Wheel pose.

Common Styles of Yoga Explained

Wheel pose.
Wheel pose.

Have you ever attended a yoga class and felt out of your comfort zone? You’re not alone! With so many different types of yoga available, it can be hard to make sense of what type of yoga is right for you and your body. So I decided to put together a handy list of common styles of yoga that you are likely to come across on a yoga studio’s schedule (once you can go back to in-person yoga classes that is).

Camel pose.
Camel pose.

Ashtanga

The oldest and most traditional style of yoga is the practice of Ashtanga yoga. A rigorous style of yoga with a set sequence of postures, Ashtanga yoga is one of the most physically demanding styles of yoga asana, ideal for those looking to build physical stamina.

Hatha

Arguably the most widely practiced style of yoga, Hatha is considered basic yoga as it is ideal for beginners. The slower pace stimulates the connection between the body and mind, allowing students to ease their way into everyday yoga.

Iyengar

If attending an Iyengar yoga class, you will most likely be using several props—strap, blocks, bolsters, and blankets—in order to obtain correct alignment in each posture. This style of yoga emphasizes proper form because each pose is held for several breaths. Improper alignment runs the risk of injury, which is why you will most likely see your yoga instructor walking around the room, checking each student’s form.

Vinyasa

Commonly describes as flow yoga, Vinyasa aims to synchronize the body’s movements with the breath to create a connected sequence. Vinyasa classes vary since there are many ways to create a flowing sequence of poses—which is half the fun and why this style of yoga is my personal favorite!

Bikram & Hot Yoga

Bikram and hot yoga are commonly thought of as the same, however, there is one distinct difference: Bikram yoga is a 90-minute practice composed of 26 poses practiced in a heated room (typically 95–105 degrees Fahrenheit). If you like consistency and don’t mind sweating, this yoga practice is for you! If you are looking for more freedom, try hot yoga but make sure it is not a Bikram class. Hot yoga can be practiced following vinyasa, hatha, or any style of yoga really—just in a hot and humid room.

Power Yoga

A more intense form of yoga, power yoga is a cross between ashtanga and vinyasa—fast-paced and non-traditional with a focus on building strength and flexibility.

Yin

A meditative practice that requires students to hold poses for 5–7 minutes, yin yoga is a slow and steady practice with an emphasis on deep stretching of the muscles and facia.

Restorative

Restorative yoga focuses on relaxation and rest. Simple poses are practiced with props to promote cleansing and relaxation of the body.

Kundalini

A spiritual style of yoga, Kundalini yoga involved breathing exercises, chants, and meditations commonly practiced in a group setting.

IMG_20200202_113439-01
Wheel pose.

To be completely honest, I didn’t know about half of these yoga offerings until after I finished my yoga teacher training program. Thankfully, I had the opportunity to try a variety of different classes while in training, which expanded my knowledge of yoga asana. So, my biggest piece of advice to those still trying to find their yoga style: try them all! If one style doesn’t fit the bill, move on until you know exactly which one(s) are right for you and your body. You may be surprised in what else you find along the way. . .

Until next time,

Leah Pinkus

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