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YOGA FOR BEGINNERS GUIDE: Whats your YOGA style ? Explore 15 different types of YOGA

One of the biggest hurdles to starting yoga is figuring out what style of yoga you want to try. It's often confusing for beginners because the class names and options are so broad. While almost all styles use the same physical postures, each has a particular emphasis. This cheat sheet highlights the differences so you can determine which type is most appealing to you.

Of course, the best way to start doing yoga is to take a class for beginners. If your local studio doesn't indicate which classes are geared toward newbies, ask in advance which class is going to offer basic instruction appropriate for someone new. If you're seeking out online videos, search specifically for beginner-level classes almost all online yoga video platforms let you search by ability-level. 

Just keep in mind, if you don't like your first yoga class, that doesn't mean that you and yoga aren't meant to be. Because there are so many different styles of yoga and so many different instructors with their own approaches to teaching, it may take a few attempts before you find the right fit.

Given the many benefits of a regular yoga practice, if you don't like yoga initially, commit to trying several different classes before you write it off completely.

Beginner-Friendly Options 

Aside from classes designated as "beginner yoga," generally speaking, classes labeled as "hatha" are slower-moving, thoughtful practices that focus on basic, beginner-friendly poses.

Of course, it's important to recognize that the term "hatha" is actually a generic designation for any form of yoga focused on movement. In America, almost every yoga class is, technically, hatha, so make sure you ask the instructor what you can expect before your first class.

Vinyasa classes are incredibly popular, but they tend to be faster-moving, which can be confusing for beginners who are unfamiliar with basic poses.

If you want to try a vinyasa class, seek out a beginner-level version. 

Finally, Iyengar yoga is a form of yoga heavily focused on proper alignment. This is great for people who have injuries or who want to spend extra time getting each pose exactly right. You can expect a lot of instruction, which is great for beginners. 

Remember, any style of yoga can be perfectly suitable for beginners as long as it's designated a "beginner" class, so if your local studio offers yin or Forrest yoga, feel free to give it a try. Just be sure to let your instructor know that you're new to the practice. By giving him the heads up, he'll know to keep an eye on you and to offer more detailed instructions as needed. 

Different YOGA Styles Explained

You can try to identify your yoga type or figure out what your yoga personality is to see which of the following styles is best for you. There are many to choose from, but don't let that intimidate you. Try a beginner-friendly class before branching out (if you want to).

1 - HATHA YOGA

Hatha is a very general term that encompasses any of the physical styles of yoga. In contemporary yoga lingo, hatha has come to mean a slow-paced and gentle way of practicing. Hatha classes are often a good place to begin a yoga practice because they provides an introduction to the basic yoga poses in a low-key setting.

Hatha is a very broad term that encompasses any of the physical practices of yoga. It can be used to describe every kind of yoga asana practice from Iyengar to Ashtanga and everything that falls between and beyond. In fact, any of the many contemporary types of physical yoga that are popular today can be accurately described as Hatha yoga.

The History of Hatha

Hatha means forceful in Sanskrit, the ancient Indian language that is the source of most of yoga's terminology.

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According to Ellen Stansell, a scholar of yogic literature, the term may have come into use as early as the 12th century. Though Hatha is considered to be on the gentle end of the spectrum these days, Stansell posits that it must have seemed strong in comparison to more subtle practices (meditation, for example) that were available at the time.

The first Indian gurus who brought yoga to a Western audience in the mid-19th century took pains to distance themselves from Hatha yoga, which they associated with wandering street mendicants called yogins. In his book "Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice" Mark Singleton says it was not until the international popularity of the physical culture movement later in the 19th century that Hatha yoga was integrated into the teachings exported to the West.

Contemporary Hatha Yoga Classes

Given that the word has such an open meaning, what should you expect if you attend a Hatha yoga class?

Today, Hatha is most often used to describe gentle, basic yoga classes with no flow between poses. Expect a slower-paced stretching-focused class with some basic pranayama breathing exercises and perhaps a seated meditation at the end. Hatha classes are a good place to work on your alignment, learn relaxation techniques, and become comfortable with doing yoga while building strength and flexibility.

Hatha Flow Classes

Just to confuse things, some studios throw something called Hatha flow into the mix. Wait, didn't we just say that Hatha wasn't flow? Classes in which you move from pose to pose in a sequence without resting can also correctly be described as Vinyasa. To further add to the muddle, you might see both Hatha flow and Vinyasa on the schedule at your local studio. In this case, expect the Vinyasa to be a little more vigorous, but so much depends on the style of each individual teacher that it's impossible to be definitive on this point without taking specific classes. If you need more clarification, ask the studio how the classes differ or try them yourself to find out.

Is Hatha Yoga for You?

Try a Hatha class if the idea of gentle yoga appeals to you or seems right for your body. It can be a great introduction to yoga, but shouldn't be mistaken for easy yoga since it can still be challenging both physically and mentally. Hatha classes provide an opportunity to stretch, unwind, and release tension, providing a good counterpoint to both busy lifestyles and cardio workouts. If you go into a Hatha class and it feels too slow or not active enough, don't give up on yoga completely.

There are faster-paced, more athletic ways to do yoga. Try a Vinyasa or power yoga class and see if that is more your speed.

2 - VINYASA FLOW YOGA

Like hatha, vinyasa is a general term used to describe many different types of classes. Vinyasa tends to be a more vigorous style of yoga incorporating series of poses called sun salutations, in which each movement is matched to the breath.

A vinyasa class typically starts with a number of sun salutations to warm up the body for more intense stretching done at the end of class. Vinyasa is also called flow, in reference to the continuous movement from one posture to the next.

Vinyasa, also called flow because of the smooth way that the poses run together, is one of the most popular contemporary styles of yoga. It's a broad classification that encompasses many different types of yoga, including Ashtanga and power yoga.

In contemporary yoga parlance, vinyasa stands in opposition to hatha. Hatha classes tend to focus on one pose at a time with rest in between. In contrast, flow classes string poses together to make a sequence. The sequence may be fixed, as in Ashtanga in which the poses are always done in the same order, but most of the time vinyasa teachers have the discretion to arrange the progression of poses in their own ways.

In vinyasa yoga, each movement is synchronized to a breath. The breath is given primacy, acting as an anchor as you move from one pose to the next. A cat-cow stretch is an example of a very simple vinyasa. The spine is arched on an inhale and rounded on an exhale. A sun salutation sequence is a more complex vinyasa. Each movement in the series is cued by an inhalation or an exhalation of the breath.

The literal translation of vinyasa from Sanskrit is "connection," according to Ellen Stansell, Ph.D., RYT, and scholar of yogic literature. In terms of yoga asana, we can interpret this as a connection between movement and breath or as the connection between poses in a flowing sequence.

