While there are many more yoga styles out there than listed below, this will help you get started on thinking about the kind of practice that best fits your needs and personality. Of course, experimenting with different classes and instructors is the best way to feel it out – you may be surprised to find out what works for you.
HATHA: You’re a beginner to yoga and keep hearing the word “hatha”
As you experiment with different styles of yoga, it’s helpful to know that most Western yoga derives from Hatha, one of the six major branches of yoga. Hatha emphasises poses (asanas), breath control (pranayama), and relaxation to cleanse and strengthen the mind, body, and spirit.
ANANDA: You believe in the power of affirmations
Silent affirmations during this practice’s physical poses help you channel your awakened energies, including those of the chakras. By practicing Ananda, you connect to a higher level of awareness.
VINYASA FLOW: You’re past the beginner stage and want to sweat a little more
In this style, poses flow from one to another, transitioning with inhales and exhales, and creating a dancelike movement. Flow classes tend to be vigorous and are often not for beginning students.
ASHTANGA: You like a Vinyasa-flow-style yoga but prefer the same order of poses every time
Ashtanga has become a very popular style, featuring a series of poses that promote the flow of energy throughout the body. It’s an extremely invigorating workout.
POWER: If you do yoga in your gym, it’s most likely this style
The term was created so that an Ashtanga-style practice would appeal more to Westerners. Power yoga emphasises the workout aspects of yoga, rather than its spiritual benefits.
INTEGRAL: You love the idea of promoting the greater good through your yoga practice
Founded by the Reverend Sri Swami Satchidananda, this style introduced many young people in the ’60s to yogic philosophies. Gentle poses, sound vibration, breathing, and guided meditation are its cornerstones, but the greater goal is to radiate peace and tolerance throughout the world.
IYENGAR: You love precision and props
Founded by I.K.S. Iyengar, this style involves holding poses longer for greater intensity and concentration on proper alignment. Iyengar also emphasises the use of props such as blocks, belts, and chairs.
KUNDALINI: The more spiritual, the better
Using chanting, meditation, poses, and breath, a Kundalini practice helps you channel your energy from the base of your spine to your whole being’s energy centres, or chakras.
BIKRAM: You like it hot and sweaty and practicing set poses
Since a warm body is a flexible body, Bikram is practiced in a room heated to about 105 degrees with 40% humidity. This challenging yoga comprises 26 Hatha yoga postures and two pranayama breathing techniques. The sequences work synergistically to improve health and well-being.
HOT YOGA: You like it hot so you can achieve maximum benefits
Some hot yoga studios employ some of Bikram’s techniques but choose not to buy into a franchise to go by this name, but many businesses that practice a variety of yoga styles now use “Hot Yoga” if their studios are heated for maximum flexibility and deeper poses.
SIVANANDA: You believe in the power of positive thinking and want to relax into exercise
Based on several forms of yoga, this practice works five principles into every class, including breathing, relaxation, exercise, diet, and positive thinking. A regular series of poses, breathing exercises, and meditation get you to a very relaxed place.
TANTRIC YOGA: You want to get closer to your partner
This style is all about intimacy with your partner, both sexual and spiritual. Like Kundalini, it’s based on the belief that the source of all your energy resides in the base of your spine. By practicing poses and breathing techniques with your partner, this energy will work its way through your entire body.
KRIPALU: You like taking it off the mat
Originating from the Kripalu retreat in Massachusetts’ Berkshires, Kripalu promotes awareness of body, breath, and mind through poses, breathing, and relaxation techniques. The emphasis on thriving off the mat, and how connecting to that life force assists with the inquiry of optimal living sets this style apart.
NUDE: You like taking it off!
Sure, not wanting to spend 50 bucks on yoga pants is one motivation, but practitioners love how doing yoga naked allows them to accept their bodies as-is and makes them feel free.
ANASURA: You believe it all comes from the heart
A relatively new style of yoga founded by John Friend in 1997, Anasura respects every student’s level of experience, promoting the divine in body, mind, and spirit. With this style, the heart is the force behind every action or expression of the pose.
VINIYOGA: You want your current state to drive your practice
This style acknowledges that we are forever changing, and that one person is in a different place from another. Practice is individualised for optimum health and personal transformation.
By Sheryl Farber
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