styles of yoga

Nearly all styles of yoga have their roots in hatha yoga –a physical discipline that focuses on developing control of the body through asanas or poses. In Sanskrit, ha represents sun and tha represents moon. Hatha represents the duality in life — yin and yang, masculine and feminine, darkness and light. It leads the way to balancing these opposing forces. It is the yoga of physical, mental & spiritual well-being.  It allows those who practice the ancient knowledge the ability to connect with all aspects of the “human” form to create balance & inner peace. All these Yoga Styles have common roots. In fact, the founders of three major styles — Astanga, Iyengar and Viniyoga — were all students of Krishnamacharya, a famous teacher at the Yoga Institute at the MysorePalacein India. Two other styles, Integral and Sivananda, were created by disciples of the famous guru Sivananda. No style is better than the other. The Style you use is a matter of personal preference or a matter of need.

While all yoga styles seek to balance the body, mind, and spirit, they go about it in various ways. They may differ in how asanas are done and where they focus the attention (on mastering and holding the posture, on strict alignment, on breathing, on the flow of movement). Some will use props for the asanas; others will crank up the temperature in the room and go for the sweat. No style is better than another; it is simple a matter of personal preference. Find a teacher that you can relate to and a style that furthers your own personal growth.

Ananda Yoga
Ananda Yoga is a classical style of Hatha Yoga that uses Asana and Pranayama to awaken, experience, and begin to control the subtle energies within oneself, especially the energies of the Chakras. Its object is to use those energies to harmonize body, mind, and emotions, and above all to attune oneself with higher levels of awareness. One unique feature of this system is the use of silent affirmations while in the Asanas as a means of working more directly and consciously with the subtle energies to achieve this attunement. Ananda Yoga is a relatively gentle, inward experience not an athletic or aerobic practice. It was developed by Swami Kriyananda, a direct disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda, author of the spiritual classic, Autobiography of a Yogi.

Anusara Yoga
Founded by John Friend in 1997, Anusara Yoga® is a powerful hatha yoga system that unifies a Tantric philosophy of intrinsic Goodness with Universal Principles of AlignmentT. Anusara embodies an uplifting philosophy, epitomized by a “celebration of the heart,” that looks for the good in all people and all things. Consequently, students of all levels of ability and yoga experience are honored for their unique differences, limitations, and talents. This life-affirming vision sets the basis for a yoga system in which the harmony and joy of a tightly knit community is exulted. Not only is Anusara an elegant system of alignment principles and non-dual philosophy, but it is also a community of highly trained teachers and fun-loving students.

Ashtanga Yoga
For those who want a serious workout, Ashtanga may be the perfect Yoga. Developed by K. Pattabhi Jois, Ashtanga is physically demanding. Participants move through a series of flows, jumping from one posture to another in order to build strength, flexibility and stamina. It is not for Beginners or anyone who’s been taking a leisurely approach to fitness. AshtangaYoga Practice involves performing challenging sequence of poses with Ujjayi Breathingand vinyasas (a flow of postures). This Yoga Style uses a system based on six series of increasing difficulty. Ashtanga Yoga practice will help you achieve increased strength, flexibility and stamina. The so-called Power Yoga is based on Ashtanga.

Bikram Yoga
Bikram Yoga is named after its founder – Bikram Choudhury, who studied Yoga with Bishnu Ghosh, brother of Paramahansa Yogananda. Bikram Choudhury’s Yoga is practiced in a room with a temperature of up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, thus be prepared to sweat a lot. Bikram Yoga enthusiasts crank the thermostat to high temperature then perform a series of 26 Asanas. Each posture is usually performed twice and held for a certain period of time. TheirYoga Sessions start from Standing Postures, then the Backbends, Forward Bends, and Twists. The poses are accompanied by Kapalabhati Breath or the “breath of fire”.

Bikram Yoga is designed to “scientifically” warm and stretch muscles, ligaments and tendons in the order in which they should be stretched. Practice of this Style of Yoga promotes the cleansing of the body, release of toxins and utmost flexibility Bikram Yoga may be practiced by people who are already in good shape and even those who are suffering from any chronic ailment, however, you should ask for your physician’s advice before getting involve into any exercise activity.

Integral Yoga
Integral Yoga puts equal emphasis on the Pranayama (Breathing Control), on Meditation, and on the Asanas (Physical Poses). This Style of Yoga was developed by Swami Satchidananda, the man who introduced chanting to the crowd of the original Woodstock. Integral Yoga is also used for therapeutic purposes; in fact, Dr. Dean Ornish who is Swami Satchidananda’s student, used Integral Yoga in his groundbreaking work on curing Heart Disease.

The practice of Integral Yoga revolves around eight main goals: 1. Physical Health and strength; 2. control over all senses; 3. clear, calm and well-disciplined mind; 4. higher level of intellect; 5. strong and pliable will; 6. love and compassion; 7. purer ego, and; 8. ultimate peace and joy.

Iyengar Yoga
Iyengar Yoga was named after B.K.S. Iyengar who is one of the best-known Yoga teachers and who is also the creator of the most popular Styles of Yoga in the world. Iyengar’s style is noted for great attention to detail and precise alignment of postures, he also popularized the use of Yoga Props such as blocks and belts. This great attention to detail, posture, and alignment has also become the notable characteristics of Iyengar Yoga.

