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Yoga. Yoga. Yoga. Yoga everywhere

a guide to the different styles of yoga

According to a national survey conducted in 2012, the number of American adults practicing yoga has doubled over the last decade to 21 million. Over the same period of time, the number of studios opening and classes available has also increased markedly. While it is great Americans have more access to yoga, the overwhelming variety of classes offered can make choosing the right class for the aspiring yogi daunting. This is a guide to help you start to navigate which style of yoga may be right for you.

HATHA YOGA

slow & gentle

The physical practice of yoga. HATHA is 1 of 8 branches of yoga. It is the ancestor of all postural yoga from India. Hatha yoga has become the generic term for the physical practice in the USA. Any yoga class involving movement is teaching a form of HATHA. Yoga studios use the term Hatha yoga to indicate a slower paced class with focus on connecting to the breath while the body explores various poses. All levels of yogis including beginners & those with physical limitations.

ASHTANGA

traditional & physical

Synchronizes breath & movement designed to build strength, tone & purify the body. The Primary Series is a set sequence of yoga poses (+ or – depending on the day). As the practitioner advances, additional poses from the intermediate series & advanced series are added to the sequence over time. Founder: K.Pattabhi Jois

BIKRAM YOGA

hot & sweaty

A scripted set sequence of 26 poses & 2 breathing exercises. Challenging. Practiced in a hot room (95°-105°F) for 90 minutes. Promotes flexibility with focus on alignment.Founder: Bikram Choudry

FLOW/VINYASA

fluid

Ashtanga with variation often set to music. A fluid series of postures linked breath to movement designed to increase heart rate & build internal heat. Classes may include yoga philosophy, guided meditation or chanting in Sanskrit. Given the swift-moving pace of the practice, it is best for beginners to familiarize themselves with the postures prior to popping into a class to practice safely & avoid possible injury.

IYENGAR

precise

Focuses on anatomical details & alignment using various yoga props to modify body positioning & reduce chance of injury. Postures are hold for longer periods of time to allow the practitioner to fully explore the subtleties of each pose. Designed to cultivate strength, flexibility, stability & body awareness. Can be therapeutic for several conditions. Founder: BKS Iyengar

KRIPALU

introspective & compassionate 

Stresses awareness throughout the yoga practice: physical postures, breathing techniques, deep relaxation & meditation. Allows practitioners to modify & discover what works best for them. Challenging poses are  introduced slowly & held for longer periods of time. Promotes deeper levels of self awareness, physical & mental health. Founder. Gurudev Amrit Desai.

KUNDALINI

spiritual

Emphasizes the internal process of yoga more than the physical postures. Practice incorporates the sound, rhythmic movements, cleansing breathing exercises & short periods of relaxation. Designed to stimulate & awaken specific energies within the body to build sensory awareness, enhance consciousness & develop spiritual strength. Intensity refers to  the possible release of stored emotions.

LAUGHTER YOGA

playful

Combines deep breathing & laughter. Exercises use eye contact & childlike playfulness to initiate laughter designed to release endorphins. Laughter is good for physical, mental & emotional health and has been shown to reduce stress, enhance the immune system, manage pain & relieve symptoms of depression.

LIFEFORCE YOGA

therapeutic

Evidence-based practice involving yoga poses, breathing exercises, guided meditation, use of sounds, affirmation & visualization designed to manage depression; & balance the emotional, mental & physical body to a state of place of calm, equilibrium & self-awareness. Classes move slowly pausing  frequently to feel the effects of the practice. Has been adapted for use in the clinical setting. Founder: Amy Weintraub Website: www.yogafordepression.com

POWER YOGA

fitness-based & dynamic

Amped-up Ashtanga. Emphasizes strength training over philosophy or internal focus. Common in gyms & health clubs. Yoga poses are mixed with other exercises like sit-ups & push-ups designed for exercise to increase stamina, strength & flexibility.

RESTORATIVE YOGA

relaxed & supportive

Utilizes various yoga props such as bolsters, blankets, blocks & straps to support practitioner in prolonged yoga postures designed to release tension, restore health, strength & feeling of wellness.

SIVANANDA YOGA

traditional & philosophical

Standardized program of 2 breathing exercises, 12 yoga postures with structured relaxation at the beginning, end & throughout a 90-120 minute practice. Encourages a lifestyle of proper exercise, proper breathing, proper relaxation, proper diet, positive thinking & meditation. Founders: S. Vishnu-Devananda & S. Sivananda. Website: www.sivananda.org

VINIYOGA

transformative & therapeutic

Adaptive practice of yoga poses, breathing exercises, chanting, meditation & philosophy applied to the unique needs of each individual to create space for self-discovery & personal transformation. Founder: Gary Kraftsow.

YOGA NIDRA

restorative & meditative

Literally means yogic sleep. Practitioners are guided into a deep state of relaxation while maintaining full consciousness as they are led systematically to bring awareness to each part of their body. Studies have shown this practice helps to reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety & PTSD. learn more

This is not an all inclusive list. Like ChillAsana Yoga, there are other yoga schools that combine several yoga traditions. We encourage you to explore the different styles of yoga to find one or more that suit you the best.

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