What to Expect

Vinyasa allows for a lot of variety, but will almost always include sun salutations. Expect to move, sometimes vigorously, from pose to pose. Whether the class is fast or slow, includes advanced poses, or is very alignment-oriented will depend on the individual teacher and the particular style in which he or she is trained.

Some classes include some warm-up stretches at the beginning while others launch straight into standing poses. Some very popular yoga styles fall under the vinyasa umbrella, including Jivamukti, CorePower, Baptiste Power Vinyasa, and Modo. If a class is simply identified as vinyasa, it may use of aspects of several different traditions. The one thing you can be sure if is the flow between poses. The rest is up to the teacher, but you can expect to go through any combination of the poses below.

Going Through Your Vinyasa

When vinyasa is used as a noun, it describes a series of three poses that are done as part of a sun salutation sequence. When the teacher says, "go through the vinyasa at your own pace," she means to do a plank, chaturanga, and upward facing dog (or their equivalent variations) using your breath to measure when to move on to the next pose.

If you start to get tired and this affects the quality of your poses, it's very acceptable to skip the vinyasa and wait for the class in downward facing dog.

The beginner's version of the vinyasa is plank → knees, chest, chin → cobra → downward facing dog.

The advanced version is plank → chaturanga dandasana → upward facing dog → downward facing dog.

Let's look a closer look at the beginners' sequence first and then on to the more advanced sequence.

Beginners Version: Plank Pose

Begin in a plank position. This is usually arrived at by stepping or jumping back from the front of your mat. If plank  is too much for you, you can always drop your knees to the floor. Just make sure to keep your elbows aligned under your shoulders.

Lower to Knees, Chest, and Chin

Exhale to lower your knees, chest, and chin to your mat. Your butt stays high in the air and your elbows point straight back along your sides. This pose is a good warm-up for backbends and helps you develop arm strength.

Cobra Pose

Inhale and slide forward to a low cobra pose. Don't move your arms. As you lower your hips to the floor, your chest will come forward and lift up off the ground.​

Try to make this lift come from the strength of your back, not pushing down into your hands. Keep little to no weight in your hands while you anchor your pelvis and the tops of your feet to the mat.

Downward Facing Dog

Exhale and curl your toes under as you straighten your arms to push back to downward facing dog. You can come through all fours or a child's pose in transition if you want to.

Advanced Version: Back to Plank Pose

Now let's take a look at the advanced version, which also begins with plank pose. During a sun salutation flow, advanced students will sometimes jump back from utanasana straight into chaturanga. In that case, skip the plank pose.

To prepare to lower from plank, shift forward onto your tip toes.

Exhale and bend your elbows straight back to lower to chaturanga dandasana . Your body is in one straight line and your shoulders should be no lower than your elbows. It's a tough position to hold but try not to rush on to the next pose.

Inhale and straighten your arms, drop your hips, and roll over the toes to the tops of your feet into upward facing dog. You can flip the feet one at a time if that works better for you. Press into your hands and feet to keep your thighs lifted off the floor. Keep your shoulders moving away from your ears.

Downward Facing Dog

Exhale, roll over the toes and shift your hips up and back to downward facing dog.

Do the version of the vinyasa that you are most comfortable with. Even if you have a very competent chaturanga, it's nice to warm up with a few rounds of knees, chest, chin at the beginning of class.

Some flow classes have a lot of vinyasas. If you get tired and your form starts to slip, go back to the beginners' version or skip the vinyasa altogether. You can stay in plank or downward facing dog while you wait. Chaturanga is a tricky pose and injuries are more likely to happen when you're tired, so play it safe.

Is Vinyasa Flow Yoga for You?

Vinyasa’s strength is in its diversity. If you appreciate having things a little loose and unpredictable and like to keep moving, this style is definitely worth a try.

In most cases, there is no single philosophy, rulebook, or sequence that teachers must follow, so there is a lot of room for individual personalities and quirks to come through. This makes it essential that you find a teacher you enjoy and can relate to. If your first flow class doesn’t rock your world, keep trying different teachers until you find one that's a better fit.

3 - ANUSARA YOGA 

Founded in 1997 by John Friend, Anusara combines a strong emphasis on physical alignment with a positive philosophy based on a belief in the intrinsic goodness of all beings.

Classes are usually light-hearted and accessible, often with a focus on heart opening.

Unfortunately, Friend is no longer associated with Anusara due to his personal indiscretions. Anusara is now a teacher-led yoga school and Friend has started a new yoga style called Sridaiva.

Anusara, which means "flowing with grace," was founded in 1997 by American yogi John Friend and quickly grew into a respected yoga empire with a large following in the United States, Europe, and Asia. Anusara's upward momentum came to an abrupt halt, however, in 2012 when Friend resigned his leadership in the wake of a scandal.

The Rise of Anusara 1997-2012

John Friend was a senior level Iyengar yoga teacher before leaving the fold to pursue his own yoga method, which explains his ongoing concern with the importance of alignment.

The heart of Anusara Yoga and what sets it apart from other styles is what Friend called the Universal Principles of Alignment, a unique way of teaching yoga poses that emphasizes core stability and spinal mobility within a vinyasa-style practice. Anusara is a complete yoga system that includes its own philosophy, derived from Tantra, that teaches that all beings are inherently good. With its charismatic leader, rigorous initiation process (teacher-trainings were expensive and took years), and specialized vocabulary, Anusara carved out its own niche, becoming very influential in contemporary yoga throughout the first decade of the 21st century as Friend's singular approach to alignment and mystical rhetoric found purchase at a time that coincided with surge in yoga's popularity.

What to Expect If You Take an Anusara Class

Anusara classes are often lighthearted, positive, and fun. They are not easy, however, as they include vinyasa flow and a lot of alignment work. Anusara encourages the use of props, making classes accessible to students of differing abilities.

Anusara does have its own vocabulary, which takes some getting used to, though teachers are trained to explain the Universal Principals of Alignment in lay terms. Anusara appeals to those who want to work both their physical and spiritual well-being. Although it doesn't have the prominence and cachet that it once did, Anusara still has positive things to offer.

4 - ASHTANGA YOGA 

Ashtanga is a fast-paced, intense, flowing style of yoga founded by Pattabhi Jois in the 1960s. A set series of poses is performed, always in the same order. This practice is very physically demanding because of the constant movement from one pose to the next and the emphasis on daily practice.

It was one of the first yoga styles embraced by a large number of western students and had been very influential in the evolution of yoga in the past 30 years.


