A lot of yoga schools have been developed over time, and there is quite a few to choose from nowadays – which can feel a bit overwhelming. Each form of yoga comes with its own benefits – thus some drawing their attention to alignment, whereas others offer a dynamic flow or focus on relaxation.
Here is a brief summary of the most common styles of yoga that are being taught today. We recommend to give a few different styles a try to see which one is the right and best fit for you.
1. Hatha Yoga
Hatha Yoga means ’union through discipline and force’. Hatha is a school of yoga grounded in the physical practice and includes asanas, breathwork, meditation and diet to ultimately control our mind and move closer to our higher self.
Sequences are usually slower than in many other styles of yoga and the the teacher often explains in more detail on how to enter and hold a pose which is why many see Hatha Yoga to be perfect for beginners. Yet, Hatha style yoga can get quite challenging as poses are held for a relatively long time.
2. Yin Yoga
In Yin Yoga, a pose is being held for a longer period of time, aiming to release tension in the body, calming the mind and working with the breath. Yin Yoga targets the fascia rather than the muscles which allows sustainable flexibility, releasing of stuck energies and thus an overall improvement of energy flow. Done frequently, yin yoga helps to release tension, tightness and stress in the body, increases flexibility and helps yogis with a regular practice of ashtanga, hatha or vinyasa yoga bringing their practice to the next level.
3. Restorative Yoga
Similar to Yin Yoga, Restorative Yoga focuses on decreasing stress in the body and the mind, working with the nervous system to regulate itself. Probs such as blankets, bolsters, pillows and straps are used to help support the body and finding more relaxation. Restorative has a therapeutic effect and can thus be very helpful for people with chronic pain and chronic stress.
4. Ashtanga Yoga
Ashtanga Yoga, also called the ’eight limb yoga’ is a more physically challenging style of yoga. An Ashtanga practice usually starts with sun salutation A and B followed by a set sequence of postures with a strong focus on alignment and precise movements. One of the most famous forms of Ashtanga Yoga has developed and been brought to western world in Mysore, India (also known as Mysore LED). Mysore Ashtanga offers a set sequence of asanas practiced by students at their own pace. Ashtanga Yoga usually is challenging and physically demanding and recommended for intermediate to advanced practitioners.
5. Vinyasa Yoga
Modern Vinyasa Yoga originally derives from Ashtanga Yoga. Vinyasa Flow Yoga which nowadays is practiced all over the world is a relatively modern style of Yoga. Whereas Ashtanga style yoga rather offers a set sequence of asanas demanding a lot of precisement, Vinyasa Flow Yoga allows more flexibility and brings in a lot more creativity and flexibility regarding alignment and sequencing. Vinyasa itself is the practice of linking movement and breath, thus creating a seamless connection between asanas and creating a continuous flow throughout the practice.
6. Iyengar Yoga
Iyengar Yoga was designed and founded by Indian yogi BKS Iyengar. It is also known as ‘practice of precision’: the Iyengar style typically is based on alignment and precise, slow movements. Postures are held for a long time using probs if necessary. That being said, Iyengar is a great practice having therapeutic benefits on the body and soul.
7. Aerial Yoga
Aerial Yoga is a very modern form of Yoga founded in California where traditional styles of yoga like vinyasa, hatha or even dance and acrobatic elements are done with the use of a hammock. Aerial Yoga has gained popularity in recent years, being creative, challenging and unique in the way of using anti-gravity asanas. Aerial Yoga is said to release tension, increases flexibility, is thrilling and has a very low negative impact on the joints.
8. Jivamukti Yoga
Jivamukti Yoga is a modern form of yoga founded 1984 in New York. Jivamukti aims to find a way to enlighment through practicing compassion towards all living beings. Jivamukti combines Hatha yoga with Vinyasa flow style yoga and is based on 5 pillars: Those are Shastra (study of Sanskrit and ancient yogic teachings like Patanjalis eight limbs or the Bhagavad Gita), Bhakti (devotion and humility), Ahimsa (non-violence, veganism), Nada (development of a sound body and mind: deep inner listening and chanting) and Dhyana (meditation and connection with spirituality).
9. Bikram Yoga
Bikram Yoga was founded by Bikram Choudhury about 30 years ago. In Bikram Yoga, you are working your way through a set of 26 postures, which makes it quite similar to an Ashtanga class. However, what makes Bikram classes unique (and a bit controversal) is that those classes are held in closed rooms where temperature is set up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit (or 40 degrees Celsius). Bikram yoga is a practice where you’ll gonna sweat and challenge your body- a lot!
10. Kundalini Yoga
Kundalini Yoga has been designed to create health, wellbeing and balance by releasing Kundalini energy in our bodies which is said to be stuck in the lower spine. For this, different breathing techniques are being used. A Kundalini class consists of several kundalini exercises called kriya: Repetitive movements that are synchronized with the breath. Kundalini Yoga usually involves dynamic breathing, chanting, mantra, meditation. Classes may get very intense as a lot of blocked energy is being moved and released.