Yoga is everywhere today. While everyone thinks that they know what yoga is, it’s reality can be a bit elusive. So, Below, I’ve listed the very basic forms of the most popular styles of yoga and what to expect.
Hatha Yoga– Yoga, an ancient Sanskrit word that loosely translates as “union,” is a multifaceted system that has eight “limbs” which help the yoga practitioner lead a balanced and happy life. Some of the “limbs” relate to philosophy and ethics. When we think of Yoga today, it’s the limb of the Yoga tree named “Hatha”. Hatha describes the physical aspect of Yoga. So under the umbrella of Hatha Yoga there are particular innovations or ways to practice…the most popular are known as “Iyengar” and “Ashtanga.” When you see a Hatha yoga class on a studio schedule it usually means that it will be a yoga basics class at a beginner level.
Vinyasa– Vinyasa coordinates a series of movements (poses) with intentional breathing. Vinyasa style classes will use sun salutations and can often include a lot of movement. This is the style most popular in Los Angeles because it not only gives all of the benefits of yoga, it is also a great workout.
Ashtanga– Ashtanga yoga is a style of Vinyasa, but it is a set series of poses that don’t vary. There are six different Ashtanga yoga series. You move through the series at your own pace. The first series is 75 poses and takes about an hour and a half to complete. The second series is similar but is only available once you have mastered the first series.
Mysore– Mysore is a city in India, but is also a term used for the self-led practice of Ashtanga yoga done in the company of other students but without a teacher leading the class. You move at your own pace under the guidance of an instructor.
Power Yoga– Power yoga is one of the more popular styles of vinyasa yoga. It is essentially Ashtanga yoga except it is not a set sequence of poses.
Iyengar– Iyengar yoga is a very “alignment focused” practice. In this practice you hold poses for a longer period of time, around 5 minutes compared to the typical 30 second holds that you find in a vinyasa class. It is also very prop focused. This style of yoga encourages the use of blocks straps and blankets to assist in finding better alignment.
Bikram– Pioneered by Bikram Choudhury, this style is more generally referred to as Hot Yoga. It is practiced in a 95 to 100 degree room, which allows for a loosening of tight muscles and profuse sweating, which is thought to be cleansing. The Bikram method is a set series of 26 poses, but not all hot classes make use of this series.
Restorative– Restorative yoga is very passive. You will not get a workout in a restorative class but you will bring balance to fatigued parts of your body through this practice. It is very prop heavy, taught often with the lights low. It is a wonderful practice if you have aches, injuries and need to unwind.
Kundalini– Kundalini yoga is focused on releasing lower chakra energy through breath work and repetitive, intense movements. It often uses “breath of fire” which is a short quick belly breath to add cardio gain to the practice. Kundalini yoga kriyas are designed to purify using the breath and often last 5-10 minutes per kriya.