Ashtanga (also spelled Astanga) means "eight limbs" in Sanskrit, which refers to the eight limbs of yoga laid out in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The Ashtanga method stresses daily vinyasa flow practice using ujjayibreathing, mula bandhauddiyana bandha, and drishti. There are six different Ashtanga series, through which a student progresses at his or her own pace.

The Ashtanga method of asana practice was interpreted by T. Krishnamacharya and Sri K. Pattabhi Jois from an ancient text called the "Yoga Korunta," which they claimed described a unique system of hatha yoga developed by Vamana Rishi. 

Founder Pattabhi Jois

K. Pattabhi Jois (1915–2009) began his yoga studies with Krishnamacharya in Mysore, India at the age of 12. He became the leading practitioner and teacher of Ashtanga yoga, which is a set series of poses done in a flowing vinyasa style. In 1962, he published his treatise on Ashtanga yoga, "Yoga Mala." His first Western students began to arrive in Mysore in the early 1970s. Through them, Ashtanga spread westward and profoundly influenced the way yoga is practiced today. After Pattabhi Jois died in 2009, his grandson Sharath took over the leadership role, including teaching the many students who continue to flock to Mysore to deepen their practices.

Ashtanga Series of Poses

The first, or primary, series is described in "Yoga Mala." The primary series is called Yoga Chikitsa, which means yoga therapy. It is intended to realign the spine, detoxify the body, and build strength, flexibility, and stamina. The series of about 75 poses takes an hour and a half to two hours to complete, beginning with sun salutations (surya namaskara A and surya namaskara B) and moving on to standing poses, seated poses, inversions, and backbends before relaxation.

The intermediate or second series is called Nadi Shodana, meaning nervous system purification. It cleanses and strengthens the nervous system and the subtle energy channels throughout the body. This series is only introduced when the student has mastered the primary series. It follows the same progression (sun salutations, standing, sitting, etc.) as the primary series, but introduces new poses and variations.

The four advanced series are called Sthira Bhaga, which means divine stability. Pattabhi Jois originally outlined two intensive advanced series, but later subdivided them into four series to make them accessible to more people. These series emphasize difficult arm balances and are only appropriate for extremely advanced students. There are very few students practicing beyond the second series.

Ashtanga Classes

Many yoga studios offer led Ashtanga classes, meaning a teacher leads the class and instructs students in the order of the poses, usually in the primary or secondary series. Students often may also opt for self-led, or Mysore style practice. This is an opportunity to practice at their own pace and level of ability, but in the company of other students and with the encouragement and advice of a teacher, as needed.

In the Mysore method, the student masters each pose in sequence and is given new poses to work on by their teachers as they become ready. Ashtanga can be an ideal foundation for home practitioners once they know the sequence of poses.

Is Ashtanga for You?

Ashtanga yoga is extremely popular and inspires fierce loyalty in its students. This vigorous, athletic style of practice appeals to those who like a sense of order and who like to do things independently. You may want to become familiar with Ashtanga vocabulary to help you feel comfortable with this style's specialized terminology.

5 - BAPTISTE POWER VINYASA YOGA

Baron Baptiste is a power yoga innovator who studied many different styles of yoga, martial arts, and meditation before coming up with his own unique yoga method, Baptiste Power Vinyasa.

His style is based on 5 Pillars: vinyasa, ujjayi pranayama, heat, uddiyana bandha, and drishti. Classes, which are conducted in a heated room, are typically strong and sweaty.

Baptiste Power Vinyasa (BPV) yoga is a type of hot power yoga. It was developed by Baron Baptiste, who says it is focused on asana (poses), meditation, and self inquiry and is intended to be adaptable to any level of physical ability. Learn the pillars of this style of yoga, its history, and where you can practice it.

History of Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga

It would be hard to find a better yoga lineage than the one boasted by Baron Baptiste.

His parents, Walt and Magana Baptiste, opened the first yoga studio in San Francisco in 1952. Early on, Baptiste was taken with the teachings of B.K.S. Iyengar and Bikram Choudhury.

By the mid 1990s, Baptiste had synthesized these teachings, along with influences from Ashtanga and T.K.V. Desikachar (founder of Viniyoga and son of Krishnamacharya) into his own style of power yoga that also emphasized the importance of intuition. Elements from all these predecessors come together to form the foundations of Baptiste Power Vinyasa: drishti, bandhas, pranayama, vinyasa, alignment, and adaptability.

The 5 Pillars of Baptiste Power Vinyasa

The ​important aspects of the Baptiste method are summarized by the five pillars: breath, heat, flow, gaze, and core stabilization.

1. Breath: The primary pranayama used in BPV is ujjayi, which is associated with a strong vinyasa practice. In ujjayi breath, you tone or constrict the back of your throat (as you would when fogging up a mirror) as you inhale and exhale through your nose.

This takes some practice but soon become second nature. It has the effect of slowing down the breath to make keep it deep and powerful during challenging postures. When the breath becomes short and shallow, it can trigger the fight or flight panic reflexes in the body. Keep the breath long and deep helps you stay calm.

2. Heat: In official BPV classes, the room should be heated to 90 to 95 degrees. This external heating of the room is intended to allow students to quickly stoke their internal fires (tapas) for a loose, sweaty practice.

3. Flow: Flow is vinyasa style practice in which movement is linked to breath. Daily practice is encouraged. While there isn't a fixed series of poses in BPV, there is a pattern that most classes follow. Classes begin with several rounds of surya namaskara A and B, although there is room for some variation here. Then the teacher moves on to a standing series that includes vinyasa flow between sides. More advanced variations are offered in addition to adaptations for beginners. Classes often also include abdominal work, backbending, and hip opening.

4. Gaze: Drishti means looking at a particular place while doing yoga poses. It is an important part of Ashtanga yoga, where drishtis are taught as part of the alignment for each pose. In BPV, the gaze is not specific for each posture. Instead, students are directed to fix their attention on any point that doesn’t move and to keep their eyes soft as a way to turn their attention away from what's going on externally in the room around them and bring their focus inward.

5. Core Stabilization: Core stabilization is uddiyana bandha. In BPV, this means the constant drawing in of the belly button toward the spine. This is done throughout the practice, but it’s not exactly the deep uddiyana bandha seen in "Light on Yoga" in which the belly is completely hollowed until the ribs protrude. It is intended to provide support by engaging the core for balance and strength.

Where to Practice Baptiste Power Vinyasa

There are two official Baptiste Yoga studios in Boston, Massachusetts, and San Francisco, California. However, there are affiliated studios throughout the U.S. Baptiste has a very open program in which independent studios teaching his method can become partner studios.

It may be that the hot yoga studio in your neighborhood is teaching BPV. Check the Baptiste website to find a studio near you. Baptiste is also active on the yoga festival and conference circuit, often appears in the pages of Yoga Journal and has written several books, including "Journey Into Power," "Being of Power," and "My Daddy is a Pretzel" for kids. Yogadownload.com offers BPV classes online.

