There are actually 8 main types and whilst they have similarities, there are some differences.
I recall when I first heard of yoga and assumed there was only one type – How wrong was I. So, I did some research. I was surprised to find that there are so many different styles and this number is growing slowly as gurus look to return to more classic practice but sometimes with a modern twist.
Depending in what you are trying to achieve, there is likely a yoga type that will suit you and help with what you are trying to achieve, be that in injury or from the health-related benefits well documented from regular yoga practice.
Read on for the 8 types that I came across and how the different types are performed and why.
Or synchronised breath with movement, is taught in most gyms and involves fluid movement that can be memorised like a dance often to music. It is referred to as flow Yoga as you move through the sequence in a flowing manner.
Is a traditional Indian yoga style. The word ashtanga translates to 8 limbs as it encompasses the eight stages/limbs of yoga, Yama, Niyama, Asana etc. With the final eighth limb being enlightenment. The Asanas, or poses, are practised in the exact same way starting with the sun salutation, A or B to warm up, moving to a standing sequence and finally to a closing sequence. This type of yoga is practised in silence.
Is the most widely practised form of yoga today. Similar to Ashtanga, it is usually practised in silence and could incorporate props, such as bolsters or blocks. Its name was devised from the renowned guru B.K.S Iyengar, who popularised it in the West. This type of yoga is practised at a slower pace and allows more time to get into the poses.
Is often referred to as hot yoga as you practice in a balmy 95 to 105 Fahrenheit room with 40% humidity. It is named after its founder Yogirar Bikram Choudry and it consists of two breathing exercises and 26 poses completed over 90 minutes without music. You do, however, have mirrors to check your poses and alignment. This type of yoga is only taught by certified instructors.
Is a hybrid devised by David life and Sharon Gannon and translates as liberated soul. It involves chanting and a vigourous style of movement which is themed for each lesson, along with breathing exercises. It is a highly physical style which merges the spiritual and physical to form a more modern style.
Is a faster paced yoga with Ashtanga poses held for only about five breaths. It is definitely more athletic and involves core body work to build strength and endurance. This style is usually upbeat and practice to music and depending on the studio style and teacher, it can vary from lesson to lesson.
Is based on five core principles with the strong focus on health – breathing, relaxing, diet, exercise and positivity/meditation. There are 12 basic poses completed without music. The aim is to reduce disease by maintaining a healthy body throughout your life.
Yin yoga is slower paced and involves holding poses for a much longer time, around 5 minutes or so, with the aim of lengthening the connective-tissue. Often called Taoist Yoga this style is more meditative and spiritual in nature. The poses are slightly different to the more active yoga poses and may have different names. Whilst there is typically no music during the lesson, some props may be used to assist you.
So which is best?
All of the types of yoga above have great health benefits and will, with time, improve your flexibility and posture. Don’t worry if you are new to yoga. You may not be able to touch your toes just yet but with regular practice, you will get there.
Nobody starts yoga being everything that they want straight away. For you, it could be that your struggling with flexibility but for others it may be the focus and meditation that entices them. We can all help each other and learn from one another.
So, there you have it, the eight styles of yoga that I have come across.
How do you choose the type for you?
Well firstly, try to find the styles available in your area and simply give them ago. You may love the more upbeat lessons or thrive on the heat and warmth of hot yoga it is really a personal preference and dictated by what you were trying to achieve in your practice.
Make sure to stay hydrated and have fun. I wrote a blog some time ago about staying hydrated. Just to summarise a salient point, you can only absorb around 1 pint per hour. If you are taking part in Hot Yoga, please bear in mind that you will sweat so take care of yourself. It is not a competition and you should never judge yourself a failure for not progressing as quickly as you hoped. As the age old saying goes, ‘practice makes perfect’ and with yoga, the more you practice, the better you will feel.
You will never hear somebody complain that they wasted their time in a yoga class and your future self will thank you for it.
Remember, everybody is on their own journey. Let’s see where your journey takes you.