Types of Yoga

March 4, 2021 |

Read Time: 7 minutes

Yoga is much more than a form of exercise for the body. While it works wonders for the physical and physiological systems, it has a significant impact on the mind too. The purpose of yoga is to unify the body and mind with the divine. All the body movements, breathing techniques and meditation practices are designed to achieve this goal.

Type of Yoga

There are many types of yoga being offered at yoga centers and online platforms. Yoga has been practiced in the Indian subcontinent for thousands of year. It gained popularity in the United States of America in the With new varieties and names being added to this ever growing list, it can be confusing to tell what might work best for you.

Here are five types of yoga that you might come across and what you could expect from the practice:-

  • Hatha Yoga – One of the most commonly offered course in a yogashala, the word hatha in Sanskrit translates to force in the English language. It a practice that involves holding the asanas for counts or breaths. A Hatha yoga practice focuses on poses and aligning the body and mind through holding the pose. Different breathing techniques can be used for different asanas. Typically, the practice begins with a set of warm up stretches. These may be followed by a few rounds of suryanamaskaras, after which there will be more poses. The class will end with pranayama and a short meditation. Each yogashala will have its own flow for a hatha yoga class and might vary depending on the average age in the class and the abilities of each practitioner. The duration of one class may be anywhere between and 45 to 90 minutes. This type of yoga is beginner friendly yet challenging. Choose this type if you are in relatively good health and want to practice a traditional form of yoga.
  • Gentle Yoga – As the name suggests, this type of yoga is designed to be easy on both body and mind. The word ‘gentle’ here is relative and broad term that can be applied to a practice that restorative and not as intense as Hatha Asanas are practiced at a slower pace with more emphasis on breathing. This is an excellent place to begin if you are scared to try anything too intense, or if you want to slowly build your practice. It is also a great type of yoga for seniors as it is gentler on the joints and help stretch stiff muscles. A typical gentle yoga class will include asanas or a flow followed by longer pranyama and meditation sessions. Props are also included in the practice to ease into and hold poses. Those with injuries should definitely choose gentle yoga practice over others. If calm, stress free and relaxed is what you are looking for in your yoga practice, then gentle yoga is for you.
  • Power Yoga – A recent entrant to the growing world of yoga, Power Yoga is more challenging than the other two types discussed so far. With so much attention being given to one’s looks and weight loss, yoga has been adapted to address just that. Power Yoga evolved in the 1990’s in the United States of America and spread across the globe. The practice is intense, fast paced and challenging for both body and mind. A typical practice will include fast paced vinyasa flow where you focus on stamina and strength. The trainer decides the flow for each class. This is purely fitness oriented and may not include pranayama or meditation. As you can guess, a good level of fitness is a prerequisite for this practice. If you are an athlete or practice any form of rigorous physical exercises regularly, then give this a try. However, if you are not athletically inclined or have not exercised everyday for more than few months, try some of the other types mentioned above.
  • Aerial Yoga – Aerial yoga is yet another new addition to the world of yoga. It is a low impact version of asanas done with the help of hammocks suspended from the ceiling. Popularized in the USA in the 2000s, this is the latest fitness to take social media by storm. The hammocks that are used in this practice are made with material that can carry more than 300 kilograms of weight. Using the sling helps get into postures more easily, making some of the advanced postures more accessible to a beginner. However, it is extremely important to have a well experienced trainer to guide you through the practice.

Yoga Meditation

These are just four out of the many types of yoga that are on offer today. There is something for everyone. But, the terms mentioned here cover a broad range of styles. Every yoga school or teacher will have their own approach towards yoga and variations are bound to be there. But, each body has its own physical strengths and limitations. Make sure to do your research and take trial classes. Consult with your doctor in case of injuries or other health issues before picking a class for yourself. It is best to begin with a gentle practice to avoid injury.

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Ms. Mimi Partha Sarathy

Founder, Managing Trustee and Sr. Yoga Teacher Sri Krishna Wellness Yoga Centre

Bengaluru, Karnataka, India