Types of Yoga: 8 Popular Forms
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Yoga is now practiced by over 300 million people worldwide, and you won’t need to travel far to find a yoga class to suit you.
With the focus over the last few years moving even further towards mental and physical wellbeing, yoga is only growing in popularity.
What are the 8 Types of Yoga?
There’s 8 main yoga styles practised worldwide: Hatha, Iyengar, Kundalini, Bikram, Sivananda, Vinyasa, Yin and Power yoga. These too can be divided into various subsections of yoga.
These types of yoga may differ in their emphasis on physical postures, breathwork, meditation and relaxation. Other types may alter the environment the yoga is practised in.
For example, Bikram yoga is traditionally practiced in a very hot room. Some yoga styles allow the teachers more freedom than others. While Bikram yoga consists of the same 26 postures, no two Vinyasa flow classes are the same.
While the yoga classes that can be found at your local leisure centre or gym are a fantastic introduction to this wonderful ancient practice, there’s 8 different types of yoga just waiting to be explored by yogis of all levels.
Hatha yoga is one of the most widely practised styles, beautifully combining movement with a meditative practice. A Hatha yoga session consists of both physical postures and breathing exercises. The postures are moved through slowly, with awareness.
Hatha yoga is made up of asana (the physical postures) and pranayama (working with the breath). Hatha is slower than other types of yoga, and it’s suitable for both beginners and experienced yogis.
Far fewer people are familiar with Iyengar yoga, but anyone who has practised yoga has likely incorporated elements of Iyengar yoga into their practice. Iyengar yoga was developed in the 60s, and places its emphasis on precision and alignment.
Like Hatha yoga, Iyengar yoga primarily consists of pranayama and asana, but there is a greater focus on correct posture.
For those new to yoga, Kundalini can seem a little wacky! This yoga practice offers teachers more freedom than other styles. While the focus is still on the breath and physical postures, Kundalini yoga incorporates chanting, meditation and singing.
This ancient practice has only recently become popular in Western culture, but it offers a range of health benefits while also helping yogis to build connections with those around them.
A Kundalini yoga teacher will often wear a white head covering such as a turban or hat, while students are also encouraged to wear white.
At the other end of the spectrum is Bikram yoga. While hot yoga classes are popular all around the world, few incorporate the rigidity of Bikram yoga.
Bikram yoga is technically a version of Hatha yoga, combining proper breathing with yoga postures. However, the structure is a little different, as each class features the same 26 yoga poses.
Bikram yoga takes place in a 40.5°C room, making it one of the toughest styles of this spiritual practice.
Sivananda yoga is another style of yoga that not many people have heard of. Another branch of Hatha yoga, this practice balances physical postures with breathing exercises and relaxation.
It was created by Swami Vishnudevananda, and relies on a core sequence of 12 postures followed in order. The emphasis is first on mastering these 12 asanas, and then variations can be added.
Vinyasa, or Vinyasa flow, is a style of yoga enjoyed by yogis all around the world. This practice is similar to Hatha, but the postures are moved through faster and in time with the breath.
There’s no strict rules or asanas to follow, and the yoga teachers have freedom to create their own ‘flows’. No two classes are ever alike, which makes Vinyasa yoga a great option for those looking for variety in their practice
It’s time to slow down! Founded in the 1970s, Yin yoga focuses on the deep connective tissues in the body. Classes involve holding various poses for a long period of time, moving slowly and gently between the postures.
Your hips, pelvis, inner thighs and lower spine are predominantly targeted.
Each posture can be held for up to 5 minutes at a time, which means Yin yoga classes can be deeply relaxing.
While not the type of yoga for those after a tough workout, Yin yoga can increase circulation, improve flexibility and calm the mind and body. It’s a popular choice for prenatal yoga thanks to its deeply calming stretches and emphasis on mental clarity.
Power yoga is a more general term, used to describe Vinyasa yoga with a stronger emphasis on fitness. Often thought of as the more ‘superficial’ form of yoga, Power yoga classes are easy to find at local gyms.
It’s one of the less spiritual practices, but a great form of exercise. It focuses on building heat, stamina and strength throughout the body. Expect to explore arm balances, deep stretches and high energy movements.
- These 8 of yogic techniques are Hatha, Iyengar, Kundalini, Bikram, Sivananda, Vinyasa, Yin and Power.
- Hatha yoga uses physical posture (known as Yoga Sutras) and breathing exercises to calm the mind and body.
- Iyengar places a greater emphasis on physical correct alignment and precision than other styles.
- Kundalini yoga uses meditation, deep breathing, singing and chanting to release stagnant energy in the body.
- Bikram yoga is practiced in a hot room and uses the same 26 yoga postures every time.
- Sivananda yoga consists of 12 postures, with an emphasis on relaxation and breath control.
- Vinyasa yoga is a faster version of Hatha! Yogis have a ‘continuous flow’ through the postures in time with their breath.
- Yin yoga is a great prenatal and restorative practice. Deep stretches are held for up to 5 minutes at a time.
- A great form of exercise, Power yoga focuses on building heat and stamina throughout the body.