Yoga Styles

Here’s a look at some of the many different styles of yoga being taught today. May it help you figure out which particular one is right for you.

ACROYOGA
AcroYoga is based on the collaboration of Jason Nemer and Jenny Sauer-Klein, who began practicing together in 2003. The basic idea is that one person (called the base) acts at the support for a partner (called the flyer), usually by lying on his or her back and holding the flyer up with his or her legs. The flyer then does a series of poses while balanced atop the base. This practice lends itself to performance and group play.
www.acroyoga.org

AERIAL YOGA
Aerial yoga makes use of a sling of fabric suspended from the ceiling, which is used to support your body as you hang above the floor. This support allows you to avoid stressing or compressing your joints while you are stretching. It’s also a good way to improve core strength. Some poses are also done while standing on the floor using the sling like a ropes wall.

AKHANDA
Akhanda Yoga Akhanda Yoga is a holistic approach to yoga founded by Yogi Vishvketu (Vishva ji) after he came to Canada from India in 2001. In Sanskrit, Akhanda means whole, or indivisible. Akhanda Yoga is a holistic approach to yoga practice and teaching which integrates diverse aspects of the yoga repertoire into each class: asana, pranayama, mantra or sounding, visualization/meditation, relaxation and themes. In this holistic class, we use themes to weave various aspect of yoga theory and practice together into a tapestry that offers students a powerful experience, and an diverse toolkit for their journey.

Akhanda Yoga is:
· A class that balances all of the directional movements of the spine (flexion, extension, lateral flexion, rotation, grounding and levitating);
· In all of the stations (standing, crouching, sitting, laying on the belly, laying on the back, arm balances and inversions);
· A balance between yang and yin – effort and allowing, in postures, meditation, and life;
· An approach that offers studies in the diverse toolkit of yoga techniques: asana, pranayama, mantra, visualization, relaxation and meditation;
· An approach that uses themes to bring the philosophies of the wider yoga tradition into classes as a thread that also helps guide the sequencing and dialogue for that class;
· A balance between cueing checkpoints for safety and allowing for inner inquiry. Some element of body mechanics is needed for safety and increased body awareness; however, if we over mechanise the postures, we limit the students’ freedom to explore the micro-movements they can make within the normal range, as well as to explore the subtle prana, and their own inner experience in any given moment.

For more information about Akhanda Yoga, please visit www.akhandayoga.com

ANANDA
For those who aspire to loftier goals than simply building a hard body, Ananda Yoga provides a tool for spiritual growth while releasing unwanted tensions. During the 1960s, Swami Kriyananda developed Ananda as a particular style of yoga after returning to California following a period of intense yoga training under Guru Paramhansa Yogananda (author of Autobiography of a Yogi). “The most unique part of this system is the use of silent affirmations while holding a pose,” says Rich McCord, director of Ananda Yoga’s teacher-training program at The Expanding Light retreat center in Nevada City, California. McCord explains that the affirmations are intended to help deepen and enhance the subtle benefits of each asana, providing a technique for aligning body, energy, and mind.

In a typical class, instructors guide their students through a series of gentle hatha postures designed to move energy upward to the brain, preparing the body for meditation. Classes also focus on proper alignment, easeful posture transitions, and controlled breathing exercises (pranayama) to facilitate an exploration into the inner dimensions of yoga and self-awareness.
www.expandinglight.org

ANUSARA
Anusara means “to step into the current of divine will.” Anusara Yoga is an integrated approach to hatha yoga in which the human spirit blends with the precise science of biomechanics. It is a new system of hatha yoga that can be both spiritually inspiring and yet grounded in a deep knowledge of outer and inner body alignment. It can be therapeutically effective and physically transformative. The central philosophy of this yoga is that each person is equally divine in every part?body, mind, and spirit. Each student’s various abilities and limitations are respected and honored. Anusara Yoga differentiates itself from other hatha yoga systems with three key areas of practice: Attitude. The practitioner balances an opening to grace with an aspiration for awakening to his or her true nature. Alignment. Each pose is performed with an integrated awareness of all the different parts of the body. Action. Each pose is performed as an artistic expression of the heart in which muscular stability is balanced with an expansive inner freedom.
www.anusara.com

ASHTANGA
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. Ashtanga Yoga Practice involves performing challenging sequence of poses with Ujjayi Breathing and 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. www.ashtanga.com.

