I am frequently asked about what style yoga I recommend, what my style of yoga is, and what is optimum as a practice.

I have written this article to answer these questions, to shed some light on the many styles of yoga ,  a vast body of wisdom that  is sweeping the world right now.
I hope the information will be interesting – ultimately, I believe the style of yoga for you is the one that you do – PRACTICING is what it is about, and if you feel benefits and personal improvement you are on a path that serves you.

Regarding my style for teaching yoga– I started my studied with B. K S. Iyengar, in India, and continued delving into many styles after that – I am certified in Anursara style and Kundalinin style and have studied many other styles of yoga – Ashatange, Power, Bikram Vinyasa and whatever I could find near me. I just loved it all.

My classes are really a combination of what I consider important and relevant to the people attending the class  ( unless I am teaching a Kundalini class – then I stick to the sets by Yogi Bhajan ), hence I call my style of Yoga Hatha Yoga.

Regarding what style I recommend – I am a firm believer that the space the teacher holds is what is vital, especially for beginners.  The student must connect and feel supported and understood by the teacher.  When this bond is set properly, the soil is ripe for growth and progress. This invisible ingredient transcends the style of yoga as two teachers coming from the same lineage can have a hugely different approach to the art of teaching, and how to relate to the students attending the class. As a student, you want to walk away from a class feeling you learned something, and that you have benefited from being in that class.

It is the teachers job to expose the gold inside the student, not show the student that they are great. After all the symbol for yoga is the lotuss blossoming in the mud, that journey is the essence of the practice.

There are many, many styles of yoga – the ones I listed are the most popular at this time ( to my knowledge ) and  most of them are Hatha yoga ( physical practices ).  At the end of the article I included a few other styles that emphasize other practices as the teachings –  each of us is unique and different styles and paths are suitable for different people.
Remember that yoga means Yoking or linking Body Mind and Spirit –  whatever you do that integrates you, brings you into greater balance and  supports your state of well being,  that path leads to living  life fully, that path can serve you, that path may be right for you.

STYLES OF YOGA

ANUSARA YOGA

Was founded by John Friend in 1997. it is a powerful Hatha Yoga practice mixed with a tantric philosophy that is symbolized by a “celebration of the heart”.
The classes are often physically challenging with a poetic overtone of philosophy and celebration used to express where and  how to approach the practice. The emphasis is on a combination of technique and emotional devotional overtones. There is a sense of joy that pervades the community.
For more information check out www.anusarayoga.com

ASHTANGA YOGA
Comes from the ancient text titled Yoga Kormunta, and were taught to Pattabhi Jois around 1927, who has been teaching this form of yoga ever since and has been the source for this practice becoming very popular in the west.

Though somewhat light on meditation, Ashtanga yoga is an exactly structured, physical form of practice,  fast moving and intense, proving to be one of the more demanding forms of yoga. The poses are a set sequence of asanas, synchronized with the breath and always preformed in the same order. Students move in a quick yet natural flow, through a combination of sun salutation poses followed by standing poses, then seated, backbends, inversions and twisting poses. The result can be improved stamina, strength and flexibility. Ashtanga is becoming increasingly popular with athletes and people in reasonably good condition.
www.Ashtanga.com is one of many websites on this style.

BIKRAM YOGA
Is performed in a room heated to 95 – 105 degrees. Developed by Bikram Choudhury , this style of yoga focuses on 26 poses, which are performed in a set series that warms and stretches the muscles ligaments and tendons. .(all poses are repeated twice and held for a specific amount of time) A typical Bikhram class begins with breathing, then standing poses, then backbends, forward bends and twists. At the end of class breath of fire is performed to fully cleanse out the lungs.
www.bikramyoga.com

HATHA YOGA
Hatha Yoga is really the wording for that part of yoga that addresses the physical practices of yoga

All styles of yoga that address the physical body (all the listings in this article) are “Hatha yoga” as they are that part of yoga that addresses the physical body.
Yoga has eight limbs, only one of which, asana, involves doing yoga poses. That is the part that is Hatha Yoga. When you do Iyengar, this is hatha yoga; when you do Ashtanga, this is hatha yoga, When you do Bikram Yoga this is Hatha yoga too.

I suppose it can be like taking the word “food” and then talking abut Chinese versus French cooking – they are all ways to prepare food.
In yoga studios Hatha yoga is sometimes used as a label for a gentle  yoga class where the approach is less strenuous physically. There is  more attention on breathing and allowing the poses to work on the body

IYENGAR YOGA
Created by B.K.S Iyengar is based on the concept of giving primacy to the physical alignment of the body in the poses. This method is known for its use of props, such as belts, pillows, chairs, blankets and blocks as aids in attaining ideal alignment and performing a perfect asana,, The props assist enormously to help open the body when it is not yet open enough.

This style is wonderful for recovery from injuries and for in depth understanding of optimal alignment and correcting structural weaknesses.
This is also probably the most demanding style of yoga to get certified in as the training is long and in depth, so any certified Iyengar teacher will be well accomplished and well educated in this style to teach it.

