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types of yoga practice|Iyengar Yoga|Kundalini Yoga|Ashtanga Yoga|Vinyasa Yoga|Yin Yoga|Restorative Yoga|Prenatal Yoga|Anusara Yoga|Aerial Yoga|Raja Yoga|Karma Yoga

Yoga And Meditation

Types of Yoga Practice for the Aspiring Yogi

Whether you’re an experienced yogi looking to extend your practice or an aspiring yogi looking to begin your practice, the following article is for you. Highlighted below are some of the most popular practices types of practices today and a specific overview of the benefits each type can potentially provide.

Some types of yoga include simple practices with postures, or asanas, that are more relaxing, while others can be highly demanding disciplines. In the end, it is the interest, desires, curiosity, and dedication of the practitioner, the yogi, that determines how the practice can be cultivated.

When looking for the best yoga program for you, take the slow, open-minded, and intuitive approach for best results. Some forms of yoga practice may seem especially challenging or too easy at first, but these dynamics tend to change over time. Sticking to a practice is the only way to discover all it has to offer. By the same measure, trying different practices is a great way to break out of routine and build a well-rounded yoga experience.

Hatha Yoga

The term “hatha” refers to the effort, force, or exertion characteristic of the physical aspects of several yoga practices. It is essential to understand the effort and force involved in dedicated practice before progress on the subtler aspects of aligning energies and fine-tuning breath can be made.

As such, hatha yoga makes an excellent introductory course to the fundamentals of yoga practice, such as breathing, postures, terminology, and awareness of the body in action.

The pace of this practice is also slower, and the instructions are usually more simple. If you have never practiced yoga, it doesn’t matter if you are a professional athlete or an older individual, you will feel energized, challenged and alive with hatha yoga. 1

Some of the top benefits of hatha yoga include increased balance and strength, better spinal health, reduced muscle, and mental tension, and enhanced flexibility. 2

Iyengar Yoga Iyengar Yoga

B.K.S. Iyengar founded this style of yoga with the goal of developing a well-defined discipline based on precision and applied focus. Instruction for Iyengar yoga is less focused on results as it is on the development of proper execution which leads to more gradual results.

In Iyengar yoga, students hold postures for longer periods of time and pay special attention to the breathing and the minute sensations of the body in proper form. You will also find a variety of props including ropes, cushions, and other supports are applied to make the most of each posture and ensure safety.

Because classes are slow and relaxing, this style of yoga has been recommended to those recovering from injuries and facing other health concerns. 3 , 4

Benefits of Iyengar yoga include improved breathing, better flexibility, relief from back and neck pains, and restored motility. 5

Kundalini Yoga Kundalini Yoga

Those looking to shed their old self and truly transform into someone new and improved will be thrilled by the promise of unlocking kundalini energies. The goals of kundalini yoga are to transform the mind and soul essence through the awakening of dormant energies within the chakras. The greatest transformation most practitioners attest to is the disappearance of self-imposed limitations and the increased awareness this can bring.

On the physical side, kundalini sessions build high-energy and invigorate the body. Breathing is essential, and working from the core muscle groups is a fundamental concept. Expect the spiritual content to be a bit higher in this practice than you might see in other yoga classes, including practices like mantra chanting, mindfulness, and meditation.

Benefits of kundalini yoga include improved spinal flexibility and strength, better focus, and increased mental and emotional resilience.

Ashtanga Yoga Ashtanga Yoga

Individuals who are interested in yoga but feel more inclined to a sweaty and well-regimented program of physical exercise should consider ashtanga yoga. “Ashtanga” refers to the eight limb path, a set of practices which purify and preserve the body and mind. While the set of exercises will be fairly identical from day to day, the pursuit of excellence is essential, and progress is only possible through mastery of previous postures.

In a class, postures may be held until a feeling of perfect alignment is firmly established. Because of this, ashtanga yoga is a physically demanding practice that is not suitable as an entry level style. Individuals with previous yoga experience and free from injuries will benefit the most from this practice. 6

Ashtanga yoga has been shown to promote balance in the body’s systems and muscle groups, prevent injuries, and increase emotional and mental resilience. Additionally, the practice focuses on the concept of self-healing for the mind and body and is an excellent form of physical exercise.

Vinyasa Yoga Vinyasa Yoga

The Sanskrit term “vinyasa” mean “placing” or “ordering in a special way” and refers to the specific progression through various postures typical of this style of yoga. Vinyasa has its roots in hatha yoga, and while some of the asanas are similar, the practice itself is different. In vinyasa yoga, movements are connected and synchronized with the breath.

Generally, upward movements are connected to inhalations and downward motions with exhalations. Other than that, the class dynamics, postures used, and other details of the yoga class will be determined by the studio in which you practice. Some teachers may use a single routine that has proved effective, and others like to spice up the choreography and content of the daily practice.

