In this article learn all about the origins of the different types of yoga and much more. Find out which one is right for you.
Hatha (Ha= sun tha= moon) is the term used to describe the physical form of yoga which is the most common form in the West. All the types listed below are a branch of Hatha yoga.
Ashtanga is a dynamic fast paced yoga that focuses on a series of sequences (six in all). You must first complete one series before moving on to the next. The series gets harder as you progress and due to its difficult nature most people stick to the first and second series.
The emphasis in Ashtanga is on Vinyasa- the way the postures are connected through breath and movement. Power Yoga Is often a spin off of Ashtanga yoga.
Bikram yoga is based on a sequence of 26 postures. It is an athletic, physically focused yoga practised in a room heated to 35+ degrees (celcius). The room is heated intentionally to warm muscles hoping to achieve faster results in a shorter amount of time.
Be prepared to sweat. Hot Yoga is often another version of Bikram.
Integral yoga is a combination of specific methods to develop every aspect of the individual: physical, intellectual, and spiritual. The philosophy behind this type of yoga is “an easeful body, a peaceful mind, and a useful life.”
It incorporates other branches of yoga (Raja, Karma, Bhakti etc) alongside the ‘Hatha’ aspect to offer a more all round spiritual practise.
Iyengar is a technical form of yoga with a strong focus on alignment and use of props. There is usually a lot of instruction and discussion in an Iyengar class; you can expect to receive lots of hands on adjustments from the teacher.
Importance is also placed on the therapeutic benefits of the postures. Because of its precise and descriptive nature it is a good yoga for beginner students.
Jivamukti yoga combines asana (posture) with a variety of ancient and modern spiritual teachings. In addition to vinyasa flow-style sequences, classes include chanting, meditation, readings, music, and affirmations.
The background of this style comes from Ashtanga but it is a lot more versatile.
The aim of Kundalini yoga is to awake the dormant energy at the base of the spine and move it up through the chakras. Kundalini yoga is based on specially formulated sets of exercises incorporating dynamic breathing techniques and chanting. It is an invigorating, esoteric and energizing type of yoga.
Kripalu yoga is a therapeutic, gentle and spiritually focused form of yoga with an emphasis on blending meditation into the practice of asanas. There are three stages of Kripalu: wilful practice, wilful surrender and meditation in motion. Because of its gentle nature it is also good for beginner students.
Sivananda offers a traditional approach to yoga with a rigid class structure of asana, pranayama, meditation and relaxation. The principles of proper exercise (asanas); proper breathing (pranayama); proper relaxation (savasana); proper diet (vegetarian); positive thinking (Vedanta) and meditation (dhyana) are stressed in this form of yoga.
Viniyoga is not so much a name of yoga, but more of a methodology for developing personal practice. It is a therapeutic and individual approach to yoga. A program is tailored according to the needs of the individual and function is stressed over form.
This highly adaptable yoga is good for students with physical limitations or injuries.