7 Styles of Yoga Explained
What is Yoga?
Yoga is an ancient Indian practice that can be traced back to around 3000 BCE. It was initially developed to physically and spiritually prepare for meditation.
Over time, it has evolved into a popular form of exercise that people of all ages and abilities can practice.
Yoga Beyond Asanas
History of Yoga
The history of yoga is lengthy and intricate, with roots that can be traced back to ancient India. Yoga was first mentioned in Rigveda, a collection of sacred texts from 1500 BCE.
Yoga was then developed as a philosophical system by the Indian sage Patanjali around 400 BCE. This period marked the beginning of what is known as Classical Yoga.
Classical Yoga consisted of eight limbs, or steps, that were designed to lead the practitioner to enlightenment. These were later codified in the eight Yoga Sutras (8 Limbs of Yoga), a key text in the history of yoga.
The first two limbs of traditional yoga are concerned with ethical restraints and observances. The third and fourth limbs focus on breath control and withdrawal of the senses. The fifth limb, pratyahara, is about mastering the senses.
The sixth limb, Dharana, concentrates on fixing the attention on a single point. The seventh limb, dhyana, is continuous meditation on that point. And finally, the eighth limb, Samadhi, is a state of complete absorption in the object of meditation.
Yoga began to spread beyond India in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Yoga masters from India, such as Swami Vivekananda and Yogendra, travelled to the West to share their practices with new audiences.
Yoga then became increasingly popular as an exercise, particularly in the 1970s. Since then, yoga has continued to grow in popularity, with new schools and styles constantly emerging.
Although the stretching aspect of yoga or asanas have become popular, it is only one part of yoga.
What are the 7 most popular types or styles of Yoga?
Following are some popular types of yoga styles:
1. Hatha Yoga:
Hatha Yoga is the most ancient form of Yoga that emphasizes physical and mental strength. It is also known as the fundamental basis for all yoga types. The word Hatha emerges from few Sanskrit word’s “ha” meaning “sun,” and “tha,” meaning “moon.”
Yoga is often thought of as achieving inner peace, but Hatha Yoga takes a more active approach. The ultimate goal of Hatha Yoga practice is to balance the sun and moon energies within the body, leading to a state of harmony and peace.
2. Vinyasa Yoga:
Vinyasa Yoga is a type of yoga that emphasizes flow and movement. The Sanskrit word “Vinyasa” means “a place in a special way,” and yoga refers to the linking of movement and breath.
Each yoga pose is connected to the next through breath in a Vinyasa Yoga class, creating a flowing, dynamic sequence.
Vinyasa Yoga is often considered a more active style of yoga, as it can involve a lot of movement.
However, there are many different types of Vinyasa Yoga, so it can be tailored to fit any fitness level. Vinyasa Yoga classes can vary significantly in terms of pace and intensity, so it’s essential to find a class that suits your needs.
3. Ashtanga Yoga:
Ashtanga Yoga is a form of yoga codified and popularized by Guru Jois during the 20th century. It is often publicized as a modern-day arrangement of classical Indian Yoga.
Ashtanga Yoga is a system of yoga that was brought to the modern world by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. The practice turbine physical strength, flexibility, and mental focus through various poses.
4. Iyengar Yoga:
Iyengar Yoga is a form of yoga that B.K.S developed. Iyengar. It is characterized by the use of props, such as belts and blocks, to assist in performing the Yoga Asanas (postures).
5. Yin Yoga:
Yin Yoga is a more meditative, slower-paced variant of yoga’s widespread physical and spiritual practice. Unlike the more popular and energetic yoga disciplines, which originated in India, Yin Yoga has its roots in China.
The poses in Yin yoga are held for a long time (usually three to five minutes or longer) to focus on the connective tissues (such as the ligaments) rather than the muscles. As a result, the asanas are more passive, requiring minimal muscular effort.
6. Kundalini Yoga:
Kundalini yoga is also known as “consciousness yoga.” Yogi Bajan, the founder of 3HO, introduced the practice to the West in 1969 under the name Laya yoga (Happy, Healthy, Holy Organization).
Kundalini yoga’s primary goal is to awaken the kundalini energy, which is coiled like a serpent at the base of the spine. Kundalini yoga practitioners use breathing techniques, physical postures, chanting, and meditation to unlock this energy.
7. Restorative Yoga:
Restorative yoga is a style of yoga that promotes relaxation, calmness, and healing. It is based on B.K.S. Iyengar’s yoga was intended to allow students to practice without strain or pain. This evolved into a full yoga style that was thought to be ideal for people recovering from injury, accidents or diseases.
Restorative yoga became popular in the United States in the 1970s thanks to Judith Lasater, a yoga instructor who was also an Iyengar student.
Restorative yoga is a popular choice for students healing from illness or injury, and it’s also seen to be an excellent counterbalance to today’s hurried and stressful lifestyles. There are many more types of popular yoga types like – Jivamukti Yoga, Anusara Yoga, Sivananda Yoga, Integral Yoga, etc.
If stretching, flowing or holding poses is not your thing and if you like the meditation or breathing aspects of Yoga, Yoga Nidra form of yoga can help. Especially for a deep relaxation that can be done by relaxing on a mat, blanket, chair or even bed. With this style of yoga and a 45-minute session you may feel like you slept for hours.
One good thing compared to meditation is that in Yoga Nidra, you move into a deep state of conscious awareness. Unlike meditation, you can fall into sleep and wake up feeling rested, refreshed and recovered.
“Yoga Nidra is a psychic sleep state that is completely directed by one’s own consciousness to actively awake the subconscious memories in every cell of the body “
Hot Yoga is a style of yoga that is practiced in a room heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit with a humidity of 40%.
This style was created in the 1970’s as a type of yoga designed with 26-pose sequence to specifically work every muscle, organ, and gland in the body.
The humidity and heat inside the closed room helps to loosen the muscles faster and allow for a deeper stretch.
Hot Yoga is appropriate for people of all ages and levels of fitness. The poses can be modified to suit your level of ability.
There are many more types of popular yoga types like Jivamukti Yoga, Anusara Yoga, Sivananda Yoga, Integral Yoga, Power etc.
Our Featured Teachers
“Hatha Yoga helps to balance, harmonize and detox all the 7 systems in the body, therefore promoting health, peace and wellbeing.”
Patricia D’Angelo, Yoga Instructor
5 Important Health Benefits of Yoga
Following are a few commonly known features or health benefits of a regular yoga practice. Take a look below:
1. Yoga can help improve your cardiovascular health.
2. Yoga can help improve your respiratory functioning.
3. Yoga can help reduce your stress levels.
4. Yoga can help improve your flexibility and range of motion.
5. Yoga can help improve your overall sense of well-being.
The Takeaway: Which Type of Yoga is Best for You?
There are numerous distinct yoga types, each with its unique benefits. So, how can you select the right type of yoga for you?
With so many different types of yoga out there, it can be challenging to know which one is right for you. Here are the two most significant things to consider when choosing a type of yoga:
1. Think about your fitness level: If you are new to yoga or not very physically fit, you may want to start with a gentler form of yoga.
2. Think about your body goals: For example, if you want to lose weight and gain strength, Ashtanga Yoga is best. Or, if you’re going to relax and rejuvenate, try Yin Yoga.
So, what’s your favourite type of yoga?
We would love to hear from you in the comments below.
And if you’re curious about trying a new style, be sure to check out some of the great classes offered by local studios near you.
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