Styles of yoga
Hatha yoga, Iyengar, Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Naked Yoga, Ashtanga yoga, um, can I just take a yoga class? With all the different schools of yoga it can be really confusing to know what’s what. Here’s a breakdown of some of the more popular yoga styles. I’ve done all the digging and all the research to bring you the best “Yoga styles Breakdown” list on the Internet.
Hatha is what most people do when they do yoga. It is a general label that encompasses a broader style of yoga. For example, categorizing alcohol, I can say I enjoy beer. There is light beer, IPA’s, Hefeweizen, Porter, Stout, etc. but they are all under the general broader label of “beer”. In this instance, Hatha is the beer.
Hatha Yoga is practiced as static poses that flow into each other where each movement is synchronized with breath. Since the term is so general it can be hard to understand what is meant by a “Hatha class” when you see it on a schedule. Generally, hatha classes are good for all levels, they will be gentler, have a strong focus on breath and alignment, and will be practiced in a non-hot room.
Ashtanga yoga is considered “Classical” yoga in the west. Brought here by Sri Patthabi Joyce in the 1970’s, it consists of six separate series of specific poses. Each series builds upon the one before and originally one could only advance to the next series or even the next pose until the teacher deemed them ready, the theory being that doing them consistently was the way to eventually master them. Luckily you don’t have to spend an hour doing Mountain pose before your guru says you can advance anymore. Ashtanga always performs the same poses for the same amount of breaths, and a class is 90 minutes long. Ashtanga classes build heat and are physically demanding. This practice is deep and encompasses more than just the physical set of poses, or asana. It starts to delve into Bandhas- or energy locks within the body, Pranayama- breathing exercises used to manipulate energy within the body, and mantra recitation. A practice rich in tradition, many people find comfort in the routine.
Vinyasa is a word that gets thrown a lot when describing yoga. If you’ve done yoga you may have even heard your teacher say “Take a Vinyasa”. This refers to Sun Salutations that can be seen in almost every single one of these classes. Vinyasa yoga is a part of the broader, Hatha yoga and Ashtanga Yoga styles.
If you see this class advertised it usually means a fast to moderately paced flow class where breath is a constant that ties all poses together. Expect to hold poses anywhere from 1 -5 breaths depending on the pace of the class. Most Vinyasa classes focus on getting the body heated up. There is no set sequence but most poses come from the Ashtanga series.
Hopefully that helps to get you acquainted with the three big boys of yoga. Next, Iyengar, BIkram, Yin