It is firmly bases on the traditional eight limbs of yoga as exposes by Patanjali in the yoga sutras, emphasizing the development of strength, flexibility, and balance as well as concentration and meditation.
www.Iyengar-yoga.com

JIVAMUKTI YOGA
This method was created by David Life and Sharon Gannon in 1986. They named this practice Jivamukti because they wanted the students to be reminded of the ultimate aim of the practice, spiritual enlightenment and awareness.’

It is vigorously physical and intellectually stimulating practice combined with an equally strong foundation in the ancient spiritual traditions of yoga.
www.jivamukti.com

KRIPALU YOGA
Is an approach to Hatha yoga which was created by Yogi Amrit Desai.

Rooted in the ancient Vedic scriptures and teachings of India and based on Patanjali’s sutras and the eight limbs of yoga, Kripalu Yoga integrates the body the mind and the emotions thought gentle meditative yoga postures.

Kripalu means compassion and acknowledges and honors each person’s uniqueness. This practice teaches how to tune into our inner wisdom so that we can better know our own bodies, and develop self accept by being present in the moment and accepting “what is”.
www.kripalu.org

KUNDALINI YOGA

This style of yoga places great emphasis on chanting and breathing but also included many poses and movements that are done for set periods of time. Each physical exercise is done in coordination with breath, eye site placement and possibly hand mudras to stimulate glands and organs in the body, stimulate the brain and awaken states of consciousness.

It is an intense powerful form of yoga, with cathartic effects on people at times. It focuses on awakening the kundalini energy located at the base of the spine and sending it moving up the spine to the brain for a sublime state of ecstasy and awareness.
www.kundaliniyoga.com

POWER YOGA
Power yoga is a general term used in the West to describe a vigorous, fitness-based approach to vinyasa-style yoga. Most power yoga is closely modeled on the Ashtanga style of practice. The term “power yoga” came into common usage in the mid 1990s, when several yoga teachers were looking for a way to make Ashtanga yoga more accessible to western students. Unlike Ashtanga, power yoga does not follow a set series of poses. Therefore, any power yoga class can vary widely from the next. What they have in common is an emphasis on strength and flexibility. The advent of power yoga heralded yoga’s current popularity, as people began to see yoga as a way to work out. Power yoga brought yoga into the gyms of America.

Siddha Yoga
For those of you who have read the book” eat, pray love” a current best seller, I suspect the writer was a followers of Gurumayi – who is the spiritual head of this movement.
Siddha Yoga is a style of yoga which focuses on discovering the Self, or inner consciousness, in all humans and in everything. Followers of Siddha Yoga aim to help every human realize and experience that all humans have a perfect and divine inner Self and that an end to human suffering and the attainment of supreme bliss can be achieved. It is important in Siddha Yoga that you honor, worship and meditate on your inner Self, realizing that God dwells within you, and that you see the inner Self and God in all others and in everything.

Siddha Yoga is comprised of the following main elements:

  • Meditation. Siddha Yoga involves silent meditation which focuses the attention on a mantra, such as the mantra Om Namah Shivaya, or on the flow of breath.
  • Chanting. Siddha Yoga involves the practice of chanting Sanskrit mantras. These mantras can be either Nama Sankirtana, which are chants made up of short Sanskrit phrases, or swadhyaya, which are chants comprised of longer texts.
  • Seva. Seva is defined as selfless service and is practiced through volunteer work.
  • Dakshina. Dakshina refers to a donation of money or a gift made to the Guru as an expression of appreciation.
  • Satsang. Satsang refers to group meetings or programs comprised of devotees or other yoga practitioners gathering to participate in talks, meditation and chanting.

www.siddhayoga.org

TANTRA YOGA
Tantra Yoga is one of the most misunderstood styles of yoga, having largely become associated with sexual ritual. In truth, Tantra Yoga involves the shakti side of spiritual life, and it focuses on awakening and harmonizing the male and female aspects within each of us in order to spiritually awaken and realize the whole universe as an expression of Shakti, the Cosmic Mother.

Tantra Yoga deals with expanding all levels of consciousness, whether waking, dreaming or sleep states, in order to unveil and realize the Supreme Reality. The practice of Tantra Yoga involves breathing exercises (pranayama), contemplation, visualization and the repetition of mantras. Through these practices, one can learn to identify the factors which influence the thoughts and feelings and to transcend obstacles to evolution resulting from intolerance, ignorance, selfishness and an attachment to our animal nature. Thoughts and feelings are refined while peace, harmony and order is restored within one’s self.

VINYASA YOGA
May be defined as breath synchronized movement. Vinyasa Yoga is a style of yoga which emphasizes the breath. Classic yoga poses, or asanas, are led by the breath, flowing from one to another in conjunction with the breathing. The practitioner of Vinyasa Yoga follows the breath and is moved by the air.
A typical Vinyasa practice may begin with sun salutations which move into more intense stretching, balancing each pose with a counter pose. Vinyasa yoga has a flowing style as individuals move more quickly through the poses rather than holding them for longer periods of time as with other yoga styles. As a result, this style of yoga is often a more active one. Vinyasa yoga can improve flexibility and body tone, increase energy levels, release tension, and promote relaxation.