What is the difference between different types of yoga?

If you are looking into taking up yoga, you'll already know there are various types. Or perhaps you've started with one style and felt it wasn't quite right for you, then take pleasure in knowing there are others you can try. So how do you know where to start? It could be as simple as whether you'd prefer faster moves in your session or a focus on meditation. The thought of doing any form of exercise in a room as hot as a sauna could be off-putting, so you'll know which style to avoid! Below we've outlined the different styles of yoga so that you can make up your own mind:


Most yoga classes in the West can be referred to as hatha, as it simply means yoga that teaches physical postures. With a hatha yoga class, you'll be introduced to basic poses and be left feeling relaxed with tensions released in your muscles. If you're looking for a session that will work up a sweat or requires more challenging poses, you'll probably want to look at other styles.


This is one of the most popular forms of yoga and is physically demanding. Sessions perform exactly the same poses in exactly the same order and the poses are moved through by linking your breath to every movement. This is an ancient style of yoga, brought to the West and popularised in the 1970s.


Vinyasa in Sanskrit means "flow", which highlights what this type of yoga is all about. The movements are fluid and choreographed so that poses transition easily. It's fairly intense and it differs from many styles of yoga as no two classes are the same.


Also known as "hot yoga", Bikram is a school of yoga where students can go deeper into their poses due to the heated room the session is held in. Many people think that the heat helps with weight loss due to the sweating it causes, but the heat is actually used for the muscle stretch. The sequence of 26 poses are the same every session and last around 90 minutes. It has gained popularity in recent years but it was actually 30 years ago that it was developed. If you're looking for this style of yoga, note that studios that follow Bikram Choudhury's exact sequence of poses in the exact way he completes them can call themselves a Bikram yoga studio. Otherwise, it's simply "hot yoga". 


Probably the most meticulous form of yoga as it requires you to find proper alignment in your poses. It therefore gives you a mental workout as helps with a lot of bodily injuries. To help you pay complete attention to finding this alignment, sessions include yoga props like blocks, blankets, bolsters, ropes and straps.


These classes also use props like blocks and blankets to allow students to get into poses without exerting any effort, and it?s therefore a very relaxing form of yoga. It?s perfect for calming and rejuvenating the mind.


This form of yoga is fairly new as it was developed in 1997. It differentiates itself from the more ancient forms of yoga by focussing on its ?goodness? outcome. During a session, students complete poses that open their hearts and experience grace, which allows their inner goodness to shine through. Anusara is therefore a form of yoga that works both body and mind. So there you have it! You might find a style that suits you straight away or you could enjoy trying all styles until you find your perfect one. I personally recommend Jivamukti Yoga to all my friends and family who want to enjoy all the benefits yoga has to offer. By Anne Bridges

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