s a great option if you have a physical disability or injury.
Yin yoga is very closely aligned with restorative yoga, although yin yoga focuses a little bit more on meditation and the connection between mind and body. Both practices, however, emphasize a slower pace and the restoration of the body. You’ll usually find it taught in the evening since many people enjoy practicing it as an end to a busy day.
Vinyasa yoga may be one of the most popular forms in the West because it places a large emphasis on athletic performance and strength. It also concentrates on the flow from one position to the next and is often adapted based on the instructor.
Kundalini yoga is largely known because of celebrities like Russell Brand who are devoted to the practice. Its primary purpose is to release internal energy and bring self-awareness, which is done through chanting, singing and meditating.
Jivamukti yoga was founded in 1984 as a blend of vinyasa yoga and Hindu teachings. Flow is similarly important, but the sequence of poses align with the five pillars of Hindu philosophy and incorporates some chanting and meditation.
- Lifestyle Staff