Major Styles of Yoga

Lee Sooyeon

Recently, I started learning yoga again as the COVID-19 situation got better. Thinking of the first day of yoga, I remember being very surprised myself that there are so many different types of yoga out there. Today I would like to share some of these,

The types of yoga differ whether you want a more physically demanding class or an easy, relaxing, meditative class. Each style is quite different from the others, and also depending on the teacher. Before starting a yoga class, knowing the major types can help you decide which one to try first. So, let me introduce some of the major types of yoga.

  • Vinyasa Yoga

Vinyasa means “to place in a special way” and, in this case, the way means ‘yoga postures’. Vinyasa yoga is the often considered the most athletic yoga style. Vinyasa was adapted from ashtanga yoga in the 1980s. Many types of yoga can also be considered vinyasa flows such as ashtanga, power yoga, and prana. In vinyasa classes, the movement is coordinated with your breath and movement to flow from one pose to another. Vinyasa styles can vary depending on the teacher, and there can be many types of poses in different sequences. I love Vinyasa because the styles differ depending on the teacher, which means it feels new to me all the time.

  • Hatha Yoga

The Sanskrit term “hatha” is an umbrella term for all physical postures of yoga. Originally, Hatha yoga simply refers to all the other styles of yoga that are grounded in a physical practice. However, there are other branches of yoga such as kriya, raja, and karma yoga that are separate from the physical based yoga practice. Hatha yoga is usually paced slower than other yoga styles, which makes it appropriate for beginners to try. Hatha classes today are a classic approach to breathing and exercises. If you are brand-new to yoga, I recommend you start Hatha first.

  • Ashtanga Yoga

In Sanskrit, ashtanga means “Eight Limb path.” In India, people gather to practice this form of yoga together at their own pace. Vinyasa yoga stems from Ashtanga as the flowing style linking breath to movement. Ashtanga yoga involves a very physically demanding sequence of postures, so I would not recommend this for a beginner.

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