Vinyasa yoga has been shown to promote movement away from negative habits, build cardiovascular health and endurance, cultivate understanding and compassion for the self, and allow for better mastery of breath and motion. 7

Yin Yoga Yin Yoga

The underlying goals of yin yoga are much like those found in other yoga schools but with some important differences. Many of the asanas work to exercise and maintain the muscles of the body, these are the “yang” tissues.

At first, yin yoga can seem overly passive and even too easy. But hold judgment, as the practice is quite challenging, and students will often maintain a position for as long as 20 minutes. It should be noted that yin yoga is not a restorative practice, and any injuries should be given full time to heal before beginning this practice.

This practice boasts benefits like improved mobility in the joints and increased relaxation. 8

Restorative Yoga Restorative Yoga

When it comes to soothing and relaxing practices, nothing tops restorative yoga. Sometimes referred to as “naptime for adults,” restorative yoga uses blankets, eye pillows, foot straps, and blocks to achieve the most sublime relaxation this side of paradise.

You may even find specific studios that apply the use of aromatherapy and essential oils in relaxing the mind and body. Aromatics have played an important role in meditative and relaxing practices since the dawn of yoga and Ayurvedic tradition, and their use in a yoga studio can lead to increased relaxation during your practice.

If your studio doesn’t offer aromatherapy, try using a room diffuser with a relaxing blend of essential oils at home before you head to the studio.

Benefits of restorative yoga include a lingering feeling of well-being, heightened awareness of minute details, deep relaxation, and improved mood.

Prenatal Yoga Prenatal Yoga

You guessed it—prenatal yoga is a special selection of asanas and concepts geared toward expecting mothers in any trimester. Generally, pregnant women should be especially careful about the yoga they practice.

However, this yoga practice has been shown to be highly beneficial to pregnant women, especially for mothers planning a natural birth. The strengthening of the pelvic floor and breathing work can lead to easier deliveries and promote bonding with the unborn child.

Prenatal yoga has been shown to relieve muscle and joint tension, maintain strength and stamina, cultivate breathing, build a connection with other mothers, and promote the establishment of a connection between an expecting mother and her growing baby.

Anusara Yoga Anusara Yoga

Another yoga form that has sprung from the foundations of hatha yoga, Anusara yoga works to improve the mind-body-heart connection through the practice of specific asanas is a primary focus as this improves the capacity for good health and faster recovery.

The importance of understanding what is being accomplished is emphasized in this practice, and classes will include some verbal instruction. You can also expect classes to end in relaxation and meditation.

Anusara yoga boosts understanding of yoga practices, allows for awareness of conditions of the mind and body, promotes physical recovery, and imparts great physical and mental balance.

Aerial Yoga Aerial Yoga

Those looking for a completely new approach to yoga may be interested in the top-side-down interpretation of aerial yoga. The pull of gravity and building a strong foundation is inherent to yoga. Aerial yoga takes these concepts a step further by applying circus fabric to gently cradle the body in a number of free hanging positions.

As the body fully relaxes in the gentle suspension, the force of gravity does the work of restoring alignment and building body strength.

Aerial yoga provides the advent of relaxing and invigorating asanas, restoration of the body to its natural state of alignment, and a whole new form of increased body awareness.

Other Types of Non-Physical Yoga

Yoga as a physical exercise only represents a small fraction of the traditions and practices of yoga. In addition to the aforementioned physical yoga types, there exists a wealth of yoga traditions that address mental discipline and lifestyles.

While the benefits of these practices are both immediate and long-term, they tend to be decided by the practitioner. But some standard benefits include greater emotional stability and understanding, improved outlook, and even better cognitive function.

Raja Yoga Raja Yoga

Called the “royal yoga,” Raja yoga is considered a discipline of the mind that begins with all-encompassing self-awareness. Raja yoga brings the awareness to the self and allows the practitioner to truly be their own greatest fan and compassionate critic. Like Ashtanga yoga, raja yoga seeks to illuminate the eight limb path.

Karma Yoga Karma Yoga

Karma yoga, or the yoga of action, involves the way a person goes about their various activities each day. Simply put, working, and living without becoming attached to the results or rewards of these actions is an underlying karma yoga philosophy. Karma yoga is an important step in the process to realization as outlined in the Bhagavad Gita.


Choosing the best type of yoga practice for you has as much to do with the options available as your connection with the studio and the instructor. However, it’s important to begin your search with a full understanding of what you’re looking for and what you hope to gain from the practice.

After this, you must enter every class intuitively, paying attention to your mind and body’s reactions. Learn to recognize the difference between the discomforts that let you know you are on the path to improvement and those that indicate the class is not right for you.

The right class for you should make you include:

    • Safe Practices – Class pace and level of difficulty are right for you.

    • Competent Instructor – Supportive environment where you can benefit from feedback.

    • Feeling Good Upon Completion

Now that you know the most popular types of yoga practices available and what to look for when selecting a place to begin your practice, you can be on your way to picking a style, picking a studio, and taking the first step towards improving your quality of life through yoga.

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