About the Author

Prashant Ji

Acharya Prashant Jakhmola

Yogi Prashant was born into a Brahmin family in Rishikesh, India. A science graduate, he began his path of yoga with a visit to Shivananda Ashram where he learnt from one of the oldest yogis, 80 years old yoga guru, learning the basics of traditional yoga and philosophy, while continuing his Asana practice with Yogi Rudra Ji, a popular Iyengar Yoga Teacher in Rishikesh. He then explored Iyengar Yoga with Usha Devi Ji.The turning point of his life is, visit to Bihar School Of Yoga where he got pu

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Blog Posted on:16/05/2024
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Types of Yoga: A Guide to the Different Styles

Yoga, a practice introduced in India thousands of years ago, has been leaving its mark across the globe since the evolution of 21st century. The yogic teachings and practices are interwoven across different yoga types yet each style has a distinctive way to it in terms of addressing specific requirements and is largely based on personal preferences.

In this guide, we shall learn the top types of yoga that are preferred by yogis and yoginis across the globe, their history, benefits, how they are done, top place where you can learn yoga and tips on what to consider before choosing your style.

First, Let’s look at the history of Yoga in Brief:

history of yoga

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Yoga’s roots can be observed as being more than 5,000 years old in India’s historical period where it started off as a spiritual practice for achieving a balanced mind and a robust body. Yoga’s roots can be traced back to timeless scriptures like the Rigveda and further to the Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita. Through the ages, yoga has been in practice, some schools of thoughts have started coming up contributing to its current development. Late in the 19th and beyond the early 20th centuries, yoga started to gain credibility in the west as a result of pioneers like Swami Vivekananda and Paramahansa Yogananda who had introduced yoga to the western communities.

10 Top Yoga Types That Are Globally Imprinted

1. Hatha Yoga:

Prashant Ji doing Hatha yoga

Hatha yoga is one of the earliest forms of the Yoga techniques. Many modern styles are also built on the foundation of Hatha yoga. It was first mentioned by the great scholar Swatmarama who was the founder of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika in the 15th century. This book illustrates the core of hatha yoga in practice and theory through a set of of postures (asanas), breathing techniques (pranayama), and purification practices (kriyas).

Benefits: The objective of Hatha yoga is to bring about the balance between the uplifting (pingala) and downturning (ida) energy channels thus bringing forth robust physical health as well enhancing mental clarity.

Ideal for: Beginner and intermediate level yogis and yoginis who aspire to focus on breathing techniques while building strength and flexibility. Hatha yoga's basic postures focus on meditation and breath work making it available for people of all ages.

2.  Vinyasa Yoga:

vinyasa yoga

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Vinyasa yoga finds its roots in the teachings about yoga of Sri Krishnamacharya who was a famous yoga teacher in the 20th century. It spread in the West through his students, including B.  K. S. Iyengar and Pattabhi Jois who further developed it into different styles. "Vinyasa," literally, means placing postures in a beautiful way - the distinctive synchronization of breath and movement is characteristic of this method.

Benefits: Vinyasa yoga provides the uniqueness of dynamic and fluid practice which is good for the body in general. Moreover, it supports cardiovascular health and increases flexibility. The steady stream of movement that characterizes dance brings forth stillness of the mind and takes a person into the present moment, its whole being in one feeling.

Ideal for: The practitioner who desires challenging and strenuous training. Vinyasa style of exercising suits people who like to be creative with the exercise flow and enjoy the feeling of continuity.

3.  Ashtanga Yoga:

Ashtanga Yoga

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It is shri K. Pattabhi Jois who in the 20th century made ashtanga yoga system; he was influenced by the Yoga Korunta, a yogic text which is thousands of years old. This branch of Hatha yoga believes in a particular set of asanas ordered and combined with breath while also aiming to detoxify and balance the body and mind. This style of Yoga is characterized by a determined practice and adeptness stages in its performance.

Benefits: Ashtanga yoga has the capacity to challenge your level of physical strength and the strain of which you can tolerate thus increasing your flexibility and endurance at the same time, and promoting internal cleansing and detoxification. The routine of the boxing builds self-discipline and concentration but also lets you get to know yourself.

Ideal for: Groups who require these pieces to structure and discipline in their practice will prefer such approach. Ashtanga yoga tends to be the style of choice for those who want a challenge and be dedicated to a regular, teacher-guided practice following the traditional sequencing.

4.  Bikram Yoga:

bikaram yoga

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Bikram yoga, created by Bikram Choudhury in the 1970s, is as a matter of fact, a discipline built on the teachings of his ancestral teacher, Bishnu Ghosh. It is a fundamental component of yoga and includes a sequence of 26 postures and two breathing practices which are practiced in a room that is heated to about 40°C/105°F with 40% humidity. The warmth and the sweat are highly regarded for giving users better stretches, filtering out toxins and avoiding injury.

