Whether you are seeking a vigorous physical workout or a gentle practise for relaxation and restoration, there are different types of yoga styles suited to your needs. Find the yoga style that aligns with your body, mind, and spirit, and experience the transformative power of this ancient practise.
This page explores the rich tapestry of yoga styles, where you will discover different types of yoga practises that cater to various preferences and goals.
With a wide range of yoga styles available, you can choose the kind of yoga that resonates with you and supports your journey towards balance, harmony, and self-realisation.
Origin of Yoga
The word ‘yoga’ originates from the Sanskrit term ‘yuj’, which translates to ‘union’. Its earliest mention can be found in the Rig Veda, an ancient text. Yoga’s roots can be traced back more than 5,000 years to northern India.
Over the centuries, this ancient practise has evolved and flourished, offering profound advantages for the body, mind, and spirit to those who embrace it.
During the late 1890s, Indian monks began sharing their profound knowledge of yoga with the Western world. These teachings introduced the different yoga styles, practises, and poses to a broader audience.
By the 1970s, modern yoga had gained significant popularity in Western countries, leading to its widespread adoption and continuous growth.
Yoga, the art of living well, encompasses all aspects of our lives, including physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. By incorporating different types and styles of yoga into our routine, we can find balance and harmony within ourselves.
Through practising yoga poses (asanas), engaging in breathing exercises (pranayama), and embracing meditation, one can unite and align their body, mind, and emotions. This comprehensive approach to yoga offers numerous benefits, improving the physical health while equipping individuals with effective tools to manage stress and overcome mental challenges.
By integrating yoga into our daily lives, we can experience a healthier and more fulfilling existence, fostering inner peace and overall well-being.
Benefits of Yoga
Yoga offers powerful mental and physical healing benefits, working on the principles of harmony and integration. The benefits of yoga vary for each individual, as the practise has unique effects on different people. Yoga provides a wide range of benefits, including:
- Increased muscle strength
- Improved flexibility
- Better posture
- Enhanced spine health
- Increased blood flow
- Reduced stress
- Improved balance
- Better sleep
- Peace of mind
- Boosted self-esteem
- Promotion of a healthy lifestyle
- Improved focus
- Boosted immunity
Exploring Different Types of Yoga Styles and Poses
Yoga has evolved into various styles, each focusing on different aspects such as exercise, strength, flexibility, and breathing. These different kinds of yoga styles offer a wide range of physical and mental benefits, allowing practitioners to enhance their overall wellbeing.
Let’s dive into some of these yoga styles and their unique characteristics:
- Ashtanga Yoga
Ashtanga Yoga is a traditional form of yoga that gained popularity in the 1970s. It incorporates ancient teachings and focuses on a specific sequence of postures combined with rapid breathing.
- Bikram Yoga
Bikram Yoga, commonly referred to as ‘Hot’ Yoga, involves performing a series of 26 poses and two breathing exercises in a heated room with temperatures reaching approximately 105˚ C and 40% humidity. This practise provides a demanding and rigorous experience for practitioners.
- Hatha Yoga
Hatha Yoga is a broad term that encompasses any yoga style that focuses on physical postures. It serves as an introductory practise for beginners, providing a gentle introduction to fundamental yoga poses while establishing a solid foundation for further advancement in the practise.
- Iyengar Yoga
Iyengar Yoga places a strong emphasis on proper alignment and uses various props such as blankets, pillows, and chairs to ensure correct posture in each pose. It is suitable for practitioners of all levels and is often used for therapeutic purposes.
- Jivamukti Yoga
Jivamukti Yoga emerged in 1984 and combines physical postures with spiritual teachings and practises. It emphasises the flow between poses and explores yoga scriptures, chanting, meditation, pranayama (breathing exercises), and music.
- Kripalu Yoga
Kripalu Yoga emphasises the importance of self-acceptance and self-awareness. It encourages practitioners to tune into their bodies and engage in the practise at their own pace and level.
Typically, Kripalu Yoga begins with breathing exercises and gentle stretching, followed by the exploration of individual poses. The session concludes with a final relaxation to promote deep relaxation and rejuvenation.
- Kundalini Yoga
Kundalini Yoga aims to awaken the dormant spiritual energy within the body. It involves dynamic movements, chanting, meditation, and breathwork to release energy blockages and promote spiritual growth.
- Power Yoga
Power Yoga, developed in the 1980s, is a dynamic and physically demanding form of yoga influenced by Ashtanga Yoga. It focuses on flexibility, strength, and endurance, combining flowing sequences with challenging poses.
- Sivananda Yoga
Sivananda Yoga follows a five-point philosophy that includes relaxation, proper breathing, exercise, diet, and positive thinking. Classes typically include the same 12 basic poses, along with variations, and may incorporate Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) and savasana (final relaxation).
- Adaptation Yoga
Adaptive Yoga is a practise that can be tailored to accommodate individuals of all physical abilities. Teachers undergo specialised training and have expertise in anatomy and yoga therapy to cater to the unique needs of each practitioner.
- Yin Yoga
It is a calming and meditative practise, also known as Taoist yoga. It focuses on releasing tension in major joints and connective tissues, promoting deep relaxation and flexibility.