6 - HOT YOGA (also known as BIKRAM)

Hot yoga was pioneered by Bikram Choudhury, whose name became synonymous with yoga classes taught in a room heated to 95 to 104 degrees. The heat facilitates the loosening of tight muscles and profuse sweating, which is thought to be cleansing. The Bikram method is a set series of 26 poses, but not all hot classes make use of this series.

Hot yoga can refer to any yoga class done in a heated room. Though there are a few styles of hot yoga classes, Bikram yoga is the original hot yoga and among the best known. Even though some people may use "hot" and "Bikram" interchangeably, the truth is that all Bikram yoga is hot, but not all hot yoga is Bikram.

Hot Yoga

Hot yoga often tends to be a flowing vinyasa style of practice in which the teacher instructs students in a series of linked poses.

During class, the room is usually maintained at a temperature of 95 to 105 F. As you can imagine, a vigorous yoga session at high temperatures makes the body very warm and induces profuse sweating. The intent is that the heat loosens your muscles and the sweat helps cleanse your body.

Bikram yoga is just one style of hot yoga. Other popular hot yoga options include the Canadian import Moksha yoga (known as Modo yoga in the United States) and CorePower yoga, a rapidly expanding chain. Many locally-owned and independent yoga studios offer their own style of heated classes as well.

Tips and Precautions

Hot yoga will need preparation and gear that can handle the heat:

  • It is essential to have your own yoga mat when doing hot yoga since you will be sweating a lot. Yogitoes Skidless mat towels (or other similar products) are popular hot yoga accessories. These towels are placed over your mat to absorb sweat and improve traction.
  • The sweating you do in hot yoga also means you'll want to choose the right yoga wear. Generally, women and men find that tight-fitting tops and capris or long pants are best to prevent slipping during poses.
  • The actual temperature in a hot yoga class will vary by style and studio. Some can be as hot as 108 F, which makes the 75 F rooms seem almost chilly.
  • The "sweating out the toxins" catchphrase is popular among hot yoga students. The truth is that sweating is not really part of the detoxification system of our bodies, though it can make you feel better in the end.
  • Make sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after class so you don't get dehydrated. It is not advisable to eat within two hours before you take a class.
  • Hot yoga is not advised for pregnant women since it can raise the core body temperature.

Bikram Yoga

Bikram Choudhury is a hot yoga innovator and founder of the Bikram yoga system. His method is the original style to be set in a hot room. It is a set series of 26 postures, including two pranayama exercises, each of which is performed twice in a single 90-minute class.

Choudhury was born in Calcutta, India, in 1946. He was a yoga champion in his youth, as was his wife Rajashree. In 1974, Choudhury founded the Yoga College of India in Beverly Hills, California, to teach his method. It soon became one of the most popular styles of yoga asana practiced in the West.

As Bikram's yoga classes began to draw members of the Hollywood elite, he embarked on an increasingly ostentatious lifestyle. He became known for his fleet of sports cars and for wearing expensive jewelry.

The successful yoga guru would, however, become embroiled in lawsuits and sexual assault allegations.

Bikram and Copyright

In 2002, Choudhury copyrighted his series of 26 poses done in a hot room. He has since been involved in a number of legal disputes, both over the unauthorized use of his name and the use of his method under a different name.

Choudhury successfully sued a Los Angeles yoga studio in 2003 for copyright and trademark infringement. He became the defendant in 2004 when he was sued by a San Francisco-based collective of hot yoga teachers. This group had received cease-and-desist letters over their unlicensed use of the Bikram method.

The plaintiffs argued that yoga cannot be copyrighted. The parties reached a settlement in 2005 in which Choudhury agreed not to sue them and they agreed not to use the Bikram name.

Choudhury filed another high-profile suit in 2011. This time it was against the New York-based studio Yoga to the People, which offers yoga classes by donation in several U.S. cities. This case was settled in 2012 when Yoga to the People owner Greg Gumucio agreed to stop using Bikram's name and series. Although the case didn't go to trial, it was significant because the U.S. Copyright Office announced that its previously issued copyright of Bikram's series was an error and that yoga postures could not be copyrighted.

Bikram and Sexual Assault

In 2015, the focus of Bikram's legal troubles shifted away from the protection of his yoga method. He became the subject of at least six civil lawsuits alleging sexual assault or rape going back a number of years.

Though the details vary, they indicate a pattern of Choudhury preying on young female yoga students and teachers, often those enrolled in his intensive teacher training program. In early 2016, a Los Angles court ruled in favor of Choudhury's former legal advisor, who said that she was sexually harassed and fired from her position for investigating other women's harassment claims.

Around the same time, Rajashree Choudhury filed for divorce. Bikram also fled the United States. In May 2017, an arrest warrant was issued for him in California and by November he and his company had filed for bankruptcy.

The Implications

The downfall of Choudhury can act as a cautionary tale within the yoga community. The nature of the practice often forms close relationships and some people may choose to take advantage of this.

Bikram studios remain open and many are operated by independent instructors. For this reason, it's important to remember that only the founder has been implicated in wrongdoing in these cases.

A Word From Bodydetoxtips 4U

Hot yoga is a viable option for many yoga students, though it is considerably more intense than classes offered in cooler rooms. Before taking a class, consider any medical conditions you may have and speak to your doctor about whether it's right for you

7 - LYENGER YOGA

Based on the teachings of the yoga master B.K.S Iyengar, this style of practice is all about bringing the body into its best possible alignment, often using props such as yoga blankets, blocks, and straps to assist students in mastering proper form.

Iyengar practices usually emphasize holding poses over longer periods of time instead of moving quickly from one pose to the next (as in a flow class). Iyengar has been very important in the development of modern yoga asana.

B.K.S. Iyengar was born on December 14, 1918. He started doing yoga as a teenager in an effort to improve his health after contracting tuberculosis, studying with his brother-in-law, Krishnamacharya, in Mysore, India. Iyengar began teaching yoga in 1936. As American and European students began seeking yoga instruction in the 1960s, Iyengar's method rose to prominence.

He established his principal school, the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (named for his wife) in Pune, India in 1975. This center became a nexus for the popularization of yoga. As one of the first teachers to teach yoga to westerners, Iyengar's influence on modern asana practice cannot be overstated. He died on August 20, 2014, at the age of 95. His son Prashant and daughter Geeta now administer the RIMYI.

The Iyengar Method: Alignment and Props

Iyengar's method, a form of hatha yoga, is based on giving primacy to the physical alignment of the body in the poses. In this style, it is taught that there is a correct way to do each pose and that every student will one day be able to attain perfect poses through consistent practice. Iyengar believed that once balance is achieved in a student's body, it will soon be reflected in his or her mind.

