There are so many different types of yoga out there, whether you want a more physically demanding class or an easy, relaxing, meditative class.

With each style a bit different from the others, you’ll find variations depending on the teacher. Giving a few styles and teachers a try before settling on your favorite will enhance your overall yoga experience and challenge you to break out of your comfort zone. While lineages aren’t as relevant today as they once were, if you’re looking for a traditional style, this guide will help you understand the basics before diving into a class.

Here are the 11 major types of yoga:

1. Vinyasa yoga

Vinyasa means “to place in a special way” and, in this case, yoga postures. Vinyasa yoga is the often considered the most athletic yoga style. Vinyasa was adapted from ashtanga yoga in the 1980s. Many types of yoga can also be considered vinyasa flows such as ashtanga, power yoga, and prana.

How to practice:

In vinyasa classes, the movement is coordinated with your breath and movement to flow from one pose to another. Vinyasa styles can vary depending on the teacher, and there can be many types of poses in different sequences. I personally teach an alignment-based style of vinyasa and choreograph new flows every time, but I also like to hold some of the poses a bit longer after warming up. You can find more information on specific vinyasa poses and benefits here.

2. Hatha yoga

The Sanskrit term “hatha” is an umbrella term for all physical postures of yoga. In the West, hatha yoga simply refers to all the other styles of yoga (ashtanga, Iyengar, etc.) that are grounded in a physical practice. However, there are other branches of yoga such as kriya, raja, and karma yoga that are separate from the physical-based yoga practice. The physical-based yoga is the most popular and has numerous styles.

How to practice:

Hatha yoga classes are best for beginners since they are usually paced slower than other yoga styles. Hatha classes today are a classic approach to breathing and exercises. If you are brand-new to yoga, hatha yoga is a great entry point to the practice.

3. Iyengar yoga

Iyengar yoga was founded by B.K.S. Iyengar and focuses on alignment as well as detailed and precise movements. In an Iyengar class, students perform a variety of postures while controlling the breath.

How to practice:

Generally, poses are held for a long time while adjusting the minutiae of the pose. Iyengar relies heavily on props to help students perfect their form and go deeper into poses in a safe manner. Although you won’t jump around, you will definitely get a workout and feel incredibly open and relaxed after an Iyengar class. This style is really great for people with injuries who need to work slowly and methodically.

4. Kundalini yoga

Kundalini yoga practice is equal parts spiritual and physical. This style is all about releasing the kundalini energy in your body said to be trapped, or coiled, in the lower spine.

How to practice:

These classes really work your core and breathing with fast-moving, invigorating postures and breath exercises. These classes are pretty intense and can involve chanting, mantra, and meditation. To learn more about this specific practice, check out our kundalini yoga explainer.

5. Ashtanga yoga

In Sanskrit, ashtanga is translated as “Eight Limb path.” In Mysore, India, people gather to practice this form of yoga together at their own pace—if you see Mysore-led ashtanga, it’s expected of you to know the series. Vinyasa yoga stems from ashtanga as the flowing style linking breath to movement. To learn more about this specific practice, check out our beginner’s guide to ashtanga yoga.

How to practice:

Ashtanga yoga involves a very physically demanding sequence of postures, so this style of yoga is definitely not for the beginner. It takes an experienced yogi to really love it. Ashtanga starts with five sun salutation A’s and five sun salutation B’s and then moves into a series of standing and floor postures.

6. Bikram yoga

Bikram yoga is named after Bikram Choudhury and features a sequence of set poses in a sauna-like room—typically set to 105 degrees and 40% humidity. Choudhury faced sexual assault and harassment lawsuits in the U.S. and fled to Mexico in 2017. Many studios that were formerly Bikram now practice hot yoga, in an effort to disassociate with the founder.

How to practice:

The sequence includes a series of 26 basic postures, with each one performed twice. Many of these poses are focused on proper alignment. If you’re interested in yoga with the heat turned up, look for studios that offer hot yoga classes.

7. Yin yoga

Yin yoga is a slow-paced style of yoga with seated postures that are held for longer periods of time. Yin can also be a meditative yoga practice that helps you find inner peace.

How to practice:

Yin is a great class for beginners, as postures can be held for from 45 seconds to 2 minutes. The classes are relaxed, as you’re supposed to let gravity do most of the work. Check out our crash course on everything you need to know about yin yoga, found here.

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Source URL: Destination Yoga

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