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12 Modern Yoga Styles explained
September 1, 2021

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Your Complete Guide to 12 Modern Yoga Styles

Often students send an email inquiring about Yoga Teacher Training and then I ask them which style. Most often students are confused to mention the name of the style. They would end up saying Yoga. 

There are many who have asked me if these Yoga styles are real or just commercial flavours. 

Therefore, I have tried to summarize the most popular methods of Yoga practice systems of the modern world for your better understanding. 

Your complete guide to 12 modern Yoga styles

We haven’t included relatively new styles such as Aqua Yoga, Acro Yoga, Arial Yoga etc. in this list. However, they are also considered beneficial in the practice. 

I would not consider putting them on the same list at the moment, as they are only practice methods at the moment. 

Here is your complete guide to 12 modern Yoga styles. 

1. Hatha Yoga

Translating to “balancing Sun (Ha) and Moon (Tha) energies’ in Sanskrit, Hatha Yoga emphasises asana practice, diet and Kriyas (cleaning system). Using the stillness of the body to create the stillness of the mind is the method used in Hatha Yoga practices. 

Therefore you will see asanas held longer than other methods along with a focus on the diet, Kriyas as well as dropping the ideas of doing the asanas and moving towards being in the asanas. 

Hatha Yoga Style

2. Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga

Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is popularly known as Ashtanga Yoga rejuvenated by Sri T Krishnamacharya and popularised by Sri K Pattabhi Jois. This practice method consists of six series starting from Yoga Chikitsa (Primary Series), NadiShodhana (Intermediate Series), Sthira Bhaga (Advanced A, B, C, D) series of practice methods. 

Each series is a progression to the next series while each asana in the series is a foundation to the next asana. This is more of sadhana (spiritual, inward practice) though it appears a lot physical in the beginning.

Read more about “What is Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga?

Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga Style

3. Vinyasa Yoga

In Sanskrit, ‘vin’ means “to place” and ‘aasa’ means “in a special way.” In the context of yoga, this is popularly known as ‘moving meditation. 

Vinyasa Yoga though is strongly influenced by the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga practice, has grown up as a traditional method of practice on its own. 

It allows the teacher to create customised classes based on the different levels of the students with different themes. 

As it gives room for the teacher to offer creative sequences, the students would not be able to predict the next asana or the next movement. Therefore, it makes the student attentive throughout the practice. 

What is the difference between Ashtanga and Vinyasa Yoga?

Vinyasa Yoga Style

4. Iyengar Yoga

Founded by B.K.S. Iyengar, this type of yoga is focused on alignment, breath control, and precise movements. Though B K S Iyengar always maintained that this is nothing else, but Hatha Yoga, practitioners have associated this form along with his name. 

Iyengar Yoga style also uses props such as straps, blocks, chairs, bolster etc. which not only provides support to beginners but also an extra extension for more advanced students. The practice is all about slow and steady progress.

Iyengar Yoga Style

5. Yin Yoga 

Yin Yoga is one of the soothing ways of practising asanas which works on the deep connective tissues such as fascia, ligaments and tendons in order to inculcate the deeper awareness in the system. 

This kind of practice reduces the stress, relieving tension and creating new patterns in the body-mind system allowing a sattva-based body-mind balance.

6.  Kundalini Yoga

Kundalini Yoga is based on the energy that moves upwards from the first chakra. This energy called Kundalini is dormant in every human being. The Kundalini Yoga techniques include the asanas, breathing, chanting and singing to help the nadis to purify and awaken the kundalini energy to rise upwards.  

7. Bikram Yoga / Hot Yoga

Founded by Bikram Choudhary this yoga asana practice method involves a set of 26 basic postures in a room set to 105 degrees.

Bikram Yoga follows the 80/20 method of breathing, which is taking a deep breath, doing the pose, and exhaling 20 per cent of the air through the nose.

The same principles when used without necessarily following the same sequence that of Bikram Yoga led to the practice of Hot Yoga practice.

8. Restorative Yoga

Restorative Yoga focuses on rest, relaxation, and restoration. As the name suggests, restorative Yoga “restores” the body to its parasympathetic nervous system which helps the body rest, heal, and restore balance. 

In this method of asana practice, you will stay longer from 1 min to 3 min in each asana similar to Yin Yoga without even the work on the connective tissues at the deeper layers. 

This is an easy method to reduce stress, bring calmness to the mind and reduce the restlessness of the system.

Restorative Yoga Style

9. Prenatal Yoga

The process of the body-mind to giving birth to another life is a wonderful journey. Prenatal Yoga is a practice method that is specifically designed for pregnant women who can create awareness not only with their own bodies but also with the life that is inside. 

These specifically designed asanas adapted for the new system of body-mind brings a new layer of awareness and helps in creating required peace, calmness and positive vibes within the system of moms.

10. Anusara Yoga

Anusara School of Hatha Yoga is another form of Hatha Yoga following the principles of the Integral Yoga method developed by John Friend.

This method of course works on the body-breath-mind balance with the focus on the health of the human being. 

11. Jivamukti Yoga

Jivamukti Yoga is based on the five tenets i.e. Shastra, Bhakti, Ahimsa, Nada and Dhyana. This method uses the Vinyasa method of asanas working on the physical, ethical and spiritual layers of the practice.

This style was created by David Life and Sharon Gannon in 1984. 

12. Vini Yoga

Developed by Sri TKV Desikachar under the guidance of his father Sri T Krishnamacharya, Vini Yoga is more of a customised approach to Yoga practice. 

Vini Yoga focuses on differentiation, appropriation and appropriate application. 

This practice method is not limited to only asana, pranayama, bandha practice. It also considered chanting, meditation, personal rituals as well as svadhyaya

Summary: 

All the styles mentioned above from Vinyasa Yoga to Vini Yoga are nothing but different methods of Hatha Yoga.

Hatha Yoga is the root, foundation of all asana-pranayama-bandha practice methods. Depending on different approaches, different methods of practice techniques are formed.

Some styles such as Ashtanga Vinyasa, Vinyasa Yoga have a long history of practice and are termed as traditional yoga practice methods while others such as Jivamukti, Anusara etc are modern yoga practice methods. 

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Author Bio - Yogacharya Rakesh

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