Guide to different yoga styles

Different yoga styles

If you're considering taking up yoga, here is a short guide to the different kinds of yoga commonly offered by commercial/for profit yoga studios.

Yoga is popularly known as a series of physical poses that combines breathing and, sometimes, a bit of meditation/chanting.

Most people who are new to yoga go into it for its physical exercise/conditioning aspects. Most yoga studios and teachers do not incorporate chanting, but even if they do, it's not religion-based, so anyone can still do the chanting or choose not to.

The classics
Hatha yoga
A blanket term that means "physical yoga." Though usually, this is used to describe a moderately paced class using Vinyasa Flow (see below for description), ask your instructor.

Ashtanga yoga
- Vigorous style with set poses and sequences. First timers are usually led by an instructor, though eventually, are encouraged to practice by themselves (which is called Mystore style).
- Developed by K. Patthabi Jois (a student of Krishnamacharya)

- Focuses on correct alignment, poses are held longer
- Developed by BKS Iyengar (a student of Krishnamacharya)

Most commonly offered styles
Vinyasa/Vinyasa Flow/Flow
- Recommended for first-timers/beginners as an entry-level yoga style, once you've tried a class, you can decide if you prefer a more vigorous or slower style.
- Derived from Ashtanga, "freestyle Ashtanga," uses different poses for each session depending on sequence given by instructor
- Vinyasa also means "combining breathe with movement" and it also refers to a particular sequence of poses

Power yoga
- Same as Vinyasa, though usually at a slightly faster or more vigorous pacing
- Popularized in the 1990s by Americans Bryan Kest, Beryl Birch and Baron Baptiste

Bikram yoga
- 26 postures in a 104F/40C room, usually with no ventilation except when the instructor will open a window or door during the session. Studios in countries with dry climates use humidifiers (up to 40%). The sequence stays the same.
- Developed in the 1970s by Indian Bikram Choudhury, who has been accused of sexual harassment (see below)

Hot/Heated yoga
- Vinyasa Flow or Power Yoga in a heated room
- Usually offered by studios/instructors in lieu of Bikram because of trademark issues. The sequence does not follow the set poses of Bikram yoga.

- Usually based on Vinyasa Flow sequences but slower and more gently paced
- May focus more on breathing, relaxation poses and meditation/chanting

Newer styles
- based on Vinyasa flow with adjustments for pregnant bodies

Acro/Aerial/Anti-Gravity yoga
- combines yoga poses with poses done in/hanging from a hammock

Less Commonly Offered Styles
Bhakti/Bhakti Flow/Urban Bhakti
- uses music, sometimes chanting is included

- less physical
- repetitive motions, meditation/focusing, chanting

Yoga styles with creators or teachers accused of sexual harassment/exploitation or having sex with students
By Indians
Bikram yoga
- read about the cases here.

By Americans
- based on Vinyasa Flow
- developed in 1984 by Americans David Life and Sharon Gannon
- usually involves chanting in Sanskrit
- emphasizes vegetarianism and love for animals
- read about the case here.

- based on Iyengar yoga
- developed in 1997 by American John Friend
- read about the case here