Styles of yoga

Yoga is an ancient practice but there are many new, modern yoga styles. The most famous ones, explained.

Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga

Not to be confused with what is known in the West as Vinyasa or Power Yoga, which is derived from this one.

Ashtanga or Ashtanga Vinyasa was created by K. Pattabhi Jois, who began his yoga studies at the age of 12. Ashtanga means eight limbs or branches. These eight limbs go from moral codes to deep meditation.

Even though this style has received its own criticism, Pattabhi Jois has stated that Power Yoga is “ignorant bodybuilding”.

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Vinyasa or Power Yoga

Developed in the 80s and based on Ashtanga Vinyasa, Power Yoga is also known as simply Vinyasa in the West.

Loved by aerobic enthusiasts (remember it was born in the 80s with all the aerobics craze), Power Yoga is an active style of yoga.

Many gyms and studios (as well as Youtube channels) refer to it as “Flow”.

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Hatha Yoga

One of the original branches of yoga, Hatha is now colloquially termed as simply “yoga” but it’s actually a style that focuses on physical strength, with “hatha” meaning “force” in Sanskrit.

Classes described as Hatha yoga may feature a classical approach, sometimes including some breathing exercises and meditation.

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Iyengar Yoga

Iyengar Yoga is a form of Hatha Yoga.

Named after and developed by B. K. S. Iyengar, it has an emphasis on detail, precision, and alignment in the performance of asanas and pranayama (postures and breath control).

It often makes use of props such as belts, blocks, and blankets.

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Kundalini Yoga

A mix of other yoga styles and called by practitioners “the yoga of awareness“, Kundalini Yoga (also known as Laya Yoga) gets its name from a focus on awakening kundalini energy through regular practice of meditation, pranayama, chanting mantra, and asanas.

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Yin Yoga

Yin yoga is a slow-paced style (the opposite of Flow or Vinyasa) with postures that are held for long periods of time:

Beginners might stay on a pose for 1-2 minutes while advanced yogis might stay on the same asana for more than five!

Its aim is to increase circulation and improve flexibility. It also focuses on meditation, which is easier to practice due to its slow pace and calmness.

Yin yoga’s teaching in the Western world began in the late 70s; it was founded by Paulie Zink, a martial arts expert and Taoist yoga. It was popularized in the US and Europe by Paul Grilley and Sarah Powers.

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Bikram or Hot Yoga

Probably the most popular yoga style today, Bikram Yoga is also known as Hot Yoga because it’s practiced in a sauna-like room.

It’s ideally practiced in a room heated to 35–42 °C (95–108 °F) with a humidity of 40% during official classes (those with the name “Bikram”, taught by certified teachers who have completed nine weeks of training endorsed by Choudhury).

Classes run for 90 minutes and consist of the same series of 26 postures, including two breathing exercises.

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