Yoga is the journey of the self, to the self, through the self. It is about pure connection; connecting to your heart, soul, and the divine.
Here are 10 different types of yoga to try out and to implement in your daily life.
Hatha yoga is the science of using the physical body to hasten your evolutionary process. Hatha yoga is not exercise, even though when practiced many benefits are received. A healthy and fit being are two of the side-benefits. Classical Hatha Yoga is a powerful practice designed to prepare the system for a “cosmic download or awakening” and promotes the journey of exploring your fullest potential. The word “hatha” can be defined in two ways: “willful” or “forceful”, the yoga of activity. Or it can be defined as the “sun” (ha) and “moon” (tha), the yoga of balance. Hatha yoga is designed to align the body, mind, and spirit in preparation for deep meditation. Hatha yoga is a basic term that refers to any type of yoga sequence that teaches physical asanas (postures). Most yoga classes taught in the West are based on hatha yoga. When a class is marketed as hatha, it means that you will practice basic yoga postures and connect to your breath.
Bhakti yoga is one of six systems of yoga revered throughout history as paths that can lead you to full awareness of your true nature. It has been defined as a practice of devotion toward God, solely motivated by the sincere, loving desire to please God, rather than the hope of divine reward or the fear of divine punishment. Bhakti Yoga emphasizes on the importance of channeling unconditional pure love to God. Bhakti Yogis believe that God is inside of each person. Bhakti yoga is often considered to be the easiest way for ordinary people to attain a spiritually liberated and peaceful state of mind. This is because the practice is not as rigorous as most other yoga practices and it is more accessible for people to practice bhakti yoga without needing to become a full-time yoga practitioner. When prating Bhakti Yoga, you not only practice you yoga on the mat, but most importantly off the mat. You see everything outside of yourself as a light of God and you respect all of these things with unconditional love.
There are two different stories that Bhakti Yoga originated from:
- An early and extreme example of a bhakti yogi comes from the 12th century, when a 10-year-old girl named Akka Mahadevi shunned childhood games and instead became a devotee of Shiva, the Hindu deity known as the aspect of destructive forces. Mahadevi eventually married a local king. But she found that her overwhelming love for Shiva overshadowed mortal love. She rejected her husband and ran away. According to legend, she gave up all of the riches of the kingdom, leaving even her clothes behind, and used her long hair to cover her body. For the rest of her life, Mahadevi devoted herself to Shiva, singing his praises as she traveled blissfully around India as a wandering poet and saint.
- Akka Mahadevi is part of the rich tradition of bhakti yoga, which, historically, is seen as a reaction to a more ascetic approach to self-realization. Five thousand years ago, yoga represented a spirit of struggle, a solitary pursuit of overcoming the body and mind. In his quest for enlightenment, the archetypal yogi gave up clothes in favor of a loincloth, shunned material possessions, and paid little heed to the body’s desire for food and sex. By renouncing all worldly pleasures, he sought to quiet his mind and know the Self. Bhakti Yoga is practiced by the mind, body, heart, and spirit.
Vinyasa / Power Yoga
The purpose of vinyasa yoga is for internal cleansing.
Vinyasa or power yoga incorporates strength, flexibility, balance, cardio and physical and mental stamina in throughout one yoga practice. Vinyasa Yoga is often said to be “the perfect blend of sweat and serenity.” Vinyasa means, “flow”, so Vinyasa flow is breath to movement. For every movement, there is a synchronized breath. Synchronizing the breath to movement in the asanas warms up the blood, cleaning and thinning it so that it can circulate throughout the body more freely. Improved blood circulation removes toxins and disease while also helping relieve any joint pain. The sweat generated from the heat inside the body then carries the impurities out of the body. A Healthy and fit physical body is another great benefit of Vinyasa / Power Yoga. Through the practice of vinyasa Yoga, the body and mind become healthy, light and strong.
Vinyasa flow incorporates interval and cross-training exercises to challenge both the aerobic and anaerobic systems of the body. Power Vinyasa yoga incorporates regular sequences that become familiar to students, but incorporates variations to modify, intensify, or challenge the physical body by altering the pace or duration of poses, and the frequency that they are repeated. Power Yoga takes the athleticism of Ashtanga, including lots of vinyasas, but gives each teacher the flexibility to teach any poses in any order, making every class unique and special. Power Yoga emphasizes on strength and flexibility. It has grown very popular over the last ten years and many practitioners see Vinyasa / Power yoga as a way to work out the physical and mental body.
Iyengar yoga was developed by B.K.S. Iyengar (pronounced “eye-yen-gar”). Iyengar is a very diligant style of yoga, with lots of care in finding the proper alignment in a pose. In order to help each student find the proper alignment, Iyengar teachers use a wide variety of yoga props — blocks, blankets, straps, chairs, and bolsters to assist the students in their postures. Iyengar classes are slow paced but they are physically and mentally challenging. A form of Hatha Yoga is incorporated by having an emphasis on detail, precision and alignment in the performance of posture (asana) and breath control (pranayama). This practice of yoga is designed to systematically cultivate strength, flexibility, stability, and awareness, and can be therapeutic for specific conditions.