One of Iyengar's major innovations was the use of props.

Today, it is quite common to see blankets, blocks, straps, pillows, chairs and bolsters being used in yoga studios. The use of these props is comparatively new in the history of yoga and comes directly from Iyengar. The purpose of the props is to allow students to have the best possible alignment while their bodies are opening up.

Case Study: How to Use Props in the Iyengar Tradition

As an example, let's look at triangle pose. In this pose, your hand ideally comes to the floor on the outside of your front foot. But what if it is difficult or impossible for you to bring your hand to the floor without compromising the opening of your chest, which is one of the main purposes of the pose? In Iyengar's view, the alignment of the left shoulder over the right should be facilitated by the use of a block under the right hand until the body becomes open enough so that the block is no longer needed. This is one of the ways in which Iyengar's method makes yoga more accessible to a wide range of people. The props are used the adapt the body to the correct alignment, and can be used according to the student's own needs.

More About Iyengar's Method: No Flow

Vinyasa flow is a term used in yoga to describe the fluid transition from one pose to the next in conjunction with either an inhale or exhale of breath. Iyengar-style yoga includes very little vinyasa flow. Instead, poses are held for longer durations while the alignment is perfected. Therefore, Iyengar yoga is not as intense a cardiovascular experience as a more flowing style such as Ashtanga.

Holding the poses, however, is strenuous, builds strength, and is excellent for increasing flexibility. The absence of vinyasa flow is another reason why the Iyengar method brings yoga within reach of a broad population. It's a great place to start for people who are not physically able to do a flowing style practice. This makes Iyengar one of the most popular styles of yoga worldwide.

Iyengar's Writings

In addition to developing and popularizing his style of practice, Iyengar's books are highly respected and have become classic yoga texts. Chief among them is Light on Yoga, first published in 1966, which describes and illustrates hundreds of yoga poses and many breathing techniques.

His other important books include Light on Pranayama, which focuses on breath work, and Light on The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, which is a translation and interpretation of the ancient Yoga Sutras, from which Iyengar drew the philosophical groundwork for his method of yoga. His last book, Light on Life, addresses the mental and spiritual aspects of yoga.

Is Iyengar Yoga for You?

Don't get the idea that an Iyengar class will be easy, even though the style of practice is adaptable to different levels. Iyengar is also very appealing to more advanced yogis who want to work on their alignment. People who are very meticulous, technical, have an interest in anatomy, and an appreciation of subtle movements in the body typically enjoy Iyengar-style practice. Even if you never take an Iyengar class, his influence is so prevalent today you will surely encounter it in the way poses are taught and props are used across the yoga spectrum.

8 - JIVAMUKTI YOGA 

This style of yoga emerged in the 1980s from one of New York City’s best-known yoga studios. Jivamukti founders David Life and Sharon Gannon were influenced by the rigor of Ashtanga yoga in combination with chanting, meditation, and spiritual teachings. They have trained many teachers who have brought this style of yoga to studios and gyms, predominantly in the U.S. and Europe.

Jivamukti classes are physically intense and often include an inspirational theme selected by the teacher.

Jivamukti Founders David Life and Sharon Gannon. © 2006 Guzman

Jivamukti Origins

David Life and Sharon Gannon met in New York City in 1983 in the most Bohemian way possible when her band played at his restaurant, the iconic Life Cafe in the East Village. They were both deeply involved in art, music, and 80s counterculture and they soon began to practice yoga together. In 1984, they founded Jivamukti, one of the first hybrid yoga styles to emerge in the United States. Jivamukti is a hybrid because its methodology and philosophy synthesize elements from the teachings of several different gurus. Life and Gannon consider their three most influential teachers to have been Swami Nirmalanda, Ashtanga guru Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, and Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati. The name Jivamukti was inspired by a Sanskrit word that means “liberation while living.” For many years, Jivamukti stayed close to its East Village roots, first on 2nd Avenue and 10th street and later on Lafayette Street. In 2006, Jivamukti moved to Union Square, opening a flagship studio with a cafe and boutique. Early devotees included such Hollywood and music industry celebrities as Gwyneth Paltrow, Christy Turlington, Uma Thurman, Russell Simmons, and Sting.

What to Expect from a Jivamukti Class

Jivamukti is a vinyasa style practice where the asana is usually quite vigorous, though classes can also be lighthearted and fun. Each class has a theme, which is explored through yoga scripture, chanting, meditation, asana, pranayama, and music, which is why Jivamukti appeals to people who want more than a good workout. Teachers are encouraged to make yoga principles relatable by drawing examples from modern life and contemporary music, so there is usually a presentation of the theme at the beginning of class and a reemphasis of it throughout. One of the strongest currents in Jivamukti's philosophy is a strict interpretation of the yamaahimsa, which means non-violence. Accordingly, Jivamukti teachers advocate, sometimes strongly, for a vegan diet. 

Finding a Jivamukti Studio or Teacher

In addition to the Union Square location, there are several other licensed Jivamukti studios in the New York area and abroad. The U.S. locations are in Jersey City, New Jersey and Woodstock, New York. In Germany, there are centers in Berlin and Munich. London, Moscow, Sydney, and Puebla, Mexico are the other official locations. But don’t worry of you don’t live in one of these cities. There are many other ways to experience this yoga style. The Jivamukti website maintains a large list of affiliated studios and certified teachers. At affiliated studios, the majority of classes will be Jivamukti style. You may also find certified teachers offering Jivamukti classes in other contexts (non-affiliated studios, health clubs), so search for your location to see what’s available in your area. There are also several Jivamukti DVDsavailable, but this yoga style is so community oriented that you will have the fullest experience from taking a class. 

Teacher Training

Jivamukti runs one of the most respected teacher training programs in the U.S. One reason is that to become a certified Jivamukti teacher, you have to put in more hours than are required to earn the basic Yoga Alliance registered teacher status. The first level Jivamukti training is 300 hours. These rigorous trainings are month-long intensives taught by founders Life and Gannon with senior teachers. About four trainings are held each year in different locations around the world. Students are required to have practiced yoga for at least two years and be very familiar with the Jivamukti method. The areas of instruction are philosophy, anatomy, teaching methodology, Sanskrit, pranayama, and satsang, which means community and includes chanting, meditation, and more. The advanced Jivamukti training is an additional 500 hours of apprenticeship, resulting in an 800-hour certification. 

