The field of yoga is extremely vast with different schools of practice. For someone who is just starting their yoga practice, the understanding of how many different types of yoga are there is very important.
How many different types of yoga are there?
Here are the different types of yoga that are practiced.
Kundalini Yoga, also called the Yoga of Awareness, is nearest and dearest to my heart. It’s the type of yoga I began practicing with, and is still the main version I practice today.
Kundalini Yoga is named after the Kundalini, or an energy thought to lie curled like a serpent at the base of the spine. The teachings say this serpent, or energy, is “asleep” or dormant. By practicing Kundalini Yoga, this energy gradually “awakens,” expanding your awareness.
Kundalini Yoga focuses on exercising the spine and navel center in an effort to awaken the Kundalini energy stored in the spine. Breath is very important in Kundalini Yoga. Each asana should be practiced with a specific breathe sequence.
Although it can be physically challenging, Kundalini Yoga is one of the more spiritual types of yoga. In addition to the Asanas, there are specific mantras, chanting, and meditation sequences.
Although it’s been said Kundalini Yoga is over 5000 years old, almost all of what the west knows of Kundalini Yoga comes from a man named Yogi Bhajan. Bhajan brought his knowledge of Kundalini Yoga to the West in 1969 and taught until 2004.
Bhajan established 3HO (Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization) to continue the teachings of Kundalini Yoga.
Shiva Rea is known for teaching Vinyasa Yoga Flow.
Vinyasa means, “to place in a certain way,” or “breath with movement.” Vinyasa yoga is a dynamic, flowing form of yoga that focuses on the synchronization of movement and breath. The purpose of this focus is internal cleansing.
As you flow from asana to asana, you move on the inhale or the exhale. Vinyasa, or Flow Yoga, is one of the more fast-paced types of yoga. It’s also full of variation. Each teacher will have a little different “flow.” Compare this to Bikram yoga, which is always the exact same pose sequence.
Dubbed the “father of modern yoga,” Sri T. Krishnamacharya brought Vinyasa-Ashtanga yoga to the modern world. Born in 1888, Krishnamacharya had four students, one of which was named Parrabhi Jois. Jois went on to found the Ashtanga Yoga Institute where he teaches and practices Vinyasa Flow.
Hatha means willful or forceful. It also means Sun Moon, representing the opposites of masculinity/femininity, day/night, winter/summer, active/passive etc. Hatha yoga is the best known of the 6 major branches of yoga which include Tantra, Karma, Raja, Bhakti, and Jnana yoga. Several other forms of yoga on this list are branches of Hatha Yoga.
Hatha Yoga Pradipika
Hatha Yoga is generally a slower form of yoga focusing on stretching and holding poses. The poses are generally held for 15-30 seconds with conscious breathing.
Hatha Yoga can easily be traced back to at least the 15th century. The book, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, written by Svami Svatmarama, is thought to be the classical guide to yoga.
Bikhram Yoga, the most popular form of Hot Yoga, is also the most structured of all yoga forms. No matter what class you attend or teacher you have, you’ll always have the exact same routine.
Bikram Yoga is practiced in a room set at 105 degrees Fahrenheit with 40% humidity. The sequence always consists of the same 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises. The entire session runs exactly 90 minutes.
Bikram Yoga is named after it’s inventor, Bikram Choudhury in 1974. It’s been said Choudhury used this technique to heal his seriously injured knee in just six months.
This is one of the newer forms of yoga, but the following is growing quickly.
According to the official website, “Anusara yoga is a school of Hatha yoga, which unifies a life-affirming Shiva-Shakti Tantric philosophy of intrinsic goodness with Universal Principles of Alignment.”
Anusara yoga is essentially Hatha yoga with an emphasis on the Shiva-Shakti Tantric philosophy. It’s an easy-going form of yoga, making it popular with those looking for something less strenuous.
This form of yoga was developed by John Friend in 1997. It has grown exponentially in popularity, with over 1000 certified teachers.
Iyenger yoga was created keeping the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali in mind. This 196 sutra collection written by Sage Patanjali is a monumental tribute to yoga.
Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja (BKS) Iyengar was born in 1918. He studied under Sri T. Krishnamacharya, widely agreed to be the father of modern yoga.
Other Types of Yoga
- Kripalu yoga
- Ananda yoga
- Sivananda yoga
- Viniyoga yoga