Here is a description of some of the most popular yoga styles.
Hatha is a generic term that refers to any physical yoga practice. So, most modern yoga styles fall into this category.
Sivananda is probably the most traditional take on yoga. It’s main focus is beyond physical. Just like in the original teachings of hindu masters, it is a spiritual practice rather than physical exercise. The class revolves around 12 main poses, pranayama (breathing), chanting and meditation. A long relaxation in sivasana (corpse pose) is key in Sivananda practice.
This style is based on the teachings of Swami Sivananda.
The Iyengar method could be called minimalist yoga. It’s all about precision and alignment. So, get ready for long moments of stillness. As you will realise, holding a pose in perfect alignment, can be very challenging. And even though this practice will not get your heart rate up, it will strengthens the body, while increasing flexibility and awareness. An important characteristic of Iyengar Yoga is the use of a variety of props: blocks, blankets, straps, chairs, bolsters, and rope walls.
This style was developed by B.K.S. Iyengar.
Vinyasa is any type of yoga that blends dynamic, flowing asana sequencing with regular, conscious breathing.
An intense workout that will definitely make you sweat. This demanding, dynamic practice cultivates an attitude of freedom and fearlessnes when facing challenges,on and off the mat. It is a great way to strengthen your body and induce a sense of empowerment.
Power Yoga is rooted in the Ashtanga tradition. Beryl Bender Birch and Bryan Kest have introduced it in the 80s, as an alternative to the rigid, structured practice of Ashtanga. This practice varies greately depending on the teacher’s personal style.
Some notable Power Yoga teachers are – Baron Baptiste and Rodney Yee.
A repetitive vinyasa class, extremely strenuous and athletic. This system consists of 6 set, standarised asana sequences. There is no music, but the sound of Ujjahi breathing usually fills the room with a meditative quality.
Mysore style Ashtanga classes are very different from regular yoga classes in that each student, having learned the standard sequence, flows through it at their own pace while the teacher moves around the room giving personal adjustments and directions.
K. Pattabhi Jois is the author of the Ashtanga Yoga method.
A vigorous vinyasa class performed in a heated room. Designed to make you sweat profusely just as if you were doing yoga in India. Bikram is structured and set in terms of sequencing (it’s always the same 26 poses), while Hot Yoga allows for variation and a personal touch.
Bikram Yoga was developed by Bikram Choudhury, a rather controversial character who not only tried to trademark his sequence, but is also fighting allegations of sexual assault and racism.
Often called the Yoga of Awareness, Kundalini is very different from the yoga styles we are used to in the west. The class usually begins with chanting, involves very minimal asanas but alot of repetitive vigorous movement (usually perfomed in a seated position) combined with yogic breathing and meditation techniques. It’s use of breath, mantras, mudras (sealing hand gestures) and bandhas (body locks) is all conducive to raising your energy. The awakening of the kundalini, our dormant spiritual energy, is the ultimate goal of this practice. Though not physically focused, this is a very demanding and uplifting class which dissolves mental blocks, helps achieve emotional balance and strengthens the nervous system. It calms and clears the mind, develops our intuition and can be an invaluable tool on our spiritual journey. Kundalini Yoga induces a hightened state of awareness and can be a strong catalyst for transformation.
Kundalini Yoga was introduced into the “west” by Yogi Bhajan.
Jivamukti means “liberation while living.” It is a physically stimulating, vigorous class, that revolves around ahimsa “non-harming” – one of the main principles of yoga. The practice involves vinyasa-style asana sequences, pranayama (breathwork), chanting, meditation and pretty diverse, often contemporary musical background.
Jivamukti Yoga was founded by Sharon Gannon and David Life.
A quiet, slow-paced, super-relaxing yoga class. You will most likely use blankets and bolsters to increase comfort and add an effortless quality to the asanas. It will soothe your nervous system and might even put you to sleep.
Also called Taoist Yoga, Yin is a type of restorative class that focuses on finding relaxation in every pose. A quiet, meditative practice that teaches you to let go and surrender to gravity. It is meant to counterbalance yang yoga practices, like Iyengar and Vinyasa styles. It employs a more passive approach.which can be especially challenging to all of us living in a fast-paced reality. But ultimately, you learn to be patient and give in to the flow of energy in your body, allow peace to flow though your life.
Paulie Zink is the man behing Yin Yoga.
If you would like to learn about the newest ways to spice up your practice check out Yoga Trends – Hybrid Styles