There are various popular Yoga Styles prevalent today. Yoga is not just a form of exercise; it connects the body, soul, and mind and bridges the gap between us and the Universal Consciousness. Yoga does offer a wide array of physical benefits due to the stretches, twists, and bends it incorporates, but when one integrates it into one’s life, the experience becomes more beautiful and balanced. It inculcates a sense of grace and harmony combined with compassion and love, making the life livable.
There are countless types of yoga, but the root of all, at the end of the day is Hatha Yoga. Let us get to know more about some of the most popular yoga styles prevalent today.
All other forms of yoga are based on Hatha Yoga. Hata is the mother of the different types of Yoga styles we see today. It gives the guidelines. Hatha is a combination of two Sanskrit words – Ha that means Sun and Tha that means moon. In simpler terms, the practice exudes force and energy and vitality.
The classes do not have any flow. The poses are held for about a minute with focus on alignment and breath. A typical Hatha yoga class comprises of Asanas, Pranayama, and Dharana. It is ideal for beginners and seasoned Yogis alike.
The postures are borrowed from classical Hata, but this yoga style is flow-based. There is no space to pause. Created by K. Pattabhi Jois, Ashtanga teaches the practitioners to align breath and movement. This technique focuses on repetitive practice to master the poses and breath-movement coordination. That is why those who are new to Ashtanga practice the Primary series for a prolonged time, master it, and then move to the advanced training.
A typical Ashtanga class lasts for ninety minutes. Since it is a power-packed practice, it is ideal for those who want to feel the physical benefits of yoga more.
This style of yoga is pretty similar to Ashtanga, but the power is slightly less. It is ideal for transitioning from Hatha Yoga to Ashtanga/Power Yoga practice. The emphasis is on breath and movement coordination. One of the most straightforward examples of Vinyasa is Surya Namaskar where each movement is connected to an inhalation or exhalation. A typical Vinyasa class lasts for 60 to 75 minutes and ends with Savasana.
Since there are no strict rules on sequencing when it comes to Vinyasa yoga, the teacher has to utilize creativity to make the class interesting and balanced. And, that could perhaps be the reason why a Dharana practice or chanting is included at the beginning or end of a Vinyasa session.
This style of yoga takes its base from Swami Sivananda’s teachings. Ideally seen, it is styled just like Hatha Yoga. But, a typical class of this yoga style begins with Shavasana. Kapalbhati and Anulom Vilom follows. And, then comes Surya Namaskar before practicing the 12 standard Asanas.
An average Sivananda Yoga class lasts for 90 minutes with the teacher chanting Om as the practitioners hold the poses.
Alignment is the focus here. There is no flow. It was created by B.K.S. Iyengar. It is more like Hatha class, but each pose held longer. The breath guides the practitioner to hold the poses longer while experiencing deeper stretches. Props are integral elements of an Iyengar Yoga class.
This pose is ideal for those who wish to deepen their practice and learn the poses thoroughly. It is also suitable for those who have chronic health issues and injuries. A typical class lasts anywhere between 60 to 90 minutes.
This yoga style is more popularly known as Hot Yoga. This style is ideal for those who want to sweat out the fat. The temperature of the room where the practice goes on is set to 40 Degrees C and the humidity to 40%. Hot yoga is a great way to detoxify the body and mind.
The style was invented by Bikram Choudhury. A typical Bikram Yoga class consists of 26 poses and is more like Vinyasa. One moves in and out of the poses, non-stop, but aligned with the breath. The poses have been incorporated into the flow in such a way that it systematically challenges the body parts.
The class is not for those who have chronic injuries or hypertension or any other health disorders.
It was Paulie Zink who initiated this yoga style of practice. He included only the seated postures from Hatha Yoga and held each one for more than 6 minutes, allowing the connective tissues to stretch and heal. However, it was Paul Grilley and Sarah Powers who established the tradition with the latter naming the practice as Yin Yoga.
It doesn’t contain that strenuous Vinyasa flows like your Ashtanga or Power classes. It gifts you a mesmerizing dose of flexibility and strength. The focus is more on the breath, and the intention is to let go. As you move from one asana to the next, there are no jerks or jumps. The movements are fluid and soft. You do not force yourself or hyper-extend your body. You just allow it to be in its natural state, allowing your breath to do rest of the work.
Some of the other styles worth mentioning here are:
- Kundalini Yoga
- Anusara Yoga
- Tantra Yoga
- Ariel Yoga
- Restorative Yoga
There are lots of other yoga styles that are popular today, including Forrest Yoga. But at the end of the day, a yoga practice is all about incorporating the Eight Limbs outlined by Maharishi Patanjali. So choose a yoga style that gels with your ideologies and start practicing today.