Benefits: Bikram yoga classes get bodies flexible, increase muscle strength and improve cardiovascular health while its profuse sweat-provoking environments helps the body flush out toxins. The hot environment knows as “hot yoga” is particularly suitable for deeper stretching while the heat also helps to release tension in the muscles, bringing relaxation and stress relief post sessions.

Ideal for: Particularly sportpersons and athletes that can bear with the heat and the challenge of this yoga type. The yoga style is also ideal for those who can manage a workout session in a heated environment.

5.  Kundalini Yoga:

Kundalini Yoga

 

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Kundalini yoga owes its origins to the time of Indian tantra and it was introduced as a yogic practice to the Westerners by Yogi Bhajan at the dawn of the 20th century. The core of this yoga type lies in the awakening of latent energy (kundalini) which is supposed to be located in the base of spine through the combined use of Kriyas, Pranayama, meditation, and Kirtan sessions. Kundalini yoga as such is considered to be a perfect means to release an individual's internal prowess that transports the yogi and yogini to ultimate self-realization and spiritual awakening.

Benefits: Kundalini yoga balances the nervous system by activating the parasympathetic nervous system that restores the body and creating calmness, increasing vigour and improving the clarity and stability of a person's mind & emotions. It strengthens the understanding that energy flows from the spirit to the body and helps calm the mind, generating feelings of connectivity and inner balance.

Ideal for: Those who want to take a closer look at yoga as a means to unveil the spiritual world and practice inner self-awareness. The practice of Kundalini yoga is beneficial for everybody, if practiced under the guidance of a Kundalini Yoga master.

6.  Iyengar Yoga:

Iyengar Yoga

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Iyengar yoga was established in the 20th century by B.  K.  S.  Iyengar and is regarded as a style of yoga that is highly accurate, particularly for all the poses, as well as the use of props to assist the body specifically during the practice of poses to attain enhanced and personalised benefits. By simply digging deep into the traditional postures and reading of classical texts (like the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali) that served as classical yoga texts, B.  K.  S.  Iyengar, created this style which ranged from his own practice and experimentation.

Benefits: Through practicing Iyengar yoga, the level of the awareness is high and you acquire muscular strength and flexibility, the techniques on which the teacher lays stress involve the arrangement of the body correctly and sustained awareness of the body mechanics. The use of props by instructors helps the participants to perform their moves as per their own level of ability, age and need, which makes the practise more adaptable to anybody and everyone.

Ideal for: Extended releases performed in this yoga type are also beneficial for senior citizens or those with injuries who prefer deep and calming yoga during their practice. Iyengar yoga is for both novices and more experienced practitioners, providing a source of safety and support to every person.

7.  Restorative Yoga:

restoritve yoga

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Restorative yoga was developed as a counterforce to the fast pattern of life which is rapidly spreading in today’s society. Having B.  K.  S.  Iyengar and Judith Lasater’s teaching in mind, this type of yoga is more focused on increasing deep relaxation and getting you into the passive stretches.  This activates your parasympathetic nervous system to help you rejuvenate and calm down.

Benefits: The Restorative Yoga type is a new way of restoring the body that helps profound relaxation, lowers stress and anxiety, helps to heal the body, and increases overall mental-physical well-being. The utmost benefit that yoga brings to the human body is that through supported poses it can liberate the mind and body from the tension and restore the balance, while the conscious breathing induces inner quietness and peacefulness.  

Ideal for: For those renoctulobating illness or injury, people under extreme stress or fatigue, and others who look for a gentle and nurturing practice to replenish their energy reserves.

8.  Yin Yoga:

yin yoga

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Yin yoga is heavily influenced by Taoist philosophy and traditional Chinese treatment of ailments, which heavily focuses on the quieter and meditative aspects of yoga. Coming out in the 1990s, Paulie Zink was the first one to devise Yin yoga class, which was furthered popularized by Paul Grilley and Sarah Powers.  It assumes the long postures performed with muscles mostly relax and targets deeper tissues such as fascia, ligaments, and tendons.

Benefits: Yin yoga helps us to achieve flexibility, internal organs to work better, and ankles, hips and shoulders to move joints freely. Through practice of staying in poses for an extended period, the energy flow (qi) along the energy lines called meridian pathways is activated as it harmonises the mind and stabilises the emotions.

