What constitutes the most common types of yoga.
Yoga types differ significantly from each other, try the style that suits you best.
Originally, the Indian tradition of yoga has no division into individual styles. Especially in the West, yoga has found many forms that are extremely popular. From Ashtanga Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Kundalini Yoga to Sivananda Yoga – the range of yoga styles is almost endless. This is great because everyone can discover the yoga style that suits them. No matter whether you like it more spiritually or are looking for a sporting challenge. In this article you will get an overview of the most popular yoga styles and their peculiarities – structured according to gentle, spiritual and sporty forms.
We have divided this article into the following areas for you:
How to find the yoga style that suits you
The three classic pillars of yoga are: asanas (postures), pranayama (breathing exercises) and meditation. They are one of the basic components of every yoga class. Depending on which yoga style you try, these elements take up different amounts of space. There are very spiritual forms of yoga that focus on meditation and mantras, but there are also very challenging sporting styles that almost or completely do without meditation. And lots of mixed forms.
Our overview helps you to find the right yoga style for you. Most of the forms of yoga known in the West have developed from hatha yoga. This is why this shape is particularly suitable for beginners. But any other form of yoga is also generally suitable.
It’s best to try out a few different types of yoga. Sometimes a style differs even if you practice it with different trainers. It is therefore difficult to make a recommendation as to which yoga style suits you best. Our subdivision into “gentle yoga types”, “spiritual yoga types” and more “sporty / strenuous yoga types” can give you an orientation that you can use to think in which direction your yoga should go best. Afterwards it is time to try it out – over time you will find your favorite yoga style.
NICOLAI – UEZH expert Yoga & feel good
Gentler yoga styles
With these four types of yoga, the focus is particularly on the careful and correct execution of the asanas. The pace is rather leisurely, so ideal for beginners. If you prefer to relax while doing yoga instead of exhausting yourself, one of the following styles may be right for you.
Hatha Yoga is the ideal yoga style for beginners – no matter what age or fitness level you are in. Many of the western styles of yoga have emerged from hatha yoga. As a beginner, you learn all the elements in Hatha Yoga that are also included in other yoga styles. In Hatha Yoga, the asanas are combined in a gentle movement, with great emphasis being placed on careful execution. Yoga practice also contains challenging elements. After the physical exertion there follows a relaxation phase.
With Iyengar Yoga you spend a long time in the asanas. Proper posture is the most important thing. This type of yoga is very suitable for beginners, the elderly or people who suffer from physical limitations or illnesses.
In order to enable all yogis to perform the asanas correctly, blocks, yoga belts, pads, chairs and other yoga aids are often used in Iyengar. All people should be able to benefit from the healing effects of yoga, regardless of the physical requirements. That is the principle of Iyengar Yoga. This style is also used in yoga therapy.
Yin Yoga is a particularly mindful and slow yoga variant, which is very suitable for beginners and also for pregnant women. It is mainly practiced while sitting or lying down. By holding the individual asanas for a long time (up to five minutes), you learn to relax in the postures and let your breath flow freely.
This helps you to calm down and release both physical and emotional blockages. Unlike in most yoga styles, yin yoga deliberately addresses the deeper layers of the body such as connective tissue and fascia. In addition, greater flexibility of the muscles, ligaments and tendons is achieved. Above all, with this type of yoga the mind should come to rest.
Gentle yoga types are characterized, for example, by a calm, attentive and careful exercise.
Spiritual yoga types
These types of yoga have a special spiritual or philosophical focus. The goal is a balanced mind in a relaxed body.
Anusara means something like “following the way of the heart”. Similar to Iyengar Yoga, from which this modern yoga style emerged in 1997, great importance is attached to correct alignment. In addition, each yoga class has a philosophical focus that the teacher thinks about beforehand.
If you like that, you’re also in good hands here as a newcomer to yoga. The individual asanas are announced in detail so that it is easy to learn. The postures are taken in the dynamic flow, but the pace is rather slow, so that you can get along well as a beginner.
Meditation, mudren and mantras: these are the main elements of Kundalini Yoga. It is a very spiritual yoga style that is fundamentally different from other yoga styles in postures. A specialty is, for example, the great importance of mudren (certain hand and finger positions) that activate various energy channels in the body. The asanas are often repeated for several minutes in a so-called kriya exercise series.
