Types of Yoga

Types of yoga styles are described here. All styles and types of yoga share the common denominator of providing numerous benefits to body, mind and spirit. In addition to strengthening and toning the body, yogic practices have a soothing, calming effect on the nervous system. Most types of yoga originated in India.

Types of Yoga

types of yogaThe following types of yoga are listed in alphabetical order, not by popularity or benefits.

Ananda - a style of hatha yoga taught by Kriyananda, a student of Parmhansa Yogananda. Focuses on awakening and mastering the chakra energies in order to balance the mental, physical and emotional centers. A relatively gentle approach to yogic practice. For more information, see Autobiography of a Yogi.

Ashtanga - one of the more demanding types of yoga somewhat adapted by what is practiced today as Power Yoga. Students go from one posture to another. This style is typically chosen by more advanced practitioners. more about Ashtanga Yoga

Bhakti - will appeal to the devotional personality. Love and worship are the practices, not specific asanas or postures like other types of yoga. Meditation is emphasized. An example would be the Siddha yoga way.

Bikram - a series of 26 asanas practiced at extremely warm temperatures in order to heat and stretch muscles and joints to greater flexibility. This method was developed by Bikram Choudhury.

Hatha - among the basic types of yoga, Hatha yoga is what is typically learned when just starting out and forms the background for learning more advanced styles.

Integral - developed and taught by Swami Satchidananda includes practices that focus on meditation and on physical postures. Considered by some to be a modern version of traditional types of yoga systems in India.

Iyengar - developed by B.K.S. Iyengar, this style requires concentration on detailed aspects of poses which are considered by many as among the most challenging to achieve of all types of yoga.

Jnana - focuses on transcending the mind through self-knowledge as a result of experience.

Karma - practiced by Mahatma Gandhi and emphasizes service to others, elimination of desire, and non-violence. The goal is harmony and peace.

Kriya - focuses on meditation through techniques for learning breath control and calmness. Emphasis on mental purification to eliminate the bondage of desires and ego. One of the types of yoga only taught through contact with a Kriya teacher.

Kundalini - popularized in the U.S. by Yogi Bhajan. Focuses on stimulating and controlling the flow of Kundalini energy which flows up and down the spine. The practice involves classic types of yoga poses, breath, and meditation.

Tantra - practices that include sexual experience in order to lift the consciousness. Unfortunately, genuine tantric yoga practices have been lost in place of sensual fulfillment.

Mantra - practices of meditation based on repitition of certain sounds in Hindu or Vedic tradition meant to bring about changes of conscousness. One of the meditative types of yoga popularized by repeating the sound "om".

Raja - the process whereby students focus on a single point in order to create a unified concentrated awareness. Discards distractive thoughts in order to bring a state of meditation.

Sivananda - follows structured exercises that include pranayama, asanas and relaxation types of yoga developed by Vishnu-Devananda, author of The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga.

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