Not Immune to Scandal

Despite its mostly favorable reputation and respected standing in the yoga community, Jivamukti is not immune to the types of scandal that have diminished other yoga styles with charismatic leaders in recent years, most notably Anusara and Bikram. A 2016 lawsuit against a senior Jivamukti teacher alleged that sexual harassment was all but sanctioned by the strict internal hierarchy that rewarded apprentice teachers who demonstrated complete devotion to their mentors. Plaintiff Holly Faurot's lawyers planned to paint a picture of Jivamukti as a cult, according to Michelle Goldberg's in-depth article that appeared in Slate in April 2016. The case was resolved with a confidential out-of-court settlement in June 2016, so this legal strategy remains untested. However, the suit itself has called the culture of Jivamukti's headquarters, encouraged by its founders, into question.  


9 - KRIPALU YOGA  

Kripalu is both a yoga style and a retreat center in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Kripalu is a yoga practice with a compassionate approach and emphasis on meditation, physical healing, and spiritual transformation that overflows into daily life. It also focuses on looking inward and moving at your own pace, making it a good practice for people with limited mobility due to age, weight, illness, or injury.

While most styles of yoga include meditation and breathing, Kripalu yoga places equal importance on the mind, body, and spirit. It's ideal for beginners and is accepting and adaptable to everyone, no matter your age, ability, size, or other circumstance.

For many, Kripalu yoga extends into their daily lives and it can be the source of great spiritual and mental transformation as well as physical health.

This is a very popular style and it's definitely something to consider as you explore yoga.

Basics of Kripalu Yoga

Kripalu is a gentle hatha yoga practice with a compassionate approach. It has an emphasis on meditation, physical healing, and spiritual transformation that overflows from the yoga mat into daily life. Over time, students are taught to observe their thoughts without judging and to accept and love themselves as they are.

In a Kripalu class, each student learns to find their own level of practice on a given day by looking inward. The classes usually begin with pranayama exercises and gentle stretches followed by asana practice and ending with final relaxation.

In classes for beginners, poses are held for a short time as students begin to feel the effects of prana in the body. More advanced classes include longer hold times and, eventually, flow.

At the end of class, Kripalu teachers say Jai Bhagwan instead of namaste.

The two terms essentially have the same meaning, but the former is in Hindi and the latter in Sanskrit.

Because of Kripalu's emphasis on adaptability and acceptance, it is a style that is welcoming to people who feel like they are outside the norm. It's also popular for those who are looking for transformation during difficult times of life or who have injuries or other physical limitations.

The Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health

The name Kripalu is associated both with a style of hatha yoga and a yoga and wellness center in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Both were founded by yoga guru Amrit Desai who came to the United States from India in 1960. Kripalu was named for Desai's teacher, Sri Kripalvananda, a Kundalini yoga master.

After outgrowing two facilities in Pennsylvania, the Kripalu Center began operating out of its current home in the Berkshire mountains of Massachusetts in 1983. The programs at the center continued to expand until 1994. That is when it was revealed that founder Amrit Desai had engaged in inappropriate sexual relations with students. He left the center and the leadership was transferred to a group of senior members who began to rebuild.

Under this new management group, the Kripalu Center began to expand its class offerings to include a wide array of yoga styles and wellness topics. It also began to establish itself as a multi-dimensional retreat destination.

These days, the center offers an extremely diverse course schedule. It often hosts yoga's best-known teachers who lead weekend and week-long workshops. They also offer yoga, massage, and Ayurvedic teacher training.

It has become one of the most popular retreat centers in the United States. 

Is Kripalu Yoga for You?

Kripalu appeals to people who want to work both physically and spiritually to improve their health and sense of well-being. The gentle and individualized approach makes it a good choice for students who can benefit from an adaptive practice. This includes people with arthritis, seniors, and anyone who may be overweight. Kripalu is also a wonderful introductory practice for almost anyone who has never done yoga before. 

10 - KUNDALINI YOGA

The emphasis in Kundalini is on the breath in conjunction with physical movement, with the purpose of freeing energy in the lower body and allowing it to move upwards through all the chakras.

All asana practices make use of controlling the breath, but in Kundalini the exploration of the effects of the breath (also called prana, meaning energy) on the postures is essential. Kundalini exercises are also called kriyas.

Kundalini yoga was brought to a western audience in 1968 when Yogi Bhajan began teaching in California. He founded 3HO (the Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization) in 1969 to introduce Kundalini yoga to a broader population. Before this, Kundalini was only taught in India and was passed down in the guru-student tradition. Although this type of yoga had not previously been offered to the public, Yogi Bhajan felt that everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy its benefits.

What Does Kundalini Mean?

The Kundalini is untapped energy (prana) at the base of the spine that can be drawn up through the body awakening each of the seven chakras. Full enlightenment occurs when this energy reaches the crown chakra at the top of the head. Kundalini energy is often represented as a snake coiled at the bottom of the spine.

Kriyas

Kundalini Yoga asana sequences are called kriyas. Each kriya is preset series of poses that is done with a specific breathing technique and engagement of the bandhas to intensify the effects of the pose. Each kriya is associated with a particular chakra. 

They may consist of rapid, repetitive movements coordinated with a designated breathing method or recitation of a mantra. In other kriyas, poses are held for several minutes, again with the inclusion of pranayama and mantra. Often mudras are also an important part of each kriya.

A personalized Kundalini practice would begin with a numerological analysis and diagnosis of which chakras seem to be blocked. Specific kriyas are then prescribed to help bring balance and move prana through all the chakras. In a group class situation, the teacher will typically pick a set of kriyas that will be beneficial to most people.

What to Expect in a Kundalini Class

A Kundalini class begins with a short chant followed by a warm-up to stretch the spine and improve flexibility. The main work of the class is the kriyas. The class ends with a meditation, which may be accompanied by the teacher playing a large gong, and a closing song.

Kundalini students often wear white clothing and head wraps but don't feel obligated to adopt this style of dress when you take the class. Some kundalinis also use sheepskins instead of yoga mats. Yoga Bhajan recommended this as a way to separate your body from the Earth's magnetic pull. However, it's optional. Even some of the most devoted Kundalini yogis object to this advice on ethical grounds.

Is Kundalini for You?

Kundalini is one of the most spiritual types of yoga. It goes beyond the asanas with its emphasis on opening the chakras through pranayama, meditation, mudras, bandhas, and chanting. However, Kundalini kriyas still can be very intense. Kundalini appeals to people who want a yoga method that stays grounded in the physical body while incorporating all of the traditional tools of a yogi to reach enlightenment. If you're not sure, give a few classes a try to see how they make you feel.

11 - INTEGRAL YOGA 

Integral is a gentle hatha style of yoga based on the ideas and principals of Sri Swami Satchidananda, who sought to give followers guidelines on how to improve their lives. In an attempt to integrate mind, body, and spirit, classes also include pranayama, chanting, and meditation.