A Kundalini Yoga class is usually devoted to a specific region of the body, a specific organ or energy center that is being “worked on”. There is less of a breath, so the style is also suitable for beginners and pregnant women. But you should be open to spirituality, because meditation, mantras and also breathing techniques make up a large part of this yoga practice.
Sivananda Yoga was founded by Swami Sivananda Saraswati, who trained many yogis in his ashram in Rishikesh. The asanas are still practiced today mostly in the Rishikesh series. The yoga class begins with breathing exercises (pranayama) and sun salutations, followed by a fixed sequence of 12 static postures: reverse positions, forward bending, backward bending, turns and standing positions are part of the sequence.
At the end of the yoga class there is a longer relaxation phase and meditation. At the beginning and end of the hour you sing a mantra together. With Sivananda Yoga, body and mind should come to rest. The focus is less on physical exertion than other styles. This makes this yoga style very suitable for beginners.
Sporty / strenuous yoga styles
Anyone who believes that yoga doesn’t break a sweat has never tried the following styles. They are physically challenging you. Despite the athletic approach, many of these yoga styles also have a spiritual background.
AcroYoga, which was founded in 2003, is now very popular. In the meantime, you can watch many people doing acro yoga in the world’s parks. The exercises at AcroYoga are dynamic and, as the name suggests, very acrobatic. In contrast to other yoga styles, many asanas are performed here in pairs. This promotes trust and solidarity. A difference to many other yoga styles is the playfulness that is in the foreground here.
Ashtanga Yoga is “meditation in motion”, a very challenging and dynamic type of yoga. There are a total of six series with fixed asanas that are practiced again and again. Basically, every yogi practices the series at their own breathing pace. Each posture is held for five breaths, so you can go at a very high pace. You start with the first series and only when you have mastered it perfectly can you start with the second series.
As you can see, Ashtanga Yoga is particularly suitable for people with a lot of energy who are also looking for a physical challenge in yoga. This type of yoga is less recommended for beginners. If you are very sporty, you can of course still venture out. The fixed order of the asanas in combination with the great physical exertion is guaranteed to help you to remove your worries from your thoughts.
Bikram Yoga ®
Yoga at 40 ° C room temperature and 40% humidity – that not only sounds challenging and sweaty, it is also. But that’s why many yogis love it. A sequence of 26 asanas and two breathing exercises is practiced in this dynamic style.
This yoga style requires a certain level of physical fitness, but is generally also suitable for beginners. You will feel your circulation very much in the first hour, but you usually get used to the stress very quickly and will be rewarded with more muscle strength, greater flexibility and better condition. Unfortunately, one disadvantage of this yoga style is that – unlike all other yoga styles presented – you cannot practice it at home.
A yoga class accompanied by loud music. Sounds unusual, but has a spiritual background. Jivamukti means “liberated soul” and was founded as a style in 1984 in New York by Sharon Gannon and David Life. The purpose behind it is that the loud music carries you through the hour and makes you forget how exhausting it is right now. That’s a good thing – because Jivamukti Yoga is a very dynamic and strenuous yoga style, which is strongly inspired by Ashtanga Yoga.
Despite the athletic focus, a very profound style – mantras and meditations are part of every yoga practice. Veganism is also a component of this yoga philosophy.
Vinyasa Yoga / Vinyasa Flow
Vinyasa Yoga is not often called Power Yoga for nothing: This style, which comes from Hatha Yoga, is very dynamic and powerful and therefore particularly suitable for sporty people. Meditation is mostly avoided in this style.
The asanas are practiced in a connected sequence. The individual asanas are not held for long, but you are constantly in motion. Much value is placed on the conscious interplay of movement and breath, so that you get into a dynamic “flow”.
If you are still looking for “your” yoga style, be sure to check out our overview. We present you
and sporty forms of yoga.
Of course there are many more styles than the ones mentioned – for example, more unusual forms such as aerial yoga , stand up paddle yoga or laughing yoga. It’s best to try out several styles and different yoga teachers. Finding your own yoga style is part of the trip, so to speak, and can be a lot of fun.