The Different Types of Yoga – An Introduction to The Most Common Yoga Styles
Yoga is a training system for body and mind that can be traced back more than 5000 years. It focuses on what is here and now and on being present. Therefore yoga has become more popular than ever – it brings back focus on the present, in a world that is constantly changing and where humans are often focusing on the future instead of the present. There are many different types of yoga and they are all a development of the ancient form. However, as a beginner it can be very difficult to know which type of yoga to try out with. Only by trying different styles, you can find out which one suit you better. Therefore, this article will provide you with a brief overview of some of the most common types of yoga.
The classical Hatha yoga consists of the original physical postures and breathing exercises, usually done in a calm and relaxed pace with pauses between the positions. Most of the yoga types performed in the West are inspired by Hatha, and they all vary in their shape in terms of 'asanas' – the natural positions – and their focus on breathing and meditation. The focus of Hatha is typically to perform the classic posts properly in accordance with the body's abilities. 'Ha' means in Sanskrit 'sun' while 'tha' means 'moon'. Hatha represents the duality in life – yin and yang, masculine and feminine, darkness and light. Hatha Yoga tries to balance these opposing forces.
Vinyasa yoga is more dynamic than Hatha yoga since the yoga exercises are performed at a fast pace without long breaks between them in a flow. The name Vinyasa refers to the movement respiratory system, and it is about the relationship of the breath and the movements. During the practice of Vinyasa yoga much heat is formed in the body and therefore the body produces a lot of waste through sweat.
Astanga yoga is a very physically challenging type of yoga, and provides good training for strength, flexibility and endurance. Astanga yoga consists of a series of yoga exercises performed in a flow without a break in between. In Astanga Yoga, the breathing must be coordinated with the movements as in Vinyasa Yoga.
Yin yoga is developed by Paul Grilley, and is a tranquil type of yoga, which focuses on deep stretching and balancing of the body. In Yin Yoga positions are held for a long time. Yin yoga combines wisdom from Taoism and Chinese acupuncture with the Indian yoga philosophy.
Power yoga is based on Astanga yoga and for those who want a vigorous workout. This type of yoga is often seen in gyms and fitness centers. Even though it is based on Astanga yoga, it is often a mixture of many different types of yoga, forming a very dynamic yoga class.
Iyengar Yoga was developed by BKS Iyengar – one of the most known yoga teachers in the world. In the physical positions there is a strong emphasis on detail and on body position and straight lines. Another characteristic of this yoga style is that it frequently uses tools such as blocks and belts. In Iyengar yoga, each position is often held for a long time, and the breathing deepens the effect of each position.
Tri Yoga is a trinity of physical poses, breathing, and focus on a combination of flow and static positions. Characteristic of this type of yoga is the use of wave-like backbone movements and breathing exercises. The founder Kali Ray has created seven levels of severity and meditative content.
Sivananda yoga is a gentle form of yoga and recommends a healthy vegetarian lifestyle and positive thinking and meditation. This yoga style was founded by Swami Vishnu-devananda. A Sivananda yoga class also consists of chanting, meditation and deep relaxation.
Kundalini yoga includes physical exercise but is concentrated on breathing exercises and chanting. The purpose is to awaken the kundalini energy located at the bottom of the spine and help it to move up along the spine through the body's chakras in order to reach your head and give a strong spiritual experience. Kundalini is very powerful and should only be exercised in collaboration with an experienced teacher.