- Prenatal yoga
Prenatal Yoga is specifically designed for pregnant women, using modified poses to support the physical and emotional changes experienced during pregnancy. It can help maintain fitness, ease discomfort, and prepare for childbirth.
- Relax Yoga
Restorative Yoga is a gentle and relaxing form of yoga that involves holding simple poses supported by props such as bolsters and blankets. It promotes deep relaxation and rejuvenation, allowing the body and mind to unwind.
Four Main Yoga Paths
The paths of yoga refer to different philosophical approaches or spiritual paths within the broader yoga tradition. These paths guide individuals in their journey towards self-realisation and spiritual growth.
- Karma Yoga
Karma yoga is the path of selfless work and devotion. It involves dedicating energy, time, and effort to tasks without expecting any reward or recognition. The practise is humbling, as it focuses on working for the collective good rather than for personal gain.
- Jnana Yoga
Jnana yoga is the path of practical wisdom and intellectual knowledge. It centres on attaining self-realisation through the practice of mindful awareness.
Through stages of hearing, thinking, and meditating, individuals acquire wisdom and cultivate intuitive insight, enabling them to differentiate between the ego and the authentic essence of their being.
- Raja Yoga
Raja yoga, also called ‘yoga of the mind’ or ‘classical yoga’, is often referred to as ashtanga yoga. It consists of eight steps, including principles (Yama), personal discipline (niyama), postures (asana), breathing practises (pranayama), withdrawal (pratyahara), concentration (dharana), meditation (dhyana), and salvation (samadhi).
Raja yoga emphasises the perfection of asanas over time and includes various breathing exercises to combat stress and promote overall wellbeing.
- Bhakti Yoga
Bhakti yoga is the path of devotion and love towards a higher power. It involves worshipping or loving God, aiming to unite the individual’s soul (atman) with the divine (Brahman). Different types of bhaktis are followed, such as those seeking liberation, material wealth, knowledge, or self-awareness, depending on the individual’s chosen path of devotion.
Potential Risks of Yoga
While yoga is generally considered safe, it is important to be mindful of certain risk factors before you start a practise.
- It is rare to experience serious injuries during yoga, with sprains and strains being the most common.
- Pregnant individuals or those with underlying medical conditions such as glaucoma, bone loss, or sciatica should consult a doctor before beginning yoga.
Certain poses may need to be modified or avoided to suit specific conditions. Beginners should steer clear of advanced postures and challenging techniques, such as Lotus Pose and Headstand.
It is important to keep in mind that yoga should not serve as a substitute for traditional medical treatment, and any ongoing pain or medical issues should be addressed by a qualified healthcare professional.
The world of yoga offers a wide array of styles and practises to suit diverse preferences. From Hatha Yoga to Vinyasa Yoga, Bhakti Yoga to Ashtanga Yoga, there is a type of yoga for everyone.
Each style has its own unique benefits and focuses, catering to various aspects of physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing. Whether you seek strength, flexibility, mindfulness, or self-realisation, the different types of yoga practises provide an avenue for personal growth and holistic health.
Embrace the varied yoga styles and poses and embark on a transformative journey towards balance and inner harmony.
Types of Yoga FAQs
What are the five major types of yoga?
There are different kinds of yoga that offer distinct approaches and benefits. These include Hatha Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Bikram Yoga, and Kundalini Yoga. Each of these yoga styles has its own unique characteristics and focuses, allowing practitioners to choose the one that aligns with their preferences and goals.
What are the eight styles of yoga?
There are eight widely practised and popular styles of yoga that encompass a range of approaches and techniques. These styles include Ashtanga yoga, Hot yoga, Hatha yoga, Iyengar yoga, Power yoga, Restorative yoga, Kundalini yoga, and Vinyasa yoga.
What are the four main paths of yoga?
These paths include Bhakti Yoga (the path of devotion), Karma Yoga (the practise of selfless service), Raja Yoga (the discipline of meditation), and Jnana Yoga (the cultivation of knowledge and intellect).
What is the most popular yoga?
Hatha yoga is a popular and beginner-friendly style that combines gentle sequences with meditation. Its relatively easy postures make it an ideal choice for those new to yoga.
What is the hardest type of yoga?
Achieving mastery in any form of yoga requires dedicated practise over the course of several years. It's important to recognise that perfection in postures is not attained on the first day of practise. Similarly, gaining control over the mind is a gradual process that takes time. Concentration can be challenging for some, while certain yoga postures may initially pose difficulty.
Which type of yoga is best for weight loss?
All kinds of yoga have the potential to contribute to weight loss. Dynamic and powerful yoga postures provide the advantages of a full-body workout, effectively burning calories through sustained and rapid movements.
What kind of yoga is mostly stretching?
Restorative yoga is a meditative form of yoga that involves gentle stretching and holding poses for extended periods, typically lasting several minutes.
What are the disadvantages of yoga?
In general, there are no drawbacks or disadvantages to yoga; however, when practised improperly or without proper guidance, yoga can potentially lead to injuries or strain.
What is the best time to do yoga?
Yoga is often practised during the early morning or evening hours to harness its full range of benefits.
How quickly does yoga change your body?
The timeframe for experiencing the benefits of yoga can vary from individual to individual. Compared with intense workouts, yoga typically requires considerable time to yield noticeable results.