There are several different types of yoga available. They each differentiate themselves from the others by emphasizing a certain aspect of the entire practice of yoga. Traditionally, yoga works on the body, mind and spirit together. Although, most Western branches of yoga tend to focus primarily on the body.
If you live in a moderately large city, you should be able to find several different types of yoga studios and teachers that you can choose from.
The different types of yoga include:
Hatha yoga is the most traditional of all the forms of yoga. It dates back thousands of years. The name “Hatha” means willful or forceful. The word “Hatha” is a combination of hat (sun) and ha (moon) representing power and balance.
Hatha works with the energy centers of the body, the chakras, in addition to the muscles, flesh and bone. As a result, this creates a holistic workout. The main focus of Hatha yoga is on surrendering to and perfecting the many poses this form of yoga contains. Different levels of practitioners can complete increasingly difficult poses for flexibility in Hatha yoga. Practitioners also work to improve their focus and concentration through meditation. Learn more about Hatha yoga here.
Iyengar yoga is a variation of Hatha yoga. B. K. S. Iyengar founded Iyengar yoga in the 1970s in India. Iyengar’s focus was on the detail, precision and perfect alignment for the asanas (poses) he studied and taught. This helps to develop strength, mobility and stability. Iyengar reportedly perfected approximately 200 Hatha yoga asanas before his death at the age of 95. Learn more about Iyengar yoga here.
Vinyasa yoga is also known as flow yoga. It uses the same asanas as Hatha yoga. However in Vinyasa yoga the asanas are put into sequences that move easily from one pose to the next. The word vinyasa means “breath-synchronized movement”. This refers to the movements being performed in conjunction with breathing patterns and for the asanas to be held for a certain number of breaths. Learn more about Vinyasa yoga here.
Kundalini yoga emphasizes the balance of mind, body and spirit by moving energy in the body, specifically in relation to the chakras or energy centers. It has several unique postures designed to move the chakra energy up the spine. Kundalini yoga does not require a lot of flexibility or stamina, which means it can be done by anyone at any age. There are no levels to the classes the way there are with other forms of yoga such as Hatha. Learn more about Kundalini yoga here.
Bikram yoga, founded in the 1970s by Bikram Choudhry from Bengal, is also referred to as hot yoga. It is relatively simple in some ways because it uses only two breathing exercises and 26 Hatha yoga postures. The postures are performed in the same pattern in every lesson. However, the poses are demanding and the studio temperatures range from 80F to 110F, with a relative humidity of around 75%. This can also cause severe dehydration and pose a serious health risk to anyone with heart health issues. Learn more about Bikram yoga here.
Ashtanga yoga is a form of Vinyasa yoga. It is designed to flow the movements together, but in a more rapid and demanding way. K. Pattabhi Joi from India founded Ashtanga yoga in the late 1940s. Ashtanga yoga has seven main series, or levels, which include a basic one, and increasingly advanced ones. All of the levels are vigorous and very few practitioners are known to have reached the highest levels. Therefore, Ashtanga yoga may not be a good fit for people who are older or have certain medical conditions. Learn more about Ashtanga yoga here.
There are several different types of yoga to choose from. So, you have options when it comes to choosing a yoga class. You should choose your type of yoga based based on your overall physical health and stamina. If you are a beginner and/or senior, try Hatha or Kundalini if there is a studio near you. For something more lively but not too demanding, try Vinyasa. Or maybe you want to try a few different types of yoga. Either way, then you can see what a difference yoga can make to your health and vitality.