Whether you’re new to yoga or are looking to expand your practice, you’re in good company—according to Yogi Times, more than 300 million people do yoga worldwide.
One of the allures of yoga is that there are many different types. Therefore, you can choose a style that feels sustainable for you. Alternatively, you can mix and match yoga styles to avoid the boredom that can come with other exercise routines.
We’ll cover six of the most popular types of yoga. So, grab your mat, and let’s get started.
Hatha is one of the most popular yoga practices, as it involves a series of breathing, relatively easy yoga poses, and mediation. So if you encounter a yoga course labeled “Yoga,” more likely than not, it’s the Hatha variety.
When practicing Hatha, you’ll perform a series of gentle, static postures (called asana in yoga lingo). Nevertheless, don’t let the word “gentle” fool you—many of the postures require balance and strength. You can also modify many poses to fit your current fitness level, with some of the modifications creating an extreme challenge.
You’ll also focus on breathing techniques during the postures. These will help you relax and drive oxygen throughout your body, which will improve your performance. You can expect your Hatha class to end with a meditation. Often, you’ll do so lying on your back.
If this is your first time hearing the word “Bikram,” it’s likely not your first encounter with the concept of Bikram, which is a type of hot yoga. Not only will you need to withstand performing yoga in a 105-degree room, but you’ll also have to be comfortable with doing the same yoga routine every class.
Only Bikram-certified instructors can teach these yoga classes. Your instructor will take you through 26 poses over 90 minutes. Some of the poses require an advanced level of fitness and balance, although you can make modifications.
Unlike Hatha, Bikram is a new type of yoga, having its start in the early 1970s. According to the official Bikram Yoga webpage, the combination of postures and high temperatures maximize organ, vein, ligament, and muscle health.
Vinyasa is a beautiful type of yoga to watch and an empowering one to perform since it requires strength and breath to move from one yoga posture to the next without pause. When performing this practice, you’ll use the Ujjayi breath style, which involves breathing through the nose, creating a sense of relaxation.
There’s a symbolic meaning to vinyasa, as it represents the temporary nature of life—entering one phase before passing to another. It’s also one of the best types of yoga for creating more balance in your body, as each session consists of different postures.
Vinyasa’s nickname is “flow yoga” because of the transition in movement between postures. In fact, the transitions are also a type of posture, as they require a significant amount of strength, flexibility, and balance to make them seamless.
Jivamukti yoga embodies a yoga practice both on and off the mat. The idea is that your relationship with people, animals, and the environment should be mutually beneficial, following the practice’s five tenants. For this reason, those who practice Jivamukti are vegan and environmental and social activists.
Taking a Jivamukti class involves a spiritual journey. You’ll begin by setting an intention and performing a chant. Breathing exercises are also a focus of the Jivamukti practice, along with Vinyasa moves and meditation. Inner listening and elevated music encompass Jivamukti yoga, and they encourage students to learn by listening instead of watching.
Jivamukti yoga is even newer than Bikram—it began in 1984 by New Yorkers who became inspired after practicing yoga in India. Today, there are many Jivamukti centers throughout the world, with one of the most well-known being the Wild Woodstock Jivamukti Forest Sanctuary in New York.
Ashtanga yoga is popularly called “power yoga.” Ashtanga is one of the unique types of yoga because an instructor doesn’t lead the class. Instead, you must arrive already knowing the asana postures. Then, as you move through them, an instructor will walk around the room and support you with making adjustments.
If goals drive you, ashtanga could be an excellent fit for you. Everyone begins at the Primary series level. Then, as you improve, you can move through the six series. Don’t expect to get through these series quickly, though—it’ll take years for you to master them.
A few components of the ashtanga practice include tristhana, vinyasa, breath, and bandhas. The name “ashtanga” comes from the Sanskrit language, meaning “eight limbs.” None of these limbs are physical, and people who practice ashtanga believe that you need to move through your yoga journey, mastering one limb at a time.
Iyengar yoga is ideal for beginners, people of any age, and those of any fitness level. B.K.S. Iyengar founded this modern-day type of yoga, although he based it on the concept of eight-limb yoga.
Often, Iyengar yoga uses props such as blocks and blankets to help you perform various asanas. As a result, it makes it easier for the elderly and people with other limitations to practice yoga. In addition, Iyengar focuses heavily on alignment when performing each position. Therefore, it’s a slower-moving yoga than certain other types, and it minimizes injury risk.
If you’re taking a yoga class, your teacher will correct you if you’re not performing the asana correctly, as precision is essential. They’ll then explain how making the corrections will positively impact your body and yoga experience. You can expect to hold each asana longer than other yoga practices, which will help lengthen and relax your muscles.
Which Type of Yoga Will You Choose?
Regardless of the type of yoga that you decide to practice, you can expect to become healthier because of it. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, yoga improves heart health, increases energy, and reduces stress.
What are you waiting for? Sign up for a yoga course or pull out your mat and do yoga from your home.z