Integral yoga follows the teachings of Sri Swami Satchidananda, who came to the United States from India in the 1960s and eventually founded the famed Yogaville Ashram in Buckingham, Virginia and many other yoga institutes. Integral is a gentle, Hatha practice and classes often also include breathing exercises, chanting, kriyas, and meditation.

The Integral method, so called because it seeks to integrate the mind, body, and spirit, is intended to give students the tools they need to live peaceful, healthy, joyful, useful lives. Indeed, Satchidanada’s teachings go beyond the physical practice of yoga postures: He sought to inspire students to find fulfillment in themselves and promote a peaceful existence with others.

Sachidananda is also the author of many books. His translations and interpretations of the Bhagavad Gita and Yoga Sutras of Patanjali make these arcane texts comprehensible to contemporary readers and applicable to modern life.

Integral Yoga Areas of Instruction

Hatha Yoga

The practice of yoga postures (asana), breathing exercises (pranayama), cleansing practices (kriyas) and deep relaxation to strengthen and purify the body.

Raja Yoga

The practice of meditation to balance and control the mind.

Bhakti Yoga

Devotion, manifested through constant love, to a God, the divine, or a spiritual teacher.

Karma Yoga

Selfless service, free from attachment to the idea of the results of these actions.

Jnana Yoga

The intellectual approach, by which a transcendence of the body and mind is achieved through study, self-analysis, and awareness.

Japa Yoga

Repetition of a mantra, a sound vibration with an aspect of the divine.

Is Integral YOGA for You? 

Integral yoga appeals to those who want an approach that addresses their whole life, including the physical, spiritual, intellectual, and interpersonal relationships. Classes tend to be gentle, accessible, and particularly non-competitive and the teachers are usually extremely knowledgeable.

12 - POWER YOGA 

In the mid-1990s, several prominent teachers who were well-trained in traditional yoga were looking for ways to make flow yoga accessible to more people. The resulting classes came to be known by the umbrella term of power yoga.

Power yoga was initially influenced by the intensity of Ashtanga but allowed for variation in the sequencing of poses at the discretion of the teacher. Contemporary power yoga classes are essentially vigorous vinyasa flow.

Power Yoga Class. Assembly/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Power yoga is a general term used to describe a vigorous, fitness-based approach to vinyasa-style yoga. Though many consider it to be "gym yoga," this style of practice was originally closely modeled on the Ashtanga method.

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 different.

With its emphasis on strength and flexibility, power yoga brought yoga into the gyms of America as people began to see yoga as a way to work out.

What to Expect in a Power Yoga Class

Although power yoga classes vary widely from teacher to teacher, you can expect to find some intense flowing yoga with a minimal amount of chanting and meditation. Gyms and health clubs, in particular, have taken up the term as a way to let their clientele know that this is exercise. Prepare to work hard and work up a sweat.

Who Invented Power Yoga?

The term became common during the mid-1990s when two American yoga teachers who had studied with Ashtanga guru Sri K. Pattabhi Jois began to make what they had learned more accessible to Western students. They also wanted to move away from the rigid Ashtanga sequence, which is a set series of poses that are always done in the same order.

Bryan Kest, based in Los Angeles and Beryl Bender Birch, based in New York, are most often credited with the nearly simultaneous invention of power yoga on opposite coasts.

Both were part of the second generation of American Ashtanga students; Kest originally learned from David Williams and Bender Birth from Normal Allen. Williams and Allen were both among Jois's first western students. Kest went on to study with Jois in Mysore, India. Bender Birch, who had previously done Sivananda, Kundalini, and Iyengar yogas, worked with Jois during his trips to the U.S. in the 1980s.

Kest and Bender Birth both used the term power yoga to differentiate the intense, flowing style of yoga they were teaching from the gentle stretching and meditation that many Americans associated with yoga. Bender Birch has said that when she started calling her classes power yoga, she still taught the Ashtanga sequence of poses.

Styles of Power Yoga

Larry Schultz, who studied Ashtanga with Jois beginning in the 1980s, also introduced a form of power yoga at his iconic San Francisco studio, "It's Yoga," in the early 1990s. Schultz broke with Jois's method by mixing together poses from the first three Ashtanga series. Schultz later codified his approach into a style he named rocket yoga. 

Baron Baptiste is another well-known yoga teacher who has successfully established his own style of power yoga, Baptiste Power Vinyasa. Baptiste had also studied Iyengar and Bikram. Using the non-specific term power yoga gave each of these innovators the freedom to draw methods and poses from all their influences simultaneously to create something new.

CorePower Yoga franchises hot yoga studios that use power yoga practices as a fitness workout.


13 - RESTORATIVE YOGA 

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 backbends, 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.

Restorative yoga is a practice that is all about slowing down and opening your body through passive stretching. If you take a restorative class, you may hardly move at all, doing just a few postures in the course of an hour. It is a completely different experience than most contemporary yoga.

The majority of yoga classes are an active practice in which you move from pose to pose, building heat and increasing your strength and flexibility in equal measure.

The general trend in yoga is toward more athletic and acrobatic styles of practice.

During the long holds of restorative yoga, however, your muscles are allowed to relax deeply. It's a unique feeling because props, rather than your muscles, are used to support your body. Restorative classes are very mellow, making them a good complement to more active practices and an excellent antidote to stress.

All Props All the Time

In restorative yoga, props are used extensively to support your body so you can hold poses for longer periods of time. Postures are usually adapted from supine or seated yoga poses with the addition of blocks, bolsters, and blankets to eliminate unnecessary straining.

For instance, a seated forward bend (paschimottanasana) can become restorative by placing a bolster or several folded blankets on top of your legs. This fully supports your forward bend by allowing your entire torso to rest on your props.

Legs up the wall (viparita karani) is a classic restorative pose that you might already know. In this case, the wall acts as a prop to support your legs. Other positions you may be familiar with, such as the reclined goddess pose and supported bridge pose, can also be adapted into restorative poses.

What to Expect in Class

Prepare yourself for deep relaxation when you attend a restorative class. Expect the teacher to arrange for the necessary props to be available for you. The lights may be dimmed and soft music played.

If it is chilly, keep your socks and sweatshirt on since you will not be warming up the body the way you would be in a regular class. In some poses, the teacher may even cocoon you in blankets for extra warmth and coziness.

After you are set up in a pose with all your props, you will hold the pose for an extended period, often up to ten or twenty minutes. Although you are supported, you will definitely still feel the stretching, which will probably help keep you awake.

You will continue to focus on your breath throughout. The teacher may talk you through a meditation or play music, depending on their style. You may only do four or five poses over the course of an entire class.

At the end of the session, your body feels open and refreshed. You may even be a little sore the next day from the deep stretching.

