Styles of Hatha Yoga
There are as many styles of Hatha Yoga as there are types of individual bodies in this world. Learning a little about each style will help you find one or more that meet your individual needs. Keep in mind that these descriptions are brief. There is much more to learn about each style than is included here. We encourage you to explore as many styles as possible by trying different classes at first, since personal experience is the best way to determine which style suits you.
Hatha: Practices are typically a basic and classical approach to yogic breathing exercises and postures and was originally intended to prep the body for meditation. Most other physical practices are based on Hatha yoga including Hatha Flow, Prenatal, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Restorative, Viniyoga, Yin Yoga, Iyengar, Anusara, Bikram and Power.
Kundalini: Kundalini yoga is a physical, mental and spiritual discipline for developing strength, awareness, character, and consciousness. Considered an advanced form of yoga and meditation, this constantly moving practice is intended to release the kundalini energy (prana) supply at the base of the spine that can be drawn up through the body awakening each of the seven chakras.
Ashtanga: Ashtanga consists of a sequence of rapidly flowing postures that incorporate each inhale and exhale. (Each series of poses linked by the breath this way is called a vinyasa.) Originating in Mysore, India, the vigorous practice was devised to focus the minds and energy of teenage schoolboys—thus the countless vinyasas. Sri K. Pattabhi Jois brought the style to the U.S. in 1975.
Prenatal: This practice incorporates Hatha yoga postures that have been adapted for expectant mothers. It is tailored to help women in all stages of pregnancy, including getting back in shape post-pregnancy. Prenatal yoga keeps the core strong, assists in maintaining correct posture and helps relieve some of those pregnancy aches and pains. Many experts in Yoga agree prenatal yoga is the best exercise for expectant mothers as it also helps promote and develop good breathing habits, which can help immensely during childbirth.
Viniyoga: Viniyoga is meant to be a highly individualized practice where yogis learn to adapt poses and goals to their own needs and abilities. Vini actually means differentiation, adaptation, and appropriate application. Instead of focusing on stretching to get strong and flexible, viniyoga uses the principles of proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF). PNF simply means warming up and contracting a muscle before stretching it. Gary Kraftsow, founder of the American Viniyoga Institute, says this decreases your chance of injury.
Iyengar: Founded by B.K.S. Iyengar, this style of yoga uses props like blocks, straps, harnesses, and incline boards to get you more perfectly into positions. It is appropriate for all ages and abilities, Iyengar yoga is all about precise alignment and deliberate sequencing.
Therapeutic: Yoga therapy is the adaptation and application of yoga practices and techniques to help those facing health challenges manage their condition, reduce symptoms, restore balance, increase vitality and improve attitude.
Anusara: Anusara was created by John Friend and is based on the a concise set of alignment principles called the "Universal Principles of Alignment™", which is applied to each posture. The specific principles include Muscular Energy and Organic Energy, which are the two complementary forces that provide each pose with a balanced action. Other alignment principles include Spirals and Loops, which help to bring refinement and precision to each pose. Students are guided to express themselves through the poses to their fullest ability.
Bikram: This yoga practice was developed by Bikram Choudhury. It is practiced in a heated room (up to nearly 105 degrees and 40 percent humidity) and includes a series of 26 basic yoga postures, each performed twice.
Power: Adapted from the traditional Ashtanga system, Power is an active and athletic style of yoga pioneered by Beryl Bender Birch and Bryan Kest simultaneously on the East and West coasts of the U.S. during the late '80s. Like Hatha Flow and Vinyasa, Power yoga doesn't include the same sequence of poses each time. It may or may not be practiced in a heated room (85 to 95 degrees).