BIKRAM
When you take a Bikram yoga class, expect to sweat. Each studio is designed to replicate yoga’s birthplace climate, with temperatures pushing 100° Fahrenheit.This method of staying healthy from the inside out was designed by Bikram Choudhury, who sequenced a series of 26 traditional hatha postures to address the proper functioning of every bodily system. Choudhury first visited the United States from India in 1971 on a trip sponsored by the American Medical Association to demonstrate his work using yoga to treat chronically ill patients. Today Choudhury continues teaching students of all ages and abilities from his studio in Los Angeles where he also conducts a certified teacher’s training program.
www.bikramyoga.com

FORREST
Forrest Yoga is the invention of west-coast yoga teacher Ana Forrest. Known for her acrobatic, dance-like yoga demonstrations, Forrest drew upon her personal history of abuse, epilepsy, alcoholism, and bulimia to create an intensely physical vinyasa-style practice that aims to heal psychic wounds. Forrest incorporates elements of Native American healing, encouraging students to go deep within and to use their yoga practice as therapy. Forrest Yoga pays special attention to abdominal work and breathing. Vigorous sequences of poses are intended to build heat in order to sweat out toxins and release emotions stored in the body.
www.forrestyoga.com

INTREGRAL
In 1966, the Reverend Sri Swami Satchidananda introduced an entire generation of young people to his yogic philosophy: “an easeful body, a peaceful mind, and a useful life.” His goal was to help people integrate yoga’s teachings into their everyday work and relationships, which he hoped would promote greater peace and tolerance worldwide.

“Integral Yoga uses classical hatha postures, which are meant to be performed as a meditation, balancing physical effort and relaxation,” says Swami Ramananda, president of the New York Integral Yoga Institute in Manhattan. In addition to a gentle asana practice, classes also incorporate guided relaxation, breathing practices, sound vibration (repetition of mantra or chant), and silent meditation.
www.integralyogaofnewyork.org

ISHTA
ISHTA, an acronym for the Integrated Science of Hatha, Tantra, and Ayurveda, is the yoga brainchild of South African native Alan Finger, who currently runs workshops at his yoga studio in Irvington, New York. Finger blends 37 years of teaching experience with his eclectic studies under Sivananda and the tantric hermit Barati, helping students of all ages and abilities to get in touch with life’s boundless energy.

A typical ISHTA class mixes flowing Ashtanga-style asanas with the precise method of Iyengar, while including pranayama and meditation exercises as well. Instructors begin classes with warm-up poses, then gradually build to a more challenging practice.
www.beyoga.com

IYENGAR
From his home in Pune, India, B.K.S. Iyengar reigns as one of the most influential yogis of his time. At 80 years old, he continues to teach thousands of students from all over the world, encouraging them to penetrate deeper into the experience of each pose.

In an Iyengar class, poses (especially standing postures) are typically held much longer than in other schools of yoga, so that practitioners can pay close attention to the precise muscular and skeletal alignment this system demands. Also specific to Iyengar, which is probably the most popular type of yoga practiced in the United States, is the use of props, including belts, chairs, blocks, and blankets, to help accommodate any special needs such as injuries or structural imbalances.
www.iyisf.org

JIVAMUKTI
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.
www.jivamuktiyoga.com

KALI RAY TRIYOGA
A series of flowing, dancelike movements intuitively came to Kali Ray (Kaliji) while leading a group meditation in 1980. In 1986, after developing these movements into seven distinct levels, Kaliji established the TriYoga Center in Santa Cruz, California, offering a system of yoga that is taught in a meditative environment.

The first level is a slow, relaxing, and rejuvenating practice. The class, often accompanied by music, focuses on natural alignment and breath within the flow, and ends with meditation. A union of asana (postures), pranayama (breathwork), and mudra (seals), this practice is deeply meditative, promoting relaxation and inner peace.
www.kaliraytriyoga.com

KRIPALU
Located in the Berkshire region of Western Massachusetts, the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health has helped guide thousands of people along their path of self-discovery by teaching a system of yoga developed over a 20-year period by yogi Amrit Desai and the Kripalu staff.

During the 1970s, while studying under Indian guru Kripaluvananda, Amrit felt his body begin to move in a spontaneous flow of postures without the direction of his mind. This deep release of prana (life’s energy force) brought about a profound transformation in Amrit, so he developed these movements into three stages of practice which he could then teach to others.