Once you learn the basic set-ups for a few postures, it's easy to do restorative yoga at home. You will need to assemble a few props, but many poses can be done with just a few blankets, which you probably already have.

Is Restorative YOGA for you?

Restorative yoga can be an excellent way to relieve stress and enjoy long, meditative stretches. Consider joining a class to get a feel for the pace before trying it at home. Have patience and enjoy the stillness of your body and mind. It takes some getting used to, but after awhile it becomes easier and you may be amazed at the benefits.


14 - SIVANANDA YOGA 

The first Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center was founded in 1959 by Swami Vishnu-devananda, a disciple of Swami Sivananda. There are now close to 80 locations worldwide, including several ashrams. Sivananda yoga is based on five principles, including the practices of asana, pranayama, and meditation. The mastery of twelve carefully selected poses is at the core of this practice.

Sivananda Yoga comes from the lineage of Swami Sivananda, as brought to the west by his disciple Swami Vishnudevananda in the late 1950s, making this style of practice an important part of yoga's first wave of popularity outside India. 

Sivananda (1887-1963) was well-known in India in the 1930s, when he founded an ashram in Rishikesh. He had previously been a practicing doctor.

Because he spoke English well and wrote many treatises in English, he was sought after by western students who wished to study yoga and Vedanta. He founded the Divine Life Society in 1936 to organize and disseminate his teachings. 

Important Disciples

Sivananda's yoga and philosophies traveled west courtesy of several influential disciples. One was Swami Satchidananda, who founded Integral Yoga. Another was Vishnudevananda, who came to North America in 1957 and soon started the first Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center in Montreal, Canada. The key philosophical points and yoga methodology associated with Sivananda Yoga were the efforts of Vishnudevananda on behalf of further spreading his guru's messages. 

Today there are Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers in major cities in the U.S., western Europe, South America, and Asia, as well as nine ashram retreats.

Philosoph​y

The Sivananda method is based on five principles for optimal health and spiritual growth, as described by Vishnudevananda.

They are:

  • Proper exercise (Asana, focusing on twelve poses (see below) in particular)
  • Proper breathing (Pranayama)
  • Proper relaxation (Savasana)
  • Proper diet (Vegetarian)
  • Positive thinking (Vedanta) and meditation (Dhyana)

What to Expect

A typical class begins with pranayama exercises. After warming up with sun salutations, the focus is on mastery of the twelve basic poses in the following order:

  1. Headstand
  2. Shoulderstand
  3. Plow
  4. Fish
  5. Seated Forward Bend
  6. Cobra
  7. Locust
  8. Bow
  9. Seated Spinal Twist
  10. Crow or Peacock
  11. Standing Forward Bend
  12. Triangle

Savasana closes the class. The 12 basic poses were carefully selected and include inversions, backbends, forward bends, twists, balances, and hamstring stretches. A little of everything, in other words. The poses are ideally done slowly and with control to stretch and strengthen the body as well as open the chakras. As students become proficient in the 12 basic poses, variations may be introduced. 

Is Sivananda for You?

The goal of this practice is to promote physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. The asana system is fairly fixed, so you must enjoy working slowly and methodically to fully master the prescribed poses. An interest in Indian philosophy is also a good indicator that you'll enjoy Sivananda yoga. 

15 - VINIYOGA

Viniyoga is the term used by T.K.V. Desikachar to describe the methodology that his father, revered teacher T. Krishnamacharya, developed late in his life. It is based on an individualized approach to each student, creating a practice that suits his or her unique stage of life and state of health. Even in group classes, Viniyoga is adapted to fit each person's particular needs.

Viniyoga is not the same thing as vinyasa yoga and it is all about adaptation. It takes a holistic, therapeutic approach to teaching yoga that is designed to improve each student's health and well-being.

You can think of Viniyoga as yoga physical therapy or have a personal trainer for your yoga practice. This is because the teacher works one-on-one with a student and tailors the practice specifically for them.

That is why it's perfect if you need specialized attention due to your physical condition, an injury or illness, or any other concerns.

What Is Viniyoga?

Viniyoga is based on the guru/student model in which an experienced teacher works individually with each student. Teachers create a personalized yoga program for students based on factors like health, age, and physical condition. Viniyoga also takes into account any past or current injuries or illnesses.

When you attend your average group yoga class, there tends to be a one-size-fits-all approach. You are expected to make your body fit the poses even though the poses don't always fit your body.

A teacher may ask if there are any injuries, but no in-depth attempt is made to know more about your personal physical condition. Two students could have, for instance, back pain for entirely different reasons. A Viniyoga teacher would offer each student different modifications tailored to the root cause of their problem.

Viniyoga is intended to be adaptable to any person, regardless of physical ability. Due to this, Viniyoga teachers must be highly trained and tend to be experts on anatomy and yoga therapy.

The History of Viniyoga

Viniyoga is the legacy of the great guru Krishnamacharya, whose students included Pattabhi Jois and B.K.S. Iyengar.

These two are arguably the most prominent figures in yoga's dissemination to the west beginning in the 1970s.

Krishnamacharya's son T.K.V. Desikachar carried on his father's teachings as the founder of the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandirum (KYM) in Chennai, India. Here, he began to call his method Viniyoga.

Desikachar died in August 2016. He had not taught publicly for some years before his death due to ill health and dementia. For a time the KYM was led by his son Kausthub. He stepped down in 2013 amid accusations of mental and physical harassment from female students.

Gary Kraftsow, the founder of the American Viniyoga Institute, is the most prominent American proponent of T.K.V. Desikachar's method. Other notable students include Leslie Kaminoff, founder of The Breathing Project in New York City and co-author of Yoga Anatomy, and Chase Bossart.

What to Expect

A Viniyoga practice may include asana, pranayama, chanting, and meditation, depending on the students' needs. Because the practice is so adaptable, it makes yoga available to those with physical limitations, whether through injury, illness, or age.

It can be very gentle but is not exclusively so. If a student is more adept, his practice will be changed to suit him.

There is a strong focus on alignment and poses are often held for a consistent number of breaths with rest in between.

Though Viniyoga can be taught in group classes, it's not a place to try to fade into the background. Your teacher will want to get to know you so that she can offer you personalized instruction.

​​​And so i finish today´s article.

​By now you should be more clarified about the different types and styles of YOGA. The idea of this article that is a bit too long is to eliminate all the doubts or at least the majority of them and from that point, you can choose the Yoga style that you believe its better for you.

For last but not least i would like to ask you to share this amazing article with your connections.

That will help us a lot!

This Yoga flexibility exercise has numerous benefits, it can relieve aches, pain, and make you flexible. Another advantage of these workouts is that you can practice them from the comfort of your homes.

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