Different Types of Yoga – A Good Place To Start

types of yoga

Although most everyone has heard of yoga, many people are unaware of the many types of yoga, or perhaps have heard of them, but don’t know exactly what they are. You may have considered taking a yoga class but were confused on which class to take. Learning about the different types of yoga will allow you to choose the yoga type that is best suited for you, that will meet your goals and is appropriate for your fitness level and your physical condition. This article will explain exactly what yoga is, and provide a brief explanation of some of the popular yoga types.

Yoga Defined

According to Merriam Webster, yoga is:
•    “a Hindu theistic philosophy teaching the suppression of all activity of body, mind, and will in order that the self may realize its distinction from them and attain liberation”
•    “ a system of exercises for attaining bodily or mental control and well-being”

A Closer Look At The Different Types of Yoga

In order to choose the proper yoga type, you must first have some understanding of the various types. Read the short descriptions below to help you determine what type is best for you.

  • Ananda – This is a gentle yoga style, which prepares the student for meditation by combining yoga postures, breath awareness and affirmations .  Ananda Yoga is a practice in relaxation which includes a few strenuous techniques. Ananda Yoga teaches that relaxation is necessary for self-awareness.
  • Anusara – Anusara yoga is a form of hatha yoga developed by John Friend.  According to the anusara.com website, the philosophy is “grounded in Tantric philosophy of intrinsic goodness”.  Anusara’s meaning is “flowing with grace”, “flowing with nature”, or “following your heart”. Each student’s limitations are respected.
  • Ashtanga – Ashtanga yoga is a serious, fast-paced workout. This yoga is designed to build strength, flexibility and stamina. It’s also known as power yoga.
  • Bikram – Bikram yoga was developed by Birkram Choudhury, and is performed in a heated room, approximately 105 degress F, combined with 40%  humidity. There are 26 poses in Bikram yoga, many of which are focused on proper alignment.
  • Hatha – Hatha yoga emphasizes posture and breathing techniques. Hatha yoga is good for beginners.
  • Integral – Integral yoga, also known as purna yoga, is a full and complete yoga. The founder, Sri Aurobindo, defined integral yoga as “a path of integral seeking of the Divine by which all that we are is in the end liberated out of the Ignorance and its undivine formations into a truth beyond the Mind, a truth not only of highest spiritual status but of a dynamic spiritual self-manifestation in the universe.” Integral yoga is intended to harmonize karma, jnana and bhakti yoga. Integral yoga aims to transform the entire being, rather than a single aspect. It involves transforming the outer being by way of the psychic being. (5)
  • Kripalu – Kripalu is a gentle form of hatha yoga that focuses on breathing, meditation and self-discovery. Kripalu involves knowing both your body and spiritual side. Kripalu yoga is a good way to learn the basics of yoga and is good for those who get limited physical exercise or are out of shape.
  • Kundalini – Kundalini yoga focuses on developing strength, and is often termed ‘yoga of awareness’ because its practitioners claim “it expands sensory sensitivity, enhances intuition and merges individual consciousness with the infinite consciousness of God.” The goal of Kundalini yoga is to cultivate an individual’s creative and spiritual potential.
  • Sivananda – Sivananda yoga is gentle type of yoga which involves 12 salutation postures, meditation, chanting, and deep relaxation.  Teachers encourage positive thinking. This type of yoga was founded by Swami Vishnu-devananda, author of The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga.
  • Tantra – Tantra yoga involves discovering sensual spiruality. Tantra not only teaches you how to use yoru energy for sexual pleasure, but also for spiritual evolution. It involves chanting, visualization, and proper breathing techniques.
  • Viniyoga – This is gentle yoga that focuses on breathing and coordinating breath with movements. It is performed at a slow pace and has a low stress level. This form of yoga is good for the beginner, as the poses are chosen with consideration given to the student’s limitations. Viniyoga is less stressful on the joints than other types of yoga, as poses are done with the knees slightly bent.

This list doesn’t cover all types of yoga, but these are many of the popular types you see at gyms today.  Now that you have a better understanding of each type, select one that’s right for you and sign up for a class. Yoga is not only helpful for the body, but also for the mind.

History of Yoga

Yoga can be traced back to India over 5000 years ago and is one of the six orthodox systems of Indian philosophy.  Yoga is a technique to bring the mind and body in balance using various meditative and breathing strategies.  This mind-body balance results in both good physical and mental health. The health benefits of yoga are many, including flexibility, balance, proper posture, improved breathing and strength.  The meditative components of yoga help to improve concentration skills and relieve anxiety.


Do You Have A Favorite Type Of Yoga? If So Let Us Know Your Thoughts Below!

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