Yoga is a thousands of years old form of exercise originally from India.
Over time a number of different variations have emerged from it, all of which have the same goal: balance of the body and mind. Almost all modern yoga styles are based on hatha yoga.
Today there are so many different types of yoga that the beginner easily battles with the difficulty of choice.
There is no need to choose only one style. Try different classes and choose what suits you the best.
The A to Z Guide to Different Yoga Styles
Ashtanga is a physically demanding form of yoga, which was introduced to the modern-day yogis by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois.
Ashtangais characterizedsportive, physicaland dynamic. The trainingalwaysconsists of the sameyoga poses, asanas, that are performedin a certain order. Ashtangais aSanskritword that means eightparts. It refers to theEightfold Pathof Yoga-Sutras, importantyoga philosophytexts.
Aerial Yoga combines traditional yoga to air acrobatics, creating a varied fitness workout for the whole body.
Long cloth loop (hammock) attached to the ceiling supports the weight of the body. Using a hammock makes it possible to perform demanding movements safely and peacefully. The force of gravity is used in order to reach a deeper and more relaxed state.
Originally from California AcroYoga combines yoga, couple acrobatics, and Thai massage.
Acro Yoga is usually practiced in pairs. Many of the exercises are based on one person lying on the floor with legs towards the sky and he/she then supports the second person who is doing the poses on the legs. An important parts of Acro Yoga are the management of the body, body alignment and trusting your partner.
Beginner Acro Yoga video by Dylan Werner Yoga & Ashley Galvin from YouTube
Acu-Yoga is a powerful, practical and easy to learn method that combines two ancient tradition: acupressure and yoga.
Breathing techniques and postures come from yoga and acupressure guides the flow of energy in your body through acupuncture points. Both methods relieve muscle tension and balance the body’s functions and maintain and regulate the energy flow.
Anusara means ”flowing with grace”.
Anusara yoga was created in 1997 by American yogi John Friend. Anusara lets you learn the philosophy behind yoga as well as the biomechanics of the movements. Anyone can practice Anusara in spite of their age or yoga skills.
In Aroma Yoga the yoga practice is supported with essential oils.
Essential oils are used with a diffuser so that the scent spreads through the space and influences the yoga practitioners. The other method is to apply the oils directly to the skin taking in consideration the desired effects. AromaYoga is not recommended for people with asthma.
Baptiste yoga integrates physical yoga practice with meditation and self-inquiry.
Baptiste yoga is based on Hatha Yoga teachings of Krishnamacharya and his students Iyengar and Desikachar. Walt Baptiste developed Baptiste Yoga in 1940’s and his son Baron continued the process. Baron Baptiste describes Baptiste Yoga practice as 20 percent mechanics and 80 percent spiritual psychology.
Bhakti Yoga is often a little more foreign form of yoga to the westerners. Bhakti yoga is the yoga of surrender and unfolding. Physical yoga postures, asanas, are not used in Bhakti Yoga. Bhakti is practiced by singing spiritual songs (Bhajan), repeating mantras, meditating and finding the highest consciousness in everything and in everyone.
Bikram Yoga is a variation of hot yoga developed by Bikram Choudhury.
Bikram Choudhury was the first person to start to heat the yoga studios, so Bikram Yoga is often called the original Hot Yoga. Bikram Yoga is based on 26 yoga poses and the class is held in a room heated up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius). The same 26 positions and two breathing exercises are performed in every Bikram class by beginners as well as more advanced students.
Hatha yogais “the original yoga”and has its rootsin Indianphilosophy.
Hatha yoga was the first yoga practice that began to use the physical exercises, asanas, in addition to meditation practice. Hatha yoga is the most common form of yoga in western countries. Calm and gentle Hatha yoga consists of basic poses and is the foundation to many modern yoga styles.
Beginner Hatha Yoga video by AnnetteBaileyYoga from YouTube
Read more about Hatha Yoga
In Hot Yoga the room is heated. The heat helps muscles to relax and stretch more making the exercises safer.
Hot Yoga is enhances power and energy. It promises to give its practitioner a great variety of health effects and increase well-being of body and mind.
Read more about Hot Yoga
Integral Yoga, as the name implies, integrates different forms of yoga.
It combines the 6 different branches of yoga into a versatile way of life. Integral yoga was developed by Sri Swami Satchidananda in India. Integral Yoga practice is a holistic experience. It strengthens the body, relieves stress and calms the mind. Training focuses on physical asana exercises, breathing exercises and creating a deep relaxation.
Iyengar Yoga is gymnastic, powerful form of hatha yoga that includes long stretches.
Yoga style was named after its founder, BKS Iyengar. Iyengar Yoga focuses on classical and demanding yoga postures. Ropes, straps, pillows and yoga bricks are used aiding the poses. Iyengar Yoga was originally designed to be very therapeutic and curative, where the teacher gives the students specific exercises.
Kundalini Yoga (Laya Yoga)
Kundalini Yoga is also known as yoga of consciousness.
Kundalini refers to the energy of life (primal energy, shakti) that is located at the base of the spine. Kundalini traditions teach methods of awakening this kundalini energy for the purpose of reaching spiritual enlightenment. Kundalini yoga exercises are aimed to provoke energy centers, chakras. Kundalini Yoga is dynamic and meditative form of yoga. It develops physical fitness, strengthens the nervous system and balances the endocrine system.
Partner Yoga / Couple Yoga
In Partner Yoga (Couple Yoga) two people learn how to do yoga exercises together and share the way-found harmony with each other. Couple Yoga is also a great way to give and get support for stretching yoga poses.
