What Is Yoga: Understanding the Different Types of Yoga?

It is impossible to list all the physical activities practiced across the world without mentioning yoga. Due to its benefits, yoga practice has a lot of followers from across the world. For example, yoga can improve an individual’s balance, flexibility, and strength when practiced regularly. Yet, many people practice it to loosen up, quieten thoughts, and release stress.

What is Yoga

If you aren’t a yogi, it can be hard for you to define this ancient practice from the East. According to experienced yogi Miriam Amselem, yoga is a practice that involves unifying the body, mind, and spirit. “It helps you discover and connect with your body through balance, stretching techniques, meditation, breathing, and refocusing the mind and spirit.” That’s what yoga is all about.

There are different types of yoga, each with its definition and meaning. To help beginners understand the many types of yoga, we are going to discuss that comprehensively in this article. Let’s get going!

1. Hatha Yoga

“Hatha” is a Sanskrit term referring to all forms of physical yoga postures. Westerners, having borrowed the term, use hatha yoga to refer to yoga styles that involve physical practice. Examples include Ashtanga and Iyengar. It excludes other yoga styles like karma, raja, and kriya yoga, which do not involve physical practice.

Due to its slower pace, hatha yoga is the best for beginners. It involves getting into a pose and then meditating while breathing in and out. In the process, one learns lots of other relaxation techniques.

2. Vinyasa Yoga

In Sanskrit, the term “Vinyasa” means “to place uniquely.” So, Vinyasa yoga is a routine that involves a sequence of distinct hatha yoga poses. Each movement goes in tandem with breathing exercises. Due to its quick pace, Vinyasa yoga is more physically demanding. A yogi holds one pose for a short while before moving to the next to maintain a high heart rate.

It is designed for individuals looking to tone their bodies and work their core and upper bodies. The results are the same as those from any other cardio workout. It is up to the teacher to settle on a particular structure for this type of yoga.

3. Iyengar Yoga

This type of yoga is named after B.K.S. Iyengar, its founder. It provides a great way to exercise when injured or with joint problems. Iyengar yoga aims to correctly align the body and involves precise moves. You get into a pose and hold your breath for some time. The more experienced a yogi gets, the longer he or she can hold their breath.

The practice relies on various props including blankets, blocks, and traps. It is perfect for improving flexibility, mobility, stability, and strength.

4. Ashtanga Yoga

Ashtanga, meaning the “eight limb path” is a form of yoga that has been made popular by celebrities across the world. Due to its physically demanding nature, it is not recommended for newbie yogis. You have to do multiple surynamaskars interspersed with floor and standing postures.

Every Ashtanga yoga class involves a repetition of six posture series. It is also referred to as Power Yoga, which begins with primary series, master it, and graduate to the best level. You have to practice Ashtanga yoga for years to fully master it.

5. Bikram Yoga

Developed by Bikram Choudhury, this type of yoga has its classes in rooms with artificial heating. The purpose is to enable yogis to sweat profusely as they perform 26 successive poses. Each session involves yogis repeatedly following a sequence of poses.

The room has to be at least 41 degrees Celsius and 40 percent humid. As you sweat, the body releases toxins as you work out your entire body using the postures. In the process, every part of your body receives its fair share of oxygenated blood. Bikram yoga classes can be found almost everywhere in the world

6. Kripalu Yoga

Kripalu yoga pursues a more spiritual path and not just the physical. It focuses more on meditation, deep relaxation, pranayama, and self-reflection. So, hectic asanas are rarely the aim of Kripalu yoga. It destresses the body and mind for better self-awareness and health. Since it is less physical, it doesn’t rely on rigid poses like the other types of yoga. A yogi can modify the poses depending on the needs of the body.

7. Anusara Yoga

Anusara yoga was developed by John Friend in 1997 as an off-shoot of Hatha yoga. Its main focus is alignment sequences that seek to connect the mind-body and soul. Friends developed what he called the Universal Principles of Alignment. The teacher uses a sequence of poses to exercise the body and the mind. A yogi needs various props to practice this type of yoga.

8. Hot Yoga

Hot yoga is very similar to Bikram yoga. Only that the sequences used in hot yoga slightly vary from those for Bikram yoga. Since Bikram yoga is proprietary, practitioners of this kind of yoga are forced to use a different name. The room is usually heated to enable yogis to sweat it out and get rid of body toxins. One must have the appropriate accessories to practice hot yoga.

9. Kundalini Yoga

Kundalini yoga emphasizes the physical and the spiritual part of a human being. It involves lots of physically and mentally demanding moves with a combination of breathing exercises, mudras, chanting, and meditation. The efforts aim at releasing kundalini energy from the lower spine. It involves a lot of fast postures interspersed with relaxation.

The teacher shows you how to focus on internal sensations and feel the energy flow through you until you can release kundalini-shakti. With this type of pf yoga, you get much more than just a workout.

10. Jivamukti Yoga

In 1984, David Life and Sharon Ganon founded Jivamukti yoga. It involves Vinyasa sequences and teachings from the Hindu religion. The practice lays a major emphasis on the connection between living things and the Earth. People who practice this routine are mostly vegetarians. During the classes, yogis also practice pranayama, deep relaxation, chanting, and meditation. Music and poetry may also be incorporated.


The type of yoga you choose largely depends on your objectives. If you want to simply exercise, you should go for the appropriate styles. Otherwise, you may want to pursue a more spiritual direction in terms of the yoga style you choose. Yoga helps you to stay fit both emotionally and physically. It gives you the calm feeling that activities such as camping with your family or hitting the gym would.

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