This is the oldest and basic of all types of Yoga. "Ha" means "sun" and "tha" means "moon". Hatha Yoga is about balancing our inner solar and lunar energies. Hatha Yoga is a great way to introduce someone to Yoga because the poses are gentle and the flow is simple, slow-paced and smooth compared to some other styles. The various poses of Hatha Yoga focus more on breathing (Pranayama), relaxation and balance.
If one wants a workout Yoga then Ashtanga is your type of Yoga. Unlike the Hatha, Ashtanga is more intense, fast-paced, and physically demanding. Credit for this type of Yoga should be given to the one who developed it – K. Pattabhi Jois. Its poses are performed in a set of series with constant movement one after the other. The physical benefit that is gained from this style is endurance, stamina, flexibility, and strength and it is a superb way of getting the heart-rate going.
Vinyasa Yoga is one of the more popular styles of Yoga today. This type of Yoga works specifically with breath-synchronized movement. Its poses are performed in flowing series, similar to “Sun Salutations” but with other poses involved. There is not a set sequence in Vinyasa Yoga, the classes varies depending on who's teaching. Sometimes they are planned and sometimes the teacher intuitively creates the sequence during the class. It's a free, fluid and open style that attracts many modern yogis.
If one wants a workout Yoga then Ashtanga is your type of Yoga. Unlike the Hatha, Ashtanga is more intense, fast-paced, and physically demanding. Credit for this type of Yoga should be given to the one who developed it – K. Pattabhi Jois. In Sanskrit, the word Ashtanga means “eight limbs” and it refers to the eight limbs of Yoga from the Patanjali Yoga Sutras. In Ashtanga Yoga, the poses are performed in a set of series with constant movement one after the other. Basically, the physical benefit that is gained from this style is endurance, stamina, flexibility, and strength.
B. K. S. Iyengar is one of the famous yoga teachers and the proponent of this style. Iyengar Yoga is more concerned with alignment of the body and paying greater attention to detail when performing the poses. Alignment is also very important in Yoga as it teaches the body to pose in a precise position to acquire the maximum benefits of a certain pose and also to prevent possible injuries. The poses of Iyengar yoga are held for over a long period and in the transition to another pose it would require one to move quickly. This type of Yoga supports the use of props like straps, blocks, and yoga blankets to enable the alignment of the body.
Building body-mind connection with emphasis on breath in union with the body movement is what Kundalini Yoga. The general aim of Kundalini is to activate the unused energies from within the chakras of the body to strengthen or enhance the life force. This form of Yoga also involves chanting and puts great attention to the breathing control to allow the flow of energy upwards from the lower body.
One may already get the idea what Hot Yoga is from the adjective itself. Bikram Yoga is practiced in a steamy room with a temperature set from 95-105 degrees Fahrenheit (with 40% humidity) that will allow tight muscles, tendons and ligaments to loosen up and toxins to be cleansed away. With a hot room, sweat will profusely flow from the body which is considered the body’s pollutants. This method practices a series of 26 poses.
In Canada, a style called Moksha Yoga has developed out of Bikram Yoga. It is also practiced in a hot room and has added a number of postures, it totals to a series of 40 poses performed.
Viniyoga evolved from the teachings of the grandfather of yoga, T. Krishnamacharya and his son T.K.V. Desikachar. In this style of yoga is all about conforming to an individual’s needs based on his or her profile (age, current and historical health condition, as well as the physical condition). This type of Yoga customizes the program for each student and gives the training privately. Viniyoga is more concern with function rather than form. What is very essential here is the careful assimilation of the following: breath control, spine movement, intensity, and sequencing. Everything is dependent on the need of the individual.
This style gives a lot of emphasis on Tantra’s positive philosophy (inherent goodness of mankind) and physical alignment. Anusara Yoga is light-heart and alignment oriented and is very ideal for everyone because it honors and respects each person’s limitations and abilities. The poses are spiritually inviting and heart-oriented as it follows its literal meaning of “pursuing your heart’s desire” or “to act according to divine’s will”.
This style is Ashtanga-inspired incorporated with meditation, chanting, and teachings that are spiritually stimulating. If one wants a physically-intense and fun class with great music and some chanting then this may be the style for you.
This is another intense Asana workout kind of Yoga. The focus of the exercises is on deep breathing and abdominal strengthening to purify the body and release deep emotional issues and pain to enable one to move on with the healing process.
This type of Yoga is referred to as the Yoga of consciousness as it works according to a person’s flexibility and strength limits. This style of Yoga is focused on coordination of proper breathing and alignment as well as knowing and respecting the wisdom of the body. It turns you to look inward (towards healing and spiritual transformation). Learning the 3 stages in Kripalu is significant to be able to gain its benefits. Stage one is about exploring the abilities of your body and learning the appropriate postures. Second stage moves on to extending the period of holding the poses. This stage helps one develop focus and inner awareness. The last stage is enhancing the ability to spontaneously and unconsciously move from one pose to another.
This is one of the more traditional styles of Hatha Yoga. It is based on five principles: Asana (a set sequence of 12 poses), Pranayama, Savasana (proper relaxation), Vegetarianism, Vedanta (yogic philosophy) & Dhyana (meditation).
Different Styles of Yoga: