Finding Your Flow: Different Types of Yoga Explained

Are you looking to try a new yoga class, but don’t know what type? If the studio is simply listed as “Hatha,” it could be an eclectic mix of different styles. 

Before taking the class ask the instructor what type of poses will be done (held for awhile or faster-paced), if meditation and chanting are factored in and how physical versus meditative the overall experience might be – all this will help shape your understanding of whether that class is right for you!

As you start on your own yoga journey, it’s helpful to remember that not all practices fit into defined boxes – there’s a great deal of crossover between different yoga schools, as well as a diversity in teaching approaches. To find the right fit for you, try attending several types of classes and see what resonates most with you, but first have a read to this article and see which yoga type inspires you the most!

Established and non-established yoga types

When people talk about taking a yoga class, they typically mean learning postures (asanas) and breathing techniques of Hatha Yoga. All the yoga types explained in this article stem from Hatha Yoga, yet each has its own particular style and follows a unique path. 

For clarity the different yoga types listed in this article have been divided into two categories: established and non-established. Established yoga types are created, designed, and practiced within a specific school or tradition. Non-established yoga types are commonly found in fitness and wellness centers, but they usually don’t adhere to any particular school or tradition.

Established Yoga Types

1. Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga

Ashtanga Yoga is an energizing, invigorating practice that unites breath with movement to build strength and internal heat. Founded in 1948 by the late yoga master K. Pattabhi Jois of Mysore, India – Ashtanga Vinyasa classes require focus due to their fast-paced nature while keeping eyes fixed on predetermined gazing points (“Drishti”). The rigorous sequences may be challenging at times but reap numerous health benefits including improved flexibility, posture alignment and better digestion.

If you truly wish to experience the traditional practice of Ashtanga Yoga, it is important to seek guidance from a teacher certified in this practice. Here’s a comprehensive list of authorized Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga teachers – ensuring that your chosen teacher has all necessary skills and knowledge for a positive Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga journey!

2. Sivananda Yoga 

Are you ready to embark on a journey of spiritual discovery? Swami Sivananda’s centenary-old system invites us to delve deep into ourselves and uncover the answer to life’s greatest question—who am I. This philosophy encourages “serve, love, give, purify, meditate and realize” and observes five primary practices: asana (physical exercise), pranayama (proper breathing), savasana (relaxation), vegetarian dieting, vedanta (positive thinking) and dhyana (meditation). It was in 1957 when this age old tradition was brought from India by sage Swami Vishnu Devanada with the establishment of The International Sivannanda Yoga Centre.

3. Iyengar Yoga

Yogi B.K.S Iyengar has revolutionized the practice of yoga by focusing on using props to help achieve proper body alignment and placement for each pose – a perfect option even if you’re feeling limited due to an injury, lack of flexibility or weakness! In Iyengar classes attention is paid explicitly to body placement in each pose so one can move into their practice feeling empowered yet safe due to the slower paced nature encouraged by this practice!

4. Kundalini Yoga

In 1969, Yogi Bhajan opened the doors of spiritual enlightenment for all when he shared Kundalini Yoga with the West. This ancient practice seeks to guide us on a path towards inner peace and joy by combining physical postures, energizing breathwork, chanting and mantra meditation as we seek to activate energy up through our seven chakras. With his mission that everyone has an inherent right “to be healthy, happy and holy”, Yogi encourages each person along their unique journey of personal growth no matter what faith or tradition they may come from.

5. Bikram Yoga

Developed in the 1970s by its namesake Bikram Choudhury and founded at his College of India, this unique style is constructed from 26 poses aimed to create an overall healing experience for mind and body. The classes last 90 minutes and are taught in a heated studio set at 33 to 40 degrees Celsius (circa 105 degrees Fahrenheit)! 

6. Yin Yoga 

Yin yoga offers the perfect blend of physical and mental benefits for your body! This slower style is rooted in both martial arts and traditional yoga to promote joint circulation, flexibility, relaxation through deeper stretching of connective tissue. Through using props like bolsters, blankets or blocks Yin gives you a chance to really notice how gravity helps open up parts of your body as it targets hips, lower back & thighs – especially helpful if you’re needing recovery from tougher workouts too. Not only can this practice bring deep relief physically but having that time spent each week doing these poses can also benefit the mind greatly.

7. Other Yoga Types

You might also encounter the following yoga types:

Power Yoga: A physically intense type of yoga, deriving from Ashtanga Vinyasa, that combines vigorous sequences of sun salutations and poses to build muscle and strength along with flexibility.

Integral Yoga: A holistic approach to yoga involving physical postures, breath work, relaxation techniques, and meditation to cultivate harmony between the mind, body, and spirit.

Ishta Yoga: Combining elements from Hatha yoga styles with an emphasis on individualized alignment and posture sequencing tailored to each student’s anatomy.

Ananda Yoga: Centering around gentle flowing movement intended to evoke self-reflection and deepen spiritual awareness.

Restorative Yoga: A soothing practice focusing on relaxing into restful poses while being supported by props in order to encourage deep healing throughout the body.

Non Established Yoga Types

  • Vinyasa flow
  • Morning yoga
  • Morning flow
  • Yogalates
  • Inferno yoga
  • … and many more!

Beyond the various types of yoga mentioned in this article, there are many other. It can seem daunting to choose one yoga style that fits all. Take time with your journey through yoga practice – ultimately, you’ll find a practice that resonates with who you are! Yoga provides an incredible opportunity to explore yourself and grow in new ways; enjoy this journey wherever it leads!

References

  • Saraswati, S. “Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha”. 2008.
  • Swami, M. “Hatha yoga pradipika”. 2000.

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