9 yoga styles explained right here
Updated: Feb 1
Studies continue to reveal the myriad of health benefits of Yoga, and Yoga is currently one of the most popular physical practices across the globe. There are so many different types offered, that it can be difficult to choose the right one for you. In this quick guide, we introduce you to the most commonly practiced types, along with their essential characteristics.
No matter which style of yoga you choose, you will likely see many improvements in different areas of your health. When practicing regularly, you can:
>Increase your flexibility
>Increase your energy
>Improve your posture
>Decrease chronic pain
>Increase muscle tone and strength
>Detoxify your organs
>Improve your cardiovascular health & circulation
>Improve your mental health (reduce anxiety & depression)
>Improve athletic performance
>Release endorphins and improve your mood
>And so much more…
Now that you know some of the benefits, let’s review some of the different types of yoga.
Alpha Yoga School focuses their trainings on Vinyasa and Ashtanga, to dive deeper into these two types of yoga, please read our blog, “Ashtanga vs. Vinyasa”.
VINYASA YOGA/FLOW YOGA/POWER YOGA
Vinyasa is a type of yoga that is very generalized and encompasses many different styles. Essentially, vinyasa links the breath to moving between postures with the focus on inhaling and expanding, exhaling and contracting. It is a vigorous style based on a rapid flow through sun salutations, while flow is comparable and means flowing from one pose to another, sometimes wandering away from the salutation series.
Ashtanga is a system of yoga that was brought to the modern world by yogi Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. There are several series included within an Ashtanga practice, starting with the primary series and increasing in difficulty as you progress through the levels. It is a fast-paced, physically challenging practice with a set sequence of asanas, offered in most studios both guided and Mysore (where a student is able to move at their own pace, assessed by senior instructors.
Hatha Yoga is a broad category that encompasses most of the types of yoga that are based on physical practice. Hatha offered in a studio can vary greatly and is often more focused on teaching the beginner. Most classes will have a slower pace, holding poses for longer amounts of time, with instruction to introduce pranayama (breathing techniques), meditation and correct alignment in asana (postures).
Developed by BKS Iyengar, this type of yoga is a very meticulous style with the attention placed on finding the correct alignment in a pose. Iyengar style guides the student into experiencing the intense subtleties of each pose by using a wide array of props, including bolsters, chairs, straps, blocks, etc. Poses are held much longer than in almost any other type of yoga.
Discovered by Doug Friend, Anusara is a more modern approach to Hatha, using the physical postures to support the students in opening their hearts, experiencing grace and find inner peace. Anusara can be an intense practice, incorporating Vinyasa, yet focuses on “The Universal Principles of Alignment” where one focuses on the natural spirals and loops of the body. This practice also brings attention to three main categories of practice known as the three A’s - Attitude, alignment and action.
Brought to the West by Yogi Bhajan, this form of yoga feels and looks quite different than any other type. The focus is to awaken one’s Kundalini energy from the base of the spine up through the 7 chakras. Each sequence is referred to as a kris through repetitive, enhanced breathing, movement, chants, mantras and meditation.
BIKRAM YOGA/HOT YOGA
Founded by Bikram Choudhury, consistency can be expected in this heated room, where a student is led through the same, copyrighted, 26 postures and 2 breathing techniques. The series is challenging, both mentally and physically, and is claimed to be all one needs to heal and strengthen one’s body. Hot Yoga often varies in temperature, humidity, and type and encompasses practicing yoga in a hot room.
Yin is a slow-paced, challenging practice where static poses are held for two to five minutes and often longer. The focus of this practice is to improve circulation and flexibility by working on fascia, tendons, and ligaments.
Restorative is another slower paced yoga focused on healing the body through relaxation, calm and discharging the nervous system. Poses are also held for longer amounts of time, yet props are incorporated into all of the poses to relieve the muscles and bones of their roles of support and action. When fully immersed in the poses and completely supported by props, the nervous system has the ability to slow down. This offers the body an opportunity to repair, rejuvenate and recharge.
There are many different types of yoga consistently emerging to keep busy Westerners engaged, including Vino & Vinyasa (Yoga with Wine), Ganjanasana (Cannabis & Yoga), Brewga (Yoga & Beer), Goat Yoga, Heavy Metal Yoga, Dog and/or Cat Yoga, Naked Yoga, Anti-gravity Yoga (using silks, aerial apparatuses, or bungee systems), and so many more.
All of this being said, here is a small breakdown on just a few types of yoga currently being offered. Try out different types until you find the one, or ones, that fit your lifestyle, fitness level and goals.
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