What are the different types of yoga?

There are many different types and methods of yoga. The YogaWorks method takes some inspiration from Ashtanga yoga and some from Iyengar yoga, integrating both into our own paradigm—a balance of precision and flow. Our programs emphasize students' personal practice as the source for their creative teaching. To deepen their education, trainees in the YogaWorks Teacher Training will study anatomy and physiology, explore yoga’s philosophical underpinnings, practice meditation and pranayama, and investigate the subtle body and the science of Ayurveda.

Here are some different types of contemporary yoga styles:

  • Ananda: Emphasizes meditation through breath awareness, affirmations and yoga postures.
  • Anusara: Means "following your heart" and respects each student's abilities and limitations. Integrates the celebration of the heart, principles of alignment and balanced energetic actions.
  • Ashtanga (power yoga): Fast-paced, physically demanding series of postures designed to create heat and energy flow.
  • Bikram (hot yoga): Consists of a series of 26 postures and two breathing exercises performed vigorously in a studio heated to 105 degrees with 40% humidity.
  • Forrest: Intense long-held poses designed to develop skills in awakening the senses. Uses heat, deep breathing and vigorous sequences to sweat out toxins, while also focusing on strengthening and centering your core.
  • Integral: Focuses on the healing power of relaxation. Emphasizes control of breath and meditation almost as much as the postures.
  • Iyengar: Uses props such as straps and blankets to achieve postures that focus on symmetry and alignment. Poses are usually held longer than in most other yoga styles.
  • Jivamukti: Uses vigorous poses in a flowing series while incorporating a variety of ancient and modern spiritual teachings. May include chanting, meditation, readings, music and affirmations.
  • Kripalu: Emphasizes proper breath, alignment, coordinating breath and movement and honoring the body's wisdom.
  • Kundalini: Designed to awaken kundalini energy, which is stored at the base of the spine and is often depicted as a coiled snake. The emphasis is on chanting and breathing rather than postures.
  • Sivananda: Takes a gentle approach that includes postures, chanting, meditation and deep relaxation in each session. Students are encouraged to lead a healthy lifestyle, including a vegetarian diet.
  • TriYoga: A systematic flowing yoga with an emphasis on the wave-like movement through the spine and on maintaining alignment through meditative transitions.
  • Viniyoga: A gentle flowing form of yoga that emphasizes coordinating breath with movement. Often used with beginners and in therapeutic settings.
  • Vinyasa: A general term referring to many styles of yoga that use a series of flowing postures combined with rhythmic breathing for an intense body-mind workout. It doesn't adhere to a specific sequence of poses, but is usually based on a series of postures that together are known as sun salutations.

Yoga encompasses physical, spiritual, and meditative practices, all of which fall under the umbrella term yoga. Some common forms of yoga include Hatha yoga which focuses on breathing and easy to perform poses, Iyengar which focuses on flowing from one pose to another, Bikram which is a very specific sequence of poses performed in a heated room, restorative yoga which uses very gentle poses and lots of breathing designed to restore the body to full energy and rest, and ashtanga or “power” yoga which focuses on very challenging poses. Which form of yoga is best for you depends on your current goals, needs and abilities. Try several different forms of yoga with several different studios and instructors until you find the form that is best for you.

Continue Learning about Yoga

Practicing Yoga to Enjoy a Perfect You
Practicing Yoga to Enjoy a Perfect You
Photo Credit: Leo Prieto, via Flickr Creative Commons Imagine if you started your yoga practice with the idea that you don’t need fixing; that you ar...
Read More
If I’m new to yoga, why should I start with a beginner class?
In yoga, as with any activity, it is good to start with the foundations and build up, so that you ca...
More Answers
7 Best Yoga Poses for Stress Relief
7 Best Yoga Poses for Stress Relief7 Best Yoga Poses for Stress Relief7 Best Yoga Poses for Stress Relief7 Best Yoga Poses for Stress Relief
Relax and breathe easier with these calming yoga postures.
Start Slideshow
Try Yoga for Better Health
Try Yoga for Better Health

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.