For those of us who are not all too familiar with the vast variety of yoga that is available out there, selecting the type of yoga that best suits our needs can be a daunting process. With so many yoga types to choose from, it can get a bit overwhelming.
To make the selection process easier for you, here are the top 10 most demanded yoga styles that may just help in narrowing down yoga styles for you to try and to deepen your practice.
1. Ashtanga Yoga
With its name derived from the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit, Ashtanga has a literal translation of “eight limbs.” This fast paced, active and sequence-style of yoga focuses each of its movements to breaths mostly focusing to the 8 important points of the body.
The breathing technique performed with Ashtangayoga is called ujjayi which translates to “victorious breath” that consists of puraka (inhalation) and rechaka (exhalation).
Unlike many other yoga styles that are flexible in its sequences, Ashtanga requires poses to be done in a specific order without any breaks in between. The combination of poses and breathing technique in Ashtanga yoga is designed to center the mind while enhancing flexibility and strength.
Ashtanga is typically popular amongst those who are already deep into their yoga practice as it can be quite rigorous, physically demanding and requires a committed, daily practice.
2. Vinyasa Yoga
Vinyasa yoga is a series of poses that will move you through the power of inhaling and exhaling. Also a Sankrit word, Vinyasa translates to “breath-synchronized movement” due to its movements that are smoothly flowing and almost dance-like. This is why it is sometimes referred to as Vinyasa “Flow” yoga.
Derived from Hatha yoga, Vinyasa yoga differs in some important ways from its predecessor. Vinyasa yoga is often faster paced, and the assanas (postures) are linked together in a series of movements that are synchronized with the breath. Much emphasis is placed on the breath and the transition in and out of the assanas.
Though it falls under active yoga category, this particular type of yoga is suitable for both beginners and advanced yogis as one can vary his/her pace and there is not one particular sequence that one is required to follow.
3. Bikram & Hot Yoga
Founded by Bikram Choudhury, Bikram yoga was synthesized from traditional Hatha yoga techniques and was first popularized beginning in the early 1970s. It is typically practiced in rooms with blisteringtemperatures (95-105 degrees Farenheit). It takes us through a set series of 26 postures, including two pranayama(breathing) exercises, each of which is performed twice in a single 90-minute class.
Bikram yoga is widely reputed as the “original” hot yoga and today, it slowed its rise of popularity amongst yoga enthusiasts around the globe due to Bikram Choudhury’s lawsuit.
Hot yoga refers to any type of yoga done in a heated room. However, the most popular hot yoga tends to be Vinyasa Flow yoga where yogis follow a specific series of linked poses. Rooms used for hot yoga are usually maintained at a high temperature (95-105 degrees Farenheit) to promote profuse sweating and elevate the body’s temperature. The purpose of the heat is to encourage flexibility of the muscles and detoxification of the body.
Although the accuracy of this belief remains very much debatable, many believe that elevated perspiration encourages the body’s natural ability to push out toxins as a result, helping the cleansing process.
4. Hatha Yoga
Unlike the first three types of yoga on this list, Hatha yoga is a slower paced and gentler type of yoga making it the perfect type of yoga for beginners who are just starting out with their yoga practice. Often referred to and viewed as “General Yoga”, it offers an easy-to-follow introduction to yoga’s basic postures and movement. Since Hatha yoga offers a more flexible practice, you will be able to choose the pace of your session according to your own flexibility and capabilities.
5. Kundalini Yoga
If you are seeking to deepen your spirituality – body, mind and soul – through yoga, Kundalini may just be what you are looking for. With emphasis on exploration of the effects of the breath, its purpose is to enhance your mind and body awareness. Kundalini practice also seeks to free energy in the lower body to move it upwards by directing energy flow towards the poses.
This type of yoga also enables you to effectively calm your mind as the combination of meditation, breathing techniques and chanting which is included along with the poses, are focused to increase a sense of roundedness.
6. Iyengar Yoga
Founded by a renowned yoga pioneer, B.K.S Iyengar, what distinguishes Iyengar yoga from other yoga styles are its the very high degree of attention paid to the body’s alignment. Props increase awareness and make the poses accessible. Sometimes, poses are held longer (1 minute or more) than what yogis might be used to in a flow-style yoga class like Vinyasa yoga.
7. Tantra Yoga
The traditional version of Tantric yoga is usually used as a medium that enables those who practice it to widen the scope of their vision, understanding and opinion of their lives and the world that they live in.
There is also an American version of this Tantra yoga which due to its name, most would mistakenly connect it to sex and/or sexuality, however, this particular yoga style does bode well for couples as it incorporates techniques that allows them to work together in pairs and in return, fostering better communication and deeper connection.
8. Ayurveda Yoga
Created with the principles and elements of the ancient Sanskrit science of Ayurveda (“The Science or Knowledge of Life”) in mind, Ayuverda yoga seeks to help its practitioners to achieve a better mind-body connection.
It focuses upon the balancing of the three doshas, energies that make up every individual, which perform different physiological functions in the body which are: Vata Dosha, Pitta Dosha and Kapha Dosha.
While Ayurveda was developed as a treatment to treat imbalances through the use of natural remedies, Ayurveda yoga emphasizes moves that enable yogis to improve their physical as well as their mental health.
9. Yin Yoga
Yin Yoga is a practice developed by yoga teacher, Paul Grilley, to find a way to better stretch the body’s connective tissue, particularly around the joints. In other words, its moves have been specifically designed to increase circulation in the joints and improve the body’s flexibility.
Grilley developed this unique yoga style to find more comfort during meditation when he is seated for prolonged periods of time. In this style of yoga, it is typical that each pose is held for 5 minutes or longer. For experienced yogis, the practice of Yin Yoga makes a great addition to their more active yoga practices such as Bikram Yoga.
10. Restorative Yoga
Like its name suggests, Restorative yoga seeks to restore the balance of your mind, body and soul. With this particular yoga style, props are used to support the body so that yogis can hold poses for a longer time, allowing them to open their body through passive stretching. Classes are usually very relaxing which makes it a great complementary yoga style to the more active yoga practices. Its slower pace and soothing movements are likely to result in a refreshing, open feeling after the end of each session.
11. Yoga Nidra
Yoga Nidra is a sort of guided meditation. To understand what Yoga Nidra is, let’s link it to the definition of yoga. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, (written between 500 BCE and 400 CE AD), explains that the practice of yoga is to connect the body, mind, and spirit in a harmonious connection. In doing so we eliminate the disturbances of the mind and arrive at a state of Awareness called Samadhi, or Oneness. Yoga Nidra is a gentle approach to this practice, allowing the body, mind and spirit to experience full relaxation. Essentially, Yoga Nidra trains you to be less reactive and more observant of everything about yourself and your environment.
There you have it! Whether you decide to take up an active or more relaxed style or a combination of both yoga practices, you simply can’t go wrong with yoga. Whichever yoga style you choose, you are sure to reap a wealth of benefits. We hope that this list will guide you to select a yoga practice that fits both your needs and preferences.