Ideal for: A class should be thoughtfully designed for those who are seeking to complement the dynamic and active types of yoga through stressful and meditative session. At the core of yin yoga is balancing the effects of habitual sitting and repetitive movements with building strength and flexibility. This helps athletes to relax their over-repetitive practice, office workers to prevent tension headaches and poor posture, and those with sedentary lifestyles to cope with stress and fatigue.

9.  Power Yoga:

power yoga

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Power Yoga was born in the 1990s as an advanced form of yoga, which merges modern techniques of modern practice based on speed and strength, namely physical movements, with breathing exercises. Power yoga is partly guided by the Ashtanga yoga and vinyasa flow and is also based on these two approaches. It emphasizes physical strength and sportiveness thereby intermingling a powerful and boosting workout.

Benefits: Power yoga involves the use of muscles and is therefore a very key component of power yoga that improves cardiovascular health, muscular endurance, and agility. Poses, rhythmic music, and innovativie transitions lead to the rapid increase of heart rate, metabolic rate, and faction of calorie burn that can be employed in a weight loss plan. Power yoga powers through mental distractions and perseverance to create a feeling of being encouraged and independent being.

Ideal for: Fitness enthusiasts, athletes, and equally people who are engaging in a lively dynamic yogic practice seeking to serve as an equal to their active life. While power yoga is also for the ones who are looking for a fast cardio workout that involves a mix of strength, flexibility, and peace of mind.

10. Jivamukti Yoga:

Jivamukti Yoga

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Jivamukti yoga was founded by Sharon Gannon and David Life in the 1980s, blending elements of hatha yoga, vinyasa flow, chanting, meditation, and ethical teachings (yamas and niyamas). The name "Jivamukti" translates to "liberation while living," reflecting the style's emphasis on spiritual awakening and social activism.

Benefits: Jivamukti yoga promotes physical strength, mental clarity, and spiritual growth through a holistic approach to practice. Dynamic asana sequences challenge the body, while devotional chanting and philosophical discourse inspire self-inquiry and transformation. Jivamukti yoga also encourages compassion, environmental awareness, and social justice activism.

Ideal for: Individuals seeking a comprehensive yoga practice that integrates physical, philosophical, and spiritual elements. Jivamukti yoga appeals to those interested in deepening their understanding of yoga beyond the mat and making meaningful connections with themselves, others, and the world around them.

Top Spots to Learn Yoga

Yoga Studios: Local yoga studios offer a variety of classes catering to different yoga styles and levels of experience. Look for studios with certified instructors and a supportive community atmosphere, where you can receive personalized guidance and feedback on your practice.

Retreat Centers: Retreat centers provide immersive yoga experiences amid tranquil settings, allowing participants to deepen their practice and connect with like-minded individuals. Choose retreats led by experienced teachers in locations that resonate with your preferences, whether it's a mountain retreat, beach resort, or rural sanctuary.

Online Platforms: Online yoga platforms offer convenience and flexibility, with a wide range of classes accessible anytime, anywhere. Look for platforms with experienced teachers and user-friendly interfaces that offer a diverse selection of classes, workshops, and resources to support your yoga journey.

How to Choose the Right Yoga Style?

Consider Your Goals: Decide whether it's mainly your physical fitness or a combination of stress relief, spiritual growth, and all of these elements that you intend to focus on. If you want to know what exactly you will get from the practice of yoga, think about what you want from it and choose the style that matches with your intentions.

Assess Your Physical Condition: Remember, these conditions might affect you a lot, hence, be keen on the style of yoga you choose. Seek advice from a healthcare provider or a qualified yoga instructor to determine if the practice is safe and suitable for you.  You can also consult with a professional to find out what is appropriate for you.

Experiment and Explore: Go to the classes or workshops that focus on varying dancing styles if they are available to find the one which especially suits you. Never forget to make attempts in new products and areas that are beyond your comfort zone. Be aware of what kind of sensation each style causes, by looking at this from all the perspectives, you will effectively navigate your body and your soul.

Listen to Your Body: Feel any signs of discomfort or uneasiness and pay attention to your body's signal knowing that it signifies something that is worthy of your awareness. Firstly, opt for the practice that benefits all aspects of your physical and mental health as well as the aspects of your lifestyle you want to enhance. Also, be ready to adjust your style and make it suitable for your needs as they change time after time.

Yoga is a rich science that has many styles to offer. The type of yoga you may enjoy could be the fast-paced flow of Vinyasa, the alignment-driven Iyengar, or the spiritual Kundalini yoga; choose from the numerous styles of yoga. Learning about the origins, meanings, and practice of various types of yoga for you will take ‘you’ through a spectacular trip of self-discoveries. Immune yourself to the rigidity of yoga and trust in that, which belongs to your own inner sense, which will lead you towards the unique practice that you can follow with your heart.

Namaste.

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