The Yoga Poses are held longer and repeated several times, only when one achieved a certain level of mastery of these poses can he move to Pranayama. The props helps Iyengar Yogis to achieve the best possible pose, it also provide support and minimizes the risk of getting injured. One of the most popular pose in Iyengar Yoga is the Tadasana or the Mountain Pose. Part of Iyengar’s success may be attributed to the quality of teachers who must complete a rigorous 2-5 year training program for certification.

Kali Ray TriYoga
Kali Ray Triyoga was founded by Kali Ray. This Style of Yoga brings Posture, Breath, and Focus together to create dynamic and intuitive flows. The Tri Yoga exercises combine flowing and sustained postures following a spinal wavelike movement, economy of motion, and synchronized breath and mudra. The flows are arranged by level and can be as gentle or as challenging as desired. Students may progress from basic to advance as they increase their flexibility, strength, endurance and knowledge of the flows.

Kripalu Yoga is also called the Yoga of consciousness. Kripalu puts great emphasis on Proper Breath, alignment, coordination of breath and movement, and “honoring the wisdom of the body” — you work according to the limits of your individual flexibility and strength. Alignment follows awareness. Students learn to focus on the physical and psychological reactions caused by various postures to develop their awareness of mind, body, emotion and spirit. There are three stages in Kripalu Yoga. Stage One focuses on learning the postures, proper breathing, and exploring your body’s abilities. Stage Two involves holding the postures for an extended time, developing concentration and awareness of your thoughts and emotions. Stage Three is like Meditation in motion in which the movement from one posture to another arises unconsciously and spontaneously while you are in a meditative state.
For more information see:

Kundalini Yoga was brought to the West by Yogi Bhajan in 1969. It focuses on the controlled release of the Kundalini (serpent power) energy which is found at the base of your spine. The practice of Kundalini Yoga involves classic poses, chanting, coordination of breath and movement and Meditation. The emphasis however, is not on the Yoga Poses but on the Chanting and Breathing. Kundalini Yoga rewards Yogis with spiritual transformation and unity consciousness.

Sivananda Yoga was developed by Vishnu-devananda who wrote one of the contemporary Yoga classics, “The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga”. His book was first published in 1960, and still one of the best introductions to Yoga available. He named Sivananda Yoga after his teacher, Swami Sivananda who is also one of the greatest Yoga gurus in the world.

This Style of Yoga focuses on the Pranayama, classic Asanas, and Relaxation. It also centers on Diet and positive thinking and Meditation. Sivananda Yoga practice consist twelve basic Yoga Poses that seeks to increase strength, flexibility, Proper Breathing, and Meditation. Sivananda now has over eighty centers worldwide and is considered as one of the largest Yoga schools in the world.

Svaroopa Yoga
This Yoga Style was developed by Rama Berch. Svaroopa Yoga teaches significantly different ways of doing familiar Poses, emphasizing the opening of the Spineby beginning at the tailbone and progressing through each spinal area in turn. Every pose incorporates principles of Asana, anatomy and Yoga philosophy. It also emphasizes the development of transcendent inner experience, which is called Svaroopa by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutra. This is a consciousness-oriented Yoga that also promotes healing and transformation. Svaroopa Yoga is not an athletic endeavor, but a development of consciousness using the body as a tool.

Viniyoga or what is also known as the Yoga for Wellness rooted from the principle practiced by Sri. T. Krishnamacharya – that is to develop practices for individual conditions and purposes. Sri. T. Krishnamacharya is the teacher of well-known contemporary masters B.K.S. Iyengar, K. Pattabhi Jois and Indra Devi. His son, T.K.V. Desikachar, continued this principle and developed the practice of Viniyoga.

Viniyoga make use of modified Yoga Poses that are designed to meet the specific needs of an individual and to enhance healing, flexibility and strength of joints. Viniyoga poses also intend to promote the feeling of well-being and strength. Practices may also include Pranayama, Meditation, reflection, study and other classic elements, but the emphasis of Viniyoga practice is on coordinating breath and movement. Personal practices are taught privately.

Jivamukti Yoga
The Jivamukti Yoga method is a Style of Yoga created by David Life and Sharon Gannon in 1984. It is a vigorously physical and intellectually stimulating practice leading to spiritual awareness. They promote the educational aspect of the practice and give students access to where these ideas came from. Each class focuses on a theme, which is supported by Sanskrit Chanting, readings, references to scriptural texts, music (from the Beatles to Moby), spoken word, Asana sequencing and Yogic Breathing practices. The average Jivamukti student is more educated about the philosophy of Yoga than most Yoga teachers.

This article was contributed by:

Bharata Yoga
Bharata Yoga stands for precision in alignment. The founder and director of the institute, Gert van Leeuwen, developed a technique called Critical Alignment in which the mobility of the spine is the most significant feature.

Critical alignment makes a distinct difference between the use of postural muscles at the surface of our body and movement muscles which are situated close to the spine and joints. When we stabilise our posture through our postural muscles, we do not build up tension but when we, on the contrary, build up our stability through our movement muscles, the body becomes stiff in muscles and joints.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: