styles of yoga 101

There’s an endless amount of different styles of yoga to discover & dabble in! Here is a breakdown of some well-known styles, but by no means is an exhaustive list….

anusara: heart-opening!

Anusara (a-nu-sar-a), means “flowing with Grace,” “flowing with Nature,” “following your heart.” Anusara is a heart oriented, spiritually inspiring, & yet grounded in the Universal Principles of Alignment for both the inner & outer body. It is a uniquely integrated style of hatha yoga in which the artistic glory of the human heart blends with the scientific principles of biomechanics. – John Friend, Founder of Anusara Yoga. The focus is on opening the heart on a physical and mental level using Tantric based philosophy and a strong emphasis on physical alignment,

ashtanga: invigorating!

Ashtanga, which means “eight limbs” in Sanskrit, is a fast-paced, intense style of yoga. A series of 6 postures is performed. It’s considered to be the foundation of much of the yoga we see today in the west, namely, vinyasa/flow & power.

bikram: consistent & sweaty!

Bikram yoga consists of 26 postures and breathing exercises. In this 90 min class, there is a set & specific order to the poses; each posture is done twice, the first time held for 1 min & the 2nd set held for 30 sec. It is practiced in room heated to about 95 -100 degrees. The heat is though to allow more flexibility to tight muscles and the profuse sweating it invokes is believed to be detoxifying. Each teacher has been trained to never deviate from the postures, dialogue, or sequence so you can expect consistency in every class you attend.

hatha: slow & basic!

Traditional Hatha yoga is a holistic path that includes disciplines, physical postures (asana), purification procedures, breathing (pranayama), and meditation. Hatha practiced in the West usually focuses on physical postures. Hatha classes tend to be gentle & basic, making them a great place for beginners to start.

hot: turn up the heat!

Hot yoga classes simply add the element of heat. The heat is though to help increase range of motion & aid in the detoxifying process. Virtually any style of yoga can be done in a heated room. What sets them apart from Bikram is that these classes don’t necessarily have “set” sequences.

iyengar: alignment!

Tthis style of yoga heavily emphasizes bodily alignment. Attention to the precise position of each pose is believed to maximize its benefits and avoid injury. During an Iyengar class you can expect to hold poses over long periods of time in order to continue fto tune in on the alignment of a pose. Iyengar practice also encourages the use of props (yoga blankets, blocks, straps, bolsters, etc) in order to bring and maintain the body in proper alignment. Great style to learn the intricacies of each posture.

kundalini: awaken your energy!

The basis of this style is to use breath & movement to freely move the energy in the lower chakras (energetic centers in the body) upwards towards the higher chakras. It is thought that ” kundalini energy” is coiled at the base of the spine; in this practice you will focus on awakening this energy to benefit all the other chakras, as well as detox the body and mind.

power: constant movement!

Based on the flowing style of Ashtanga, but doesn’t necessarily stay strictly set to the Ashtanga series of poses. It is sometimes done in a heated room and focuses on the breath as fuel for the practice. Similar, if not synonymous, with vinyasa/flow.

restorative: open up!

This classes uses props (blocks, bolsters, blankets, straps, etc) for a prolonged hold of supported postures. Restorative postures are usually done laying down or seated yoga poses to eliminate unnecessary straining. This style allows you to focus on the opening of the physical, mental, & emotional body.

vinyasa/flow: connect movement to breath!

Vinyasa/flow yoga finds it’s foundation in Ashtanga yoga. Sequences focus on connecting each movement with pranayama (breath). Most classes tend to be fast paced as they flow from one pose to the next. A great challenge! Similar, if not synonymous, with power yoga.

yin: train for stillness!

In Yin yoga positions are held for several minutes in order to release tension & also focuses on strengthening the muscles needed to sit up with proper posture. This style specifically addresses the stillness, flexibility, & strength required for prolonged sitting during meditation.