The three stages of Kripalu yoga include: willful practice (a focus on alignment, breath, and the presence of consciousness); willful surrender (a conscious holding of the postures to the level of tolerance and beyond, deepening concentration and focus of internal thoughts and emotions); and meditation in motion (the body’s complete release of internal tensions and a complete trust in the body’s wisdom to perform the postures and movements needed to release physical and mental tensions and enter deep meditation).
www.kripalu.org

KUNDALINI
Kundalini Yoga, stemming from the tantra yoga path, at one time remained a closely guarded secret practiced only by a select few. In 1969, however, Yogi Bhajan decided to change this tradition by bringing Kundalini to the West. Yogi Bhajan’s reasoning was based on the philosophy that it’s everybody’s birthright to be “healthy, happy and holy,” and he believed Kundalini would help spiritual seekers from all religious paths tap into their greater potential.

The practice of Kundalini Yoga incorporates postures, dynamic breathing techniques, and chanting and meditating on mantras such as “Sat Nam” (meaning “I am truth”). Practitioners concentrate on awakening the energy at the base of the spine and drawing it upward through each of the seven chakras.
www.3HO.org

MOKSHA
Moksha yoga is a series of traditional yoga postures created for practice in a heated room (37C). The series is a cardiovascular workout that strengthens, tones, and stretches the muscles while calming the mind and reducing stress. A combination of calm breathing and deep stretching allows for greater oxygen supply throughout the body, which returns the internal system to its healthiest form. The heat allows for deep stretching and promotes detoxification of the skin, blood and muscles.

PHOENIX RISING YOGA THERAPY
Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy is a combination of classical yoga and elements of contemporary client-centered and body-mind psychology. It can facilitate a powerful release of physical tensions and emotional blocks. Through assisted yoga postures, guided breathing, and nondirective dialogue, you can experience the connection of your physical and emotional selves, encouraging release, personal growth, and the healing of body, mind, and spirit.
www.pryt.com

POWER YOGA
In 1995, Bender Birch set out to challenge Americans’ understanding of what it really means to be fit with her book Power Yoga (Fireside, 1995). Bender Birch’s intention was to give a Western spin to the practice of Ashtanga Yoga, a challenging and disciplined series of poses designed to create heat and energy flow.

Power Yoga’s popularity has spread to health clubs across the country and has taken on a broad range of applications. The common thread is a rigorous workout that develops strength and flexibility while keeping students on the move.

RESTORATIVE
Restorative yoga makes use of props to support the body as it relaxes into poses over the course of several minutes. The idea is to stay in each pose long enough to encourage passive stretching. Seated forward bends, gentle supine back-bends, and twists are examples of the type of poses that can be adapted to be restorative with the addition of props like blankets and bolsters.

SIVANANDA
At its core, Sivananda Yoga is geared toward helping students answer the age-old question “Who am I?” This yoga practice is based on the philosophy of Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh, India, who taught disciples to “serve, love, give, purify, meditate, realize.” In order to achieve this goal, Sivananda advocated a path that would recognize and synthesize each level of the human experience including the intellect, heart, body, and mind.

In 1957, his disciple Swami Vishnu-devananda introduced these teachings to an American audience. A few years later, Vishnu-devananda founded the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers, summarizing Sivananda’s system into five main principles: proper exercise (asanas); proper breathing (pranayama); proper relaxation (Savasana); proper diet (vegetarian); and positive thinking (Vedanta) and meditation (dhyana).

SOMAYOG
Somayog is a fusion of somatic awareness with yoga from the Vedantic tradition. Developed by Danielle Munoz at the International Meditation Institute in Northern India during the early 1990’s, and brought to the West at the turn of the century by Susan Randall, (also of I.M.I.), Somayog focuses on promoting correct alignment, increasing mobility and flexibility of the spine, developing strength of core muscles and unfolding sensory awareness. An added benefit is the ability to ‘relax on a dime’.

People’s bodies transform through Somayog. Deceptively easy and disarmingly repetitive, it is a sophisticated and advanced form of yoga that reveals layers of depth through its practice. It takes care of the physical body whilst settling and strengthening the subtlest praanic body. It is an excellent introduction to yoga for beginners, and a challenging avenue for experienced practitioners who can recognise its subtlety.

Somayog teachers meditate. This gives us the sensitivity and capacity to create a subtle but palpable atmosphere of ease that is the very fabric of the technique.

