Have you ever found yourself confused about all the various styles of yoga out there? With so many names, schools, lineages, etc. it can be overwhelming and you’re wondering where to even begin!
After all, perhaps you’re simply looking to start doing just any yoga and see where it takes you. Or maybe you’ve been practicing yoga for years, yet now there’s way more styles than you recall when you first started. In collaboration with All Yoga, we’ve compiled this quick infographic with 15 popular styles that you’ll find in studios around the world.
Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga
Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is a dynamic style of yoga that was standardized and popularized by K. Pattabhi Jois. A modern-day form of traditional yoga from India, Ashtanga refers to eight limbs or branches, of which asana (physical yoga postures) is merely one. There is a series of 6 set sequences, which requires intense dedication to progress through in stages.
This style of asana (physical posture) practice focuses on breath-synchronized movements. Each posture links breath with specific body movements, creating a flowing meditation with each inhale and exhale. This style can be very fluid, and is often labeled Flow Yoga or Vinyasa Flow. Sequences may be creatively designed with no fixed sequence, and a different theme for each class. If you want to have an in-depth understanding of this style check out the article All You Need to Know About Vinyasa Yoga.
Developed by Larry Schultz in the late 1980s, this style of yoga was called the “The Rocket” because “it gets you there faster”. Rooted in Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga, it incorporates poses from the primary and intermediate series, allowing students to practice them without needing to progress in the strict order of these challenging sequences.
Dharma Yoga is a system of classical Hatha-Raja yoga, based on Sri Dharma Mittra’s lifetime of dedicated practice. This method integrates all eight limbs of Ashtanga yoga, in addition to the practice of Raja, Kundalini, Bhakti, Mantra, and Tantra. Students will aim to cultivate a devotional and mindful practice emphasizing “good health, clear mind and kind heart.”
Jivamukti combines a vinyasa-based physical style with adherence to five core tenets: shastra (scripture), bhakti (devotion), ahimsa (nonviolence, non-harming), nāda (music), and dhyana (meditation). It is a physical, ethical, and spiritual practice which encourages veganism, social activism and environmentalism. Classes usually include chanting and discussion of philosophy. This style was founded by Sharon Gannon and David Life.
Mysore style is a traditional Ashtanga Vinyasa practice done in a setting with others practicing at their own pace and abilities. A teacher will offer adjustments and guidance, tailored to each person’s needs. Ashtanga practitioners may choose to dedicate themselves to one teacher for long periods, to develop a deeper relationship and learn from someone who can observe their progress.
A Yin Yoga practice typically includes a series of long-held, passive floor poses that mainly target the lower part of the body – the hips, pelvis, inner thighs, lower spine. These areas are especially rich in connective tissues. The poses may be held for up to five minutes (or even longer) to release and break up fascia.
Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP Yoga) is a recent trend in yoga. The main component is practicing postures on a paddleboard on calm water (lake or beach). The instability of the board will challenge balance and coordination while moving in and out of poses. Part of the fun is cooling off by dunking in the water if you lose your balance!
A style of yoga which centers around partner poses. This is influenced in part by acrobatics and cheerleading, and can include challenging strength or flexibility moves. Some poses may be balancing postures; others might involve ‘flowing’ from one pose to the next like a dance routine.
Hatha is a broad term used to refer to a yoga practice done with the physical body. It is not actually a “style”. Hatha yoga emphasizes the importance of meditation, combined with postures, breath work, energy locks, dietary selection, or other external means to increase awareness and understanding for achieving harmony in the seemingly dualistic aspects of mind and body.
Bikram Yoga, sometimes considered Hot Yoga, is a system of yoga designed and trademarked by Bikram Choudhury. The poses are taken from traditional hatha yoga techniques and introduced to the West during the 1970s. Every Bikram Yoga Beginning Series classes are 90 minutes, and consist of the same series of 26 postures, including two breathing exercises. Postures are practiced in a heated room.
This method of yoga emphasizes precise anatomical details and the alignment of each posture. Iyengar Yoga highly encourages the use of props, and the practice can be modified and made accessible for anyone. This slow and steady style is designed to systematically cultivate strength, flexibility, stability, and awareness, and can be therapeutic for specific conditions.
A calming and centering type of yoga to soothe the nervous system, increase immunity and create deep relaxation. A restorative practice will typically use blankets, bolster, cushions or props to set up a comfortable pose that helps the practitioner release tension and feel at ease. No experience is necessary to join this type of class.
This term can refer to a class taught in a heated room for a number of benefits – encourages sweating for detoxification, increased heart rate for a more challenging aerobic practice, warmth to prevent muscular injuries, relieves stress and joint aches or arthritic pain. Hot yoga might sometimes refer to non-authorized classes which teach a set sequence similar to trademarked “Bikram Yoga”.
This is another broad term for a style of yoga which aims to heal the practitioner in various ways. The desired effect can be for body and mind. Also commonly called Yoga Therapy. This style will focus on easing pain or discomfort while helping restore balance and wellness. Appropriate and beneficial for everyone.
Want a hand to pick the yoga style that better suits you? Have some fun with this infographic and see which of the 4 main yoga styles is for you. Once you know it, try it on one of the thousands of yoga retreats at BookYogaRetreats.com!
*Article originally published on AllYogaTraining.