Yoga 101: Part 2: Today’s Most Popular Styles Of Yoga by Lisa Richards (republished with permission.)
Now that we have covered the history of Yoga, it is time to explore some of the most popular ways in which people enjoy Yoga in the twenty first century.
These include, but are not limited to, Anusara, Ashtanga, Bikram, Hatha, Hot Yoga, Iyengar, Restorative and Vinyasa . Let’s break these different styles down and find out what each entails.
Anusara A relative newcomer to the ever-expanding world of Yoga, anusara was created by an American yogi named John Friend in 1997. Anusara works on the principle that every human being is filled with an inherent goodness, and through the use of physical practice, they can work to free their hearts, experience joy and allow their inner virtue to come to the fore. Anusara classes are known for being rigorous and challenging both for the body and for the mind.
Ashtanga Ashtanga is a style of Yoga that was bought to the West and made popular by Pattabhi Joi in the 1970s. Inspired by ancient Yoga teachings, it is a fairly rigorous process of following specific sequences of postures that are focused on breathing. A very rigid style of Yoga, these poses are performed in exactly that same order every time, and Ashtanga can be a very physically demanding and sweat inducing method.
Bikram Bikram Yoga is a style of Yoga that was developed roughly thirty years ago by Bikram Choudhury. The unique nature of Bikram is that the classes take place in rooms that have been artificially heated, leading participants to sweat heavily whilst following a strict sequence of twenty six poses. Though there has been some notable controversy involving Choudhury’s mission to sue studios who do now exactly follow his trademarked routine, Bikram has become one of the most well know and popular styles of Yoga in recent times.
Hatha Hatha Yoga is a non-specific term for any practice that utilises physical poses and postures. The overwhelming majority of classes taught in the West can be classed as Hatha, and the common tone of a session generally involves being given a gentle introduction to some of the common and less strenuous Yoga poses. Hatha is an ideal place to start for Yoga beginners, ensuring a relaxed and low difficulty level workout but guaranteeing the feeling of having loosened your body for the better.
Hot Yoga Hot Yoga is essentially the same type of work out as Bikram, with the key difference between the two being that classes calling themselves Hot Yoga classes can deviate and mix up the posture sequence that has been trademarked by Bikram Choudhury for his specific brand of Yoga. It is still conducted in heated rooms and you will still sweat profusely whilst exercising.
Iyengar Iyengar Yoga is named for prominent Yoga teacher BKS Iyengar. It is a form of Hatha yoga with a particular emphasis on the correct implementation of postures (asanas). Where necessary, this can involve the use of props such as blocks, belts and blankets to facilitate improved technique.
Kundalini Sometimes known as Iaya Yoga, Kundalini is based on work by Sivananda Saraswati in the 1930s. It was originally a closely guarded secret, practiced by only a handful of people. However, from 1969 onwards it was popularized by Yogi Bhajan. This is a more spiritual form of Yoga, with a greater emphasis on breathing techniques, chanting and meditation.
Restorative Restorative Yoga is a relaxing and low maintenance style of Yoga that is perfect for those who want to feel invigorated and soothed without having to exert a high level of effort. Students use props such as blankets and blocks to assume suitable postures and feel the benefit of them without having to cope with the strain of holding the pose unaided. Restorative Yoga can help to rejuvenate the body and is often staged at studios on a Friday night to help people rewind after a long hard week at work.
Satyananda Taught at the Bihar School of Yoga, Satyananda Yoga is a systematic approach to developing a healthy body and a clear and focused mind, leading to a sense of being more at ease with yourself and the world around you.
Vinyasa Derived from the Sanskrit word meaning ‘flow’, Vinyasa Yoga classes are distinguishable for a very fluid, movement intensive style of exercise. The skilled Vinyasa teachers design and choreograph their lessons for poses to transition smoothly and almost effortlessly from one to another, and the use of music is extremely popular to maintain a rhythmic movement throughout. The demand and intensity of the style is comparable to Ashtanga, but Vinyasa as a whole is much more flexible, with routines varying from class to class. Vinyasa is an ideal choice for those who like to mix things up rather than stick to a solid schedule.
As you can see, there are a plethora of different Yoga style options for you to explore and choose from. It is a matter of testing the waters with a handful of varied types and finding the style that best suits your lifestyle. It is so important to find the style that fits your day-to-day routine. Once you do, you will find that Yoga can become a truly enjoyable and integral part of your life.
This is Part 2 of the Yoga 101 Series. We will share the remaining sections of this article, which include "Today’s Most Popular Styles Of Yoga," "Scientific Proof That Yoga Improves Your Health," and "References & Further Reading." You may also read this article in it's entirety now.
This article is contributed by Lisa Richards, a published author, health consultant and expert in digestive health.