Popular Yoga Styles


In the very late 19th century, yoga traveled from India to the West and introduced a holistic approach to exercise that emphasizes the tuning of the mind and soul.
Since its arrival, yoga has evolved into a variety of popular styles, some rooted in tradition and others taking a more creative approach, helping millions live healthier, happier lives.


Anusara yoga

For who?

Those seeking a positive and lighthearted environment.

People wanting an emotional yoga experience.


Means “to flow with grace”.
Aims to connect practitioners with their inner joy, creativity and playfulness.

What to expect?

Music during classes is common and teachers tend to talk more than in other types of yoga.
row he?

The routine and strict guidelines appeal to yogis who like a sense of order and accuracy.
An uplifting and flowing style of yoga. Classes tend to be friendly and full of laughter.
Founded by American yogi John Friend in 1997.

Ashtanga yoga


Core and muscular strength.
“Yoga is about awakening. Yoga is about creating a life that brings more beauty and more love into the world.” – John Friend


People looking for a physical challenge.
Vigorous and demanding.
Aims to synchronize breathing and movement to produce an internal heat to purify the body.

What to expect?

Classes are often taught in Sanskrit, the language of yoga.

For who?

Yogis who want a physically demanding class.
Classes tend to be fast-paced when a series of poses are performed in a precise, sequential order, linked together with breathing.
Developed and popularized by Sri K Pattabhi Jois in the late 1940s.

Balance and coordination.
Did you know? There are over 250 poses, known as asanas that comprise the syllabus.

Do not take yourself too seriously and embrace your playful side.


  • Core strength.
  • Flexibility.

Did you know? The practice incorporates audible throat breathing known as ujjayi, which should sound like the ocean when done correctly.

“Ashtanga yoga is 99% practice; 1% theory. Practice, practice and all is coming.” – Sri K Pattabhi Jois

Bikram yoga

Every class features the same 26 poses and takes place in a 1050F/40°C room with 40% humidity.

Be patient. It takes a lot of practice to perfect all the poses in the Ashtanga sequence.

People who do not mind heat.
Attributes Great for weight-loss.
Aims to move fresh, oxygenated blood to 100% of your body.
Improves circulation.
Releases toxins.
Did you know? Introduced by Bikram Choudhury in 1973.
Most classes last 90 minutes and can burn more than 700 calories.
Many yogis claim it is an addictive practice, which explains the devoted following.
For who?

“You’re never too old, never too bad, never too late and never too sick to start from the scratch once again.” – Bikram Choudhury

Perfect for Detail-oriented yogis beginners. because of its focus on alignment, anatomy and movement.
Poses tend to be held for long periods allowing the practitioner to relax, balance and breathe in the posture.
Aims to unite the body, mind and spirit.
What to expect?

lyengar yoga

The practice of precision, lyengar focuses heavily on structural alignment of each posture.
Developed by B.K.S lyengar in 1975.

Can help with neck or back problems.
Dress lightly and bring plenty of water and a towel.

Alleviates anxiety and fatigue.
Did you know? B.K.S. lyengar was a favorite among celebrities and taught Queen Elizabeth of Belgium how to do a headstand when she was 85 years old.
Lots of standing and balancing poses, often with the aid of props such as blocks, chairs and straps.

Vegans and vegetarians.
People ready to apply yogic philosophy to their daily lives.
A spiritual practice.
Means “liberation while living”, which is the ultimate aim of the practice.
What to expect?

It is an intense, flowing practice, so get ready to challenge yourself.
“It is through the alignment of the body that I discovered the alignment of my mind, self, and intelligence.” – B.K.S. lyengar

Jivamukti yoga

A lifestyle rather than a form of exercise. It is based