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Which Style Of Yoga Is Right For You?

Yoga is most commonly known as a form of mat-based exercise where a series of postures called asanas are performed to strengthen, lengthen, and tone your body. However, asanas are just one aspect of yoga.

Traditional yoga is comprised of eight limbs called ashtanga, which includes asanas (physical postures), pranayama (breathing techniques), dharana and dhyana (meditation). Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit term, 'yuj' which means 'union' or 'yoke.' The ultimate goal for any practitioner of yoga is to attain a state of complete oneness known as samadhi, where the body and universe are one. (Cary Physical Medicine)

Is there a 'best' type of yoga?

Absolutely not. And, in fact, there might be several styles that suit you.

Perhaps you'd like a quicker practice in the morning to energize you for the day ahead or a slower, restorative flow before bed. Maybe you're after yoga for weight loss. Whatever the case, the best type of yoga for you will likely change depending on your mood, time of day and how many minutes you have to spare.

Here are the 13 Types of Yoga:

Hatha Yoga

When you hear a class described as Hatha Yoga style today, it often refers to practicing yoga postures slowly with careful awareness of the movements. There are no fixed sequences or specific breathing patterns typically associated with a modern Hatha Yoga class. Some teachers will focus on breathing, and some will focus only on working the muscles in the postures. Students describe these classes as excellent for beginners and slower-paced than Vinyasa and Ashtanga Yoga classes.

Popular Hatha yoga poses:

  • Mountain Pose

  • Tree Pose

  • Standing Half Forward Bend

  • Downward Dog Pose

  • Bridge Pose

  • Locust Pose

Iyengar Yoga

B.K.S Iyengar was an influential teacher, famed for the introduction of multiple props, such as blocks and chairs. Iyengar yoga was originally created with the focus to help people overcome physical injuries by using different props during yoga sessions.

Popular Iyengar yoga poses:

  • Boat Pose

  • Child's Pose

  • Camel Pose

  • Sage Marichi's Pose

  • Legs Up The Wall Pose

  • Staff Pose

Kundalini Yoga

The primary focus of Kundalini Yoga is balancing the energies of the subtle nervous system, also known as the chakras and nadis. Classes focus on accomplishing this shift in energy through pranayama breathing techniques, mantra chanting, physical exercises and meditation.

Popular Kundalini yoga poses:

  • Half Frog Pose

  • Bow Pose

  • Crow Pose

  • Cobra Pose

Ashtanga Yoga

Ashtanga Yoga follows a strict format of six different sequences of asanas that have their basis on the Sun Salutation Sequence. Ashtanga Yoga focuses on physically challenging you to push past your limits in every class. While it's not for those who want a relaxing style of exercise, it is good for those who prefer to get a great full-body workout in their yoga practice.

Popular Ashtanga yoga poses:

  • Big Toe Pose

  • Upward Plank Pose

  • Bound Angle Pose

  • Shoulder Pressing Pose

Vinyasa Yoga

Vinyasa Yoga describes many variations of "yoga-flow" sequences. The main focus of Vinyasa Yoga is linking breathing to each movement while practicing the postures. General Vinyasa Yoga classes often add additional postures to the standard Sun Salutation sequence. They can practice postures slowly or quickly depending on the needs of the students. You will find many different varieties of Vinyasa Yoga, including some that use more music, meditational aids and chanting in their classes.

Popular Vinyasa yoga poses:

  • Cat Pose

  • Upward Facing Dog Pose

  • Low Lunge Pose

  • Crescent Lunge Pose

  • Easy Pose

Bikram Yoga

Bikram Choudhury created this "hot yoga" style, basically recreating the environment of his hometown in Calcutta, India. While to the Western world it seems like doing yoga inside of a sauna, classroom temperatures of up to 100 degrees and 40 percent humidity or more are everyday living conditions in most of India.

Bikram classes traditionally last for 90 minutes during which you focus on 26 fixed postures that you perform twice. It also includes breathing sequences.

Popular Bikram yoga poses:

  • Half Moon Pose

  • Eagle Pose

  • Head To Knee Pose

  • Triangle Pose

  • Corpse Pose

Yin Yoga

In Yin Yoga classes, you hold each posture for up to five minutes at a time. Here the goal is to open the deeper connective tissues in the joints and develop a deeper state of calm. This method can help you release tension in many other subtle energy channels or meridians in the body. The practice gives a very meditative experience. Yin postures look the same as other yoga postures but have different names to emphasize the different focus and variations of the pose.

Popular Yin yoga poses:

  • Fish Pose

  • Sphinx Pose

  • Child's Pose

  • Corpse Pose

Restorative Yoga

The goal of this style of yoga is purely to de-stress the body and mind. You spend a greater amount of time in fewer postures during classes, and you always use props that make the poses more relaxing. Yoga props include blankets, belts, bolsters and eye pillows. It is different than Yin Yoga in that Yin Yoga focuses on letting gravity do more of the work rather than using props simply to relax in the postures.

Popular Restorative yoga poses:

  • Reclining Hero Pose

  • Happy Baby Pose

  • Legs Up The Wall Pose

  • Bound Angle Pose

Prenatal Yoga

Prenatal Yoga is a special exercise and stretching program for pregnant women of all trimesters. All pregnant women should go to Prenatal Yoga rather than other yoga classes because not every yoga posture is safe for women to practice while pregnant.

Prenatal Yoga teachers have the expertise necessary to help you work with your body safely according to your specific needs. It helps prepare women to have an easier delivery by focusing on toning the pelvic floor. Classes also teach simple breathing exercises that make labor easier to bear. These gentle stretches also help release the tension in the body that builds up from carrying a child to term so that women feel better during pregnancy.

Popular Prenatal yoga poses:

  • Lotus Pose

  • Warrior II Pose

  • Triangle Pose

  • Easy Pose

  • Bound Angle Pose

Anusara Yoga

These classes combine the use of yoga props just like Iyengar classes. However, they focus more on creating flow sequences and promoting a lighthearted atmosphere in the classroom. They emphasize the mind-body-heart connection. Classes include devotional chanting, partner work, linking postures to the breath and meditation.

Popular Anusara yoga poses:

  • Half Moon Pose

  • Warrior I Pose

  • Eagle Pose

  • Cobra Pose

Jivanmukti Yoga

Classes typically begin and end with Sanskrit chanting, as well as meditation. They teach the yoga postures in a way that's often physically challenging, so beginners should take care to make sure that they are coming to a beginner's class beforehand to prevent injuries. Practitioners often describe classes as tough, athletic workouts that make you sweat while also helping you to destress. The teachers have a hands-on approach and also try to incorporate more of traditional yogic philosophy principles into their classes too.

Popular Jivanmukti yoga poses:

  • Downward Dog Pose

  • Standing Half Forward Bend

  • Half Lord of the Fishes Pose

  • Yoga Handstand

Ariel Yoga

This practice blends yoga postures with principles of Pilates, gymnastics, calisthenics and acrobatic training methods to build extra core and upper-body strength. In these classes, you suspend your body above the ground in a type of hammock that resembles something you might see in a Cirque du Soleil performance. The advantages of Aerial Yoga include being able to decompress the spine and reduce pressure on the joints while getting all the benefits of inversions. Many have found relief from chronic back pain through this approach. The hammock is a highly versatile yoga prop to help you go deeper within poses. The practice can be challenging and soothing as well.

Popular Ariel yoga poses:

  • High Lunge Pose

  • Boat Pose

  • Bow Pose

  • Yoga Handstand


"Yoga is essentially a practice for your soul, working through the medium of your body." ~ Tara Fraser



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