A Guide to the Major Types of Yoga

types of yoga

So you’ve heard numerous times that yoga is good for you. It can reduce stress, increase your flexibility and build strength. But when you go to a yoga studio, sometimes the first question you are asked is “What type of yoga interests you?”

Huh? Isn’t yoga just yoga? Nope. There are many different types of yoga. Here’s our beginner’s guide to the eight most popular forms.

1. Hatha: Hatha yoga is actually a generic term that refers to any type of yoga that teaches postures. Generally, hatha yoga classes will give you a gentle introduction to the most basic yoga postures. Hatha yoga is great for beginners or those who are not yet ready to work up a sweat.

2. BikramAbout 30 years ago, Bikram Choudhury developed this style of yoga where classes are held in heated rooms. In a Bikram class, you work your way through a standardized series of 26 poses. The series of poses never changes. Between the heat in the room and the work of doing the poses, you will sweat like crazy. Bikram yoga is wildly popular because it has a reputation for helping you lose weight, ease aches, pains and stiffness, reach your target cardio rate, loosen up faster and detoxify faster.

3. Hot Yoga. Hot yoga is basically the same thing as Bikram except that the sequence of poses deviates from classic Bikram in some way.

4. Anusara. Developed by American yoga teacher John Friend in 1997, anusara yoga is based on the belief that we are all filled with an intrinsic goodness. Anusara yoga is broadly classified into three parts: attitude, alignment of mind and body, and action, which is defined as the “natural flow of energy in the body, which provides both stability and joyful freedom.” Anusara classes are rigorous for the body and the mind.

5. Ashtanga. Ashtanga is based on ancient yoga teachings, but it was popularized and brought to the modern world by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in the 1970s. This method of yoga is rigorous and follows a specific sequence of postures. Every movement is linked to synchronization with your breath. Ashtanga is a hot, physically demanding practice that will make you sweat. The result, however, is better circulation, a stronger body, and a calm mind.

6. Iyengar. Iyengar yoga was developed and popularized by B.K.S. Iyengar. Iyengar is very meticulous, with the key being to find the exact proper alignment in a pose. You won’t get your heart rate up in an iyengar class, but you’ll be physically and mentally challenged to stay in a proper pose.

7. Restorative. Restorative yoga offers a great way to way to soothe frayed nerves. Restorative yoga classes use props such as bolsters, blankets, and blocks to help you maintain a passive pose so that your body can experience the benefits of the pose without having to exert any effort.

8. Vinyasa. Vinyasa is the Sanskrit word for “flow,” thus vinyasa classes are known for their fluid, movement-intensive practices. In vinyasa yoga, poses are literally choreographed to transition smoothly into each other. Often music is also used to aid smooth transitions. The intensity of the practice is similar to Ashtanga but no two classes are the same.

Photo Credit:  istockphoto.com

What types of yoga have you tried?