Yoga styles

Learn about the 10 major styles of yoga

New to yoga? Then, understanding the different types of yoga offered at your yoga studio can be like learning a different language.

Hatha? Vinyasa? Yin? Restorative? Even if most styles of yoga are based on the same basic yoga poses, the experience of one style can be radically different than another.

To make it easier for you to know where to begin, here are some of the most common and popular types of yoga in ashrams, gyms and fitness centers around the globe.

1. Hatha yoga

Hatha is a general category that includes most modern yoga styles. A hatha yoga class typically includes the practice of asanas (yoga postures) and pranayama (breathing exercises), preparing the body for deeper spiritual practices such as meditation.

Today, hatha yoga usually refers to a more relaxed style where the poses are held longer.

2. Vinyasa

Vinyasa is a dynamic style of yoga that is sometimes seen as a moving meditation. Each movement is linked to the breath in a flowing sequence that includes several sun salutations.

Vinyasa yoga is also commonly referred to as flow yoga.

3. Ashtanga

Based on ancient yoga teachings, Ashtanga yoga was brought to the modern world by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in the 1970s. Today, it is one of the more popular styles of yoga in the west.

Ashtanga yoga is a physically demanding practice that synchronizes breath and movement through specific asana series (there are 5 of them). Each series includes sun salutations, standing poses, inversions and seated poses.

4. Iyengar

Developed by B.K.S. Iyengar, Iyengar yoga is all about alignment. Instead of flowing from posture to posture, the teacher invites his students to deep dive into the details of each yoga posture using props like blocks, straps, blankets, chairs, and even a ropes wall to understand structure and alignment. As a result, asanas are held much longer than in other schools of yoga.

Iyengar yoga is great for people with medical issues as well as beginners who want to learn how to move into a posture properly.

5. Bikram

Bikram yoga is very structured as every class takes the students through a 26-pose sequence and two breathing exercises, both specifically created by Bikram Choudhury. The classes take place in heated and humid rooms (around 40°C and 40% humidity), making the whole practice challenging both physically and mentally.

If you want to sweat and flush toxins, this can be your style!

6. Anusara

Founded by John Friend in 1997, Anusara yoga is a modern style of hatha yoga based on a Tantric philosophy and universal principles of alignment.

An Anusara class usually combines a vinyasa flow style with holding some poses for a longer time.

7. Jivamukti

Jivamukti yoga was created by David Life and Sharon Gannon in 1984 as “a path to enlightenment through compassion for all being”.

The five main tenets of the Jivamukti method are : shastra (scripture), bhakti (devotion), ahimsā (nonviolence, non-harming), nāda (music), and dhyana (meditation).

The physical practice is very much like a vinyasa-style flow class but Jivamukti also incorporates chanting, meditation, readings and affirmations.

8. Yin yoga

Yin yoga is a slow-paced style in which seated and supine poses are held for three, five minutes or longer. It targets the deep connective tissues of the body and the fascia that covers the body and help regulate the flow of energy in the body.

It is a great complementary practice to the more dynamic and invigorating yoga styles like vinyasa or ashtanga.

9. Kundalini

The primary aim of Kundalini yoga is to awaken the kundalini energy, which lies at the base of the spine. To do that, this practice incorporates movement, dynamic breathing techniques, meditation, and the chanting of mantras.

Kundalini yoga is a synthesis of many traditions and it is said to be one of the most spiritual styles of yoga.

10. Restorative yoga

Restorative is a passive style of yoga that uses different props (blankets, blocks, bolsters…) so the body can experience the benefits of a pose without having to exert any effort, making it easier to completely leg go.

It’s great for people who need to slow down and stretch and it complements perfectly all the other more dynamic practises.

At yoga weeks, we mainly offer vinyasa yoga classes but all our teachers are trained in some of those specific styles of yoga and like to incorpore some of these elements to the practice.