Types of Yoga – 10 Unique Styles Explained
With so many different types of yoga classes and styles available, it can get confusing trying to determine which one is best for you. This shouldn’t be holding you back from gaining some of the amazing body and mind benefits that yoga can bring, like sleeping better, getting fewer colds, or just feeling more relaxed and at ease. This is why we took a look at the main types of yoga classes commonly found in order to give you a plain and simple explanation of what you can expect.
There are countless types of yoga throughout the modern world with a variety of styles and techniques. We’ve selected the 10 recognizable & diverse yoga styles practiced today. Expand your Yoga knowledge and find a style that works for you!
A series of 6 different poses make up the Ashtanga class. Poses are specific, strenuous, and executed in rapid succession. Once you know the postures you flow from one to another in your own time. These movements are called vinyasa, as they are linked with the breath. Ashtanga is very physical, which leans more toward a workout style class rather than the more gentler types of yoga.
Bikram sessions always take place in a heated, sauna-like room (105 degrees and 40 percent humidity). The same 26 postures are performed, (twice each) in official Bikram classes. Because your muscles warm up in the room, you are able to stretch further than you normally would. This is a strenuous class and it’s important to listen to your body and not push farther than you are comfortable. Leaving the room is also discouraged and if you feel faint or too hot it is advised to lay down for a few moments.
In terms of yoga, if hatha is the entire smoothie, then styles like Ashtanga and Bikram are the strawberries and coconut milk. This word covers all types of yoga that are of a physical nature, which are most of the classes you will find in the western world. Hatha classes will vary widely depending on the teacher and where they have been trained.
Named after the founder B.K.S. Iyengar, this technique uses props like blocks, straps, harnesses, and incline boards to help get practitioners into the postures. Iyengar Yoga focuses on perfection of the pose and is said to be suitable for all ages and levels.
Kundalini encourages constant movement and energizing, fluid postures. This technique is said to help release the Kundalini (serpent) energy. If you are wondering what that is, you can think of it like as a sleeping snake at the base of the spine. When it’s awoken you are said to be on your way to reaching your ultimate potential and spiritual awakening.
Prenatal yoga is specifically designed to be gentle and adaptable for expectant mothers in all stages of pregnancy. There are even classes for those who would like to get back into shape after giving birth. The aim being, that if you continue to keep your muscles subtle and strong before giving birth, they will more easily return back to normal post pregnancy.
Relaxation is the main focus here. About 20 minutes will be spent on each posture, doing only four to five gentle poses per class. These are often modified to be gentler than other stronger postures. Props like blankets, bolsters, and soothing lavender eye pillows are all used to help the practitioner feel as comfortable and relaxed as possible. Restorative Yoga allows for deep relaxation of both body and mind.
Satyananda / Holistic Yoga
Satyanada is an integral type of yoga which focuses on a creating a balanced class. Starting with a short sitting meditation, it then moves into the asana (posture) section of class. From here onto pranayama (breathing exercises), and ending in mediation. Holistic Yoga is perfect for every level of practitioner as systematically prepares your body for meditation, calmness and quieting of the mind. This is an unhurried yoga practice that typically focuses on the practitioner’s individual experience. For this reason, the teacher will be sitting at the front of class and will only demonstrate a pose when necessary. Holistic Yoga is an extremely popular and well-rounded type of yoga.
Vinyasa / Power
“Power” yoga is an adaption from the original Ashtanga system. Classes are often closer to high-intensity workouts than relaxing yoga sessions, which has appeal to westerners. These classes will vary widely depending on your individual teacher.
Also known as Taoist yoga, Yin classes are calm and quiet. Meditation and postures that lengthen the muscles are the focus with this technique. Students relax deeply into poses and allow gravity to deepen each stretch. Posture and poses are held for long periods of time.