SVAROOPA
This style of yoga teaches different ways of doing familiar poses, emphasizing the opening of the spine by beginning at the tailbone and progressing through each spinal area. Every pose integrates the foundational principles of asana, anatomy, and yoga philosophy, and 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 was developed by Rama Berch, who founded and directs the Master Yoga Academy and created the yoga program for Dr. Deepak Chopra’s Center for Well Being, both located in La Jolla, California. Berch says teaching asanas became increasingly frustrating, because the students seemed to be trying to “impose the pose upon their body rather than unfolding it from within.” She began looking for ways to guide her students to the deeper effects of each asana, speaking of them as “angles that provide opening, rather than poses to be learned.” New students find this a very approachable style, often beginning in chair poses that are comfortable and have a deep healing effect in the spine.
www.masteryoga.org

TIBETAN
Tibetan Yoga is a term used among Buddhists to describe a range of tantric meditation and pranayama practices. Though little is known in the West about the physical practices of Tibetan Yoga, in 1939, Peter Kelder published Ancient Secret of the Fountain of Youth (Doubleday, 1998), describing a sequence of postures of Tibetan origin called “The Five Rites of Rejuvenation.” In 1994, yoga teacher Christopher Kilham published a modern version of these exercises called The Five Tibetans: Five Dynamic Exercises for Health, Energy, and Personal Power (Inner Traditions). Composed of five flowing movements, this active workout keeps students on the move. Beginners start with 10 or 12 repetitions and progressively work their way up to the 21 repetitions of the full routine. Classes may be difficult to find.

Tibetan Buddhist monk Tarthang Tulku adapted another ancient movement practice for the modern West called Kum Nye. More contemplative in nature than the vigorous Five Tibetans, Kum Nye strives to integrate body and mind and means “interaction with the subtle body.”
www.nyingma.org

TIBETAN HEART YOGA
Tibetan Heart Yoga is a unique style of practicing Yoga, continuing a lineage that comes from Lord Naropa, a yogi who lived about 1100 AD. Our founder, and Principal Teacher of this lineage, Geshe Michael Roach, is the first American Geshe. Geshe is the highest degree conferred after 20 years of study in a Tibetan Monastery. Geshe Michael has spent the last 20 years learning Yoga from many renowned Tibetan Buddhist and Indian Yoga teachers in America and India. He recently completed a three-year retreat, has published numerous books, and now teaches Yoga, Spirituality, and Enlightened Business around the world.

Tibetan Heart Yoga is a practice where we work from the inside, and the outside. We work from the inside with our thoughts. We work from the outside with our pranayama (breathing), asana (posture), and ethical practices. We learn how to practice our yoga on the mat, and perfect our yoga off the mat.
www.yogastudiesinstitute.org

YIN YOGA
Yin Yoga is a slow-paced style of yoga with postures or asanas that are held for comparatively long periods of time–five minutes or longer per pose is typical. It was founded and first taught in the United States in the late 1970s by martial arts expert and Taoist yoga teacher Paulie Zink. Yin-style yoga is now being taught across North America and in Europe, due in large part to the widespread teaching activities of Yin Yoga teachers and developers Paul Grilley and Sarah Powers.

Yin Yoga poses apply moderate stress to the connective tissues—the tendons, fascia, and ligaments—with the aim of increasing circulation in the joints and improving flexibility. Yin Yoga poses are also designed to improve the flow of qi, the subtle energy said in Chinese medicine to run through the meridian pathways of the body. Improved flow of qi is hypothesized to improve organ health, immunity, and emotional well-being. Yin Yoga as taught by Paul Grilley and Sarah Powers is not intended as a complete practice in itself, but rather as a complementary practice to balance the effects of more active forms of yoga and exercise. Paulie Zink’s approach includes the full range of Daoist yoga and is intended to be a complete practice in itself.[8]:21 Sarah Powers has developed a system called Insight Yoga which features both Yin poses and more active Yang poses. Note: Description taken from Wikipedia
www.yinyoga.com

VINIYOGA
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.
www.viniyoga.com

WHITE LOTUS
White Lotus Yoga is the collaborative effort of Ganga White and Tracey Rich, who meld two eclectic backgrounds and years of experience into a nondogmatic teaching approach dedicated to helping students develop a well-balanced personal practice. At their 40-acre retreat in the Santa Ynez Mountains of Santa Barbara, California, this husband and wife team offers a complete yoga-immersion experience with programs ranging from weekend and weeklong getaways to 16-day teacher training programs.

White Lotus Yoga is a flowing vinyasa practice which ranges from gentle to vigorous depending on your ability or comfort level. In addition, class formats incorporate alignment, breath, and the theoretical understanding of yoga.
www.whitelotus.org.

HATHA
If you are browsing through a yoga studio’s brochure of classes and the yoga offered is simply described as “hatha,” chances are the teacher is offering an eclectic blend of two or more of the styles described above. It’s a good idea to ask the teacher or director of the studio where he or she was trained and if the poses are held for a length of time or if you will be expected to move quickly from one pose to the next, and if meditation or chanting is included. This will give you a better idea if the class is vigorous or more meditative.