Power Yoga is a dynamic, flowing style of yoga. Power Yoga sequences are generally based on Asthanga Vinyasa yoga.
The exercises remain roughly the same consisting of sun salutations, standing poses, seating poses, and a series of short relaxation exercises. Power Yoga is particularly suitable for those interested in more sportive yoga.
Power Yoga strengthens and stretch the muscles. The exercises will make you sweat and help you develop better aerobic fitness.
Raja Yoga, or “Royal Yoga” means “yoga of the mind” where the emphasis is on concentration and meditation.
Raja Yoga practice aims to the state of trance through meditation. The origin of Raja-Yoga isn’t well known. It might be difficult to separate Raja Yoga from Hatha Yoga. Hatha is considered to be the first stage, or the physical branch, of Raja Yoga. Hatha Yoga leads to Raja Yoga when the mind calms down.
Restorative yoga is balancing and opening yoga style.
Yoga accessories that aid and support are used in the poses and the poses are held for a long time. Restorative Yoga practice may seem like meditative and quiet as the long poses provide an opportunity to calm the mind. Exercises balance the endocrine system and calm the nervous system.
Sahaja is ameditation techniquebased onself-realizationandawakening the kundalini energy.
Sahaja Yoga was developed by Nirmala Srivastava (1923-2011), better known as Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi. The term Sahaja also refers to the organization: Sahaja Yoga International (also known as Vishwa Nirmala Dharma). Sahaja Yoga movement began in India but was introduced to the west when Shri Mataji moved to England in 1974. Now it’s practiced in many countries around the world.
Sauna Yoga is yoga that is practiced in Sauna, heated to +120 °F (+50 °C).
Sauna Yoga is based on easy yoga movements that are done in seated poses. The exercise is body and soul-soothing experience. The warmth of the sauna and gentle yoga poses together help to release the tension in the body and calm the mind. The yoga sequence is 30-minutes long and consist of six poses. Sauna yoga accelerates metabolism, reduces stress and helps you to sleep better.
Sivananda yoga is a physically more demanding than Hatha yoga, but not as demanding as Ashtanga yoga. The exercise is built upon 12 classic yoga poses. Sivananda yoga practice makes the body more flexible and invigorates and balances the mind.
Pranayama breathing exercises and deep relaxation practice are part of Sivananda class. Many yoga asanas (poses) that are used in class can improve focus, memory and creativity. Sivananda yoga practice helps to relieve stress, grow strength and flexibility, activate metabolism and digestion and alleviate neck- and back pains.
Tao Yoga is based on old Taoist traditions.
Primary methods in Tao yoga are versatile physical exercises and meditation. The purpose of the exercises are to maintain and promote physical vitality, balance emotions and foster spirituality and clarity of the mind. In the beginning Tao Yoga practice focuses on relaxing, quieting down and feeling the chi-energy. These skills come in handy when the practice gets further.
In Tantra Yoga a religious exercise called sadhana consists of two parts: worshipping rituals and yoga. Often the yoga practice is part of the ritual. The moral codes and asana practices of traditional yoga are not considered to be part of tantric yoga. The main yoga practice in tantra is pranayama. Pranayama is a yoga breathing technique where the breathing is regulated through subtle control of the body.
Vini yoga is a yoga style that follows the teachings of TKV Desikachar and his father Krishnamacharya.
The purpose of Viniyoga practice is to promote health and personal development. Viniyoga teacher teaches each student individually. The classes are personalized and often have different themes.
Read more about Viniyoga: The American Viniyoga Institute.
Flowing movement that is bound to breathing is called Vinyasa.
Ashtanga yoga is considered to be the basis of modern Vinyasa practice but its roots are much deeper in the old Tantra Yoga philosophy. Vinyasa is dance like movement combined with breathing, mudras and mantras. Vinyasa Yoga was developed by T.Krishnamacharya who taught it in Eastern India 1927-1988.
Vinyasa Flow Yoga Class for Beginners by Yoga Shala from YouTube
Yoga Nidra means “yogic sleep”. Yoga Nidra can be described as meditative deep relaxation.
During the Yoga Nidra practice the student is laying down under covers and the teacher verbally goes through different image training exercises. The practice makes it possible to experience a deep meditative state. Many people practice Yoga Nidra to relax but the main goal is a journey into the subconscious mind. Diving into the deepest psychic experiences is not the purpose of Yoga Nidra practice, but to stay in between being awake and falling to sleep.
Yoga Pilates / Yoglates
Yoga Pilates combines the traditional yoga exercises and soft Pilates exercises.
Yoga Pilates teaches precise coordination and body control. The focus of the exercises are on the muscles in the areas of pelvis, stomach, back and shoulders.
Yin-Yoga aims for the balance of physical and spiritual.
Instead of strengthening the muscles Yin Yoga practice focuses on strengthening and stretching connective tissue. Yin Yoga is called as the quiet practice because the practice consists of very slow floor poses that don’t require strength. This soft yoga style can balance other more physical forms of yoga such as Ashtanga yoga. The poses are performed passively with different aids such as yoga blocks and pillows. The poses are held for several minutes. Yin Yoga calms the nervous system and teaches to be present in the moment.
Yin Yang Yoga
Yin and Yang – the opposites strengthen and balance each other.
In yoga these two energies promote harmony for both the body and the mind. The word hatha comes from Sanskrit words Ha = sun Tha = moon. Energy of the sun is active, outgoing and the energy of the moon is passive and inward-oriented. Yin & Yang Yoga mixes these two energies creating strength and balance through yoga poses. Yin Yang Yoga relaxes both body and mind.