Ashtanga yoga is a vigorous and flowing style of yoga that was developed in the 20th century. It involves synchronizing breath with progressive and flowing postures, which produces internal heat while detoxifying the body. Through the practice strength is built, flexibility is gained, and stamina is worked on, and mind is calmed. This practice supports overall health. The Ashtanga is based on six levels of practice sequences that increase in difficulty. These levels are called Primary Series, Secondary Series, and Advanced Series A, B, C, and D. Each series is comprised of a series of postures that are always performed in the same order. The sequences are fast-paced and physically demanding. The Ashtanga yoga practice developed by guru Tirumali Krishnamacharya. Krishnamacharya spent his early years studying various forms of yoga. The Maharaja of Mysore, India hired Krishnamacharya in 1924 to open a yoga school and teach Ashtanga yoga to the royal family. When Krishnamacharya started teaching, his students consisted of young boys, for whom he developed this vigorous style of yoga. This style of yoga was meant to build strength, stamina, and challenge the young boys.
Three main components distinguish Ashtanga Yoga:
- “Vinyasa”- “breath to movement”
- “Bandha” – “muscular lock”
- “Dristhi” – “focal point”
By incorporating these three components into your yoga practice, you are basically practicing certain part of Ashtanga.
Bikram Yoga is a type of heated yoga consisting of 26 set postures and two breathing exercises. This practiced is designed by Bikram Choudhury synthesized from a traditional Hatha Yoga practice. This practice became popular in the beginning of the early 1970s. Bikram Yoga is heated yoga practice, and is ideally practiced in a room heated to 40 °C (104 °F) with a humidity of 40%. Bikram Yoga’s twenty-six postures are designed to exercise the entire being. Cleansing the entire body from the heat while sending fresh, oxygenated blood to one hundred percent of the body, to each organ and fiber, restoring all systems to healthy working order. A physical healthy body is a huge benefit from this practice. Healthy weight, muscle tone, vibrant good health, and a sense of well being will automatically come as you practice this practice more often.
Hot Yoga has become extremely popular over the past five years. Hot Yoga is practicing yoga asanas (postures) in heated and humid conditions. The idea of the heat and humidity originated in India. In colder climates, Hot Yoga seeks to replicate the heat and humidity of southern India from where many styles of yoga originate by adding heaters and humidifiers. Various styles of yoga have added the elements of heat and humidity to increase an individual’s flexibility and deepen the practice. Doing yoga in a heated room is similar to sitting in a sauna. Heated environments increase your pulse rate and metabolism while allowing your blood vessels to become more flexible. That makes circulation easier and increases blood flow to the limbs.
A heated yoga practice also helps the body burn anywhere from 500 to 1,000 calories in a one hour class. When you are practicing yoga in a heated room, you learn to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. During a heated yoga class, there are times when you may feel over heated or just tired, but if you can push through and connect to your breath you will realize that you are stronger than you think. You will also notice how powerful your thoughts are, and that if you can control your breath, you can control your mind. There are many amazing benefits that hot yoga offers. It cleanses both the mind and body, releases toxins, impurities, and develops muscle tone. It also boots the immune system and aids in relieving stress and anxiety. Lastly, Hot Yoga reduces the symptoms of certain chronic illnesses, such as thyroid disorders, depression, arthritis and circulatory problems. Hot Yoga is a transformational work-in while being a challenging work-out.
Kundalini yoga is an uplifting blend of spiritual and physical practices. Kundalini Yoga incorporates movement, dynamic breathing techniques, meditation, and chanting. The goal of the Kundalini yoga practice is to build physical vitality, awaken the spirit, and increase consciousness. It promotes awareness within each individual and helps cultivate inner stillness. It also helps potential energy rise to kinetic energy
“Kundalini” is an ancient Sanskrit word that means “coiled snake.” In early Eastern religion (long before Buddhism and Hinduism) it was believed that every individual possessed a divine energy at the base of their spine. This energy was known to be the sacred energy of creation. This energy is something we are born with, but we must make an attempt to “uncoil the snake,” as a result, we come in direct contact with the divine.
Kundalini Yoga is the science to unite the finite with Infinity.”
– Yogi Bhajan –
May the long time sun
Shine upon you,
All love surround you,
And the pure light within you
Guide your way on.”
– Kundalini Yoga farewell blessing –
Yin yoga works on the deep connective tissues of the body (vs. the superficial tissues) and the fascia that covers the body. This practice of yoga is to help regulate the flow of energy in the physical body. Yin yoga postures are more passive and relaxing postures, help for two to ten minuted, mainly on the floor. Yin Yoga is unique because you are asked to relax into the posture as you hold it, softening the muscles and moving closer to the bones.The time that is spent in these postures is much like the moments spent during meditation. You have a beautiful opportunity to stay present, find with your breath, and to breathe into the posture as the posture opens the body; creating more space.Yin yoga enlightens you to really listen and to stay present. You don’t get the chance to go in and out of the pose or to jump around. You must find stillness within your practice. Yin yoga is such a great compliment to other styles of yoga and a wonderful compliment to your own personal life, because it brings allows you to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. It helps you accept and surrender to the present moment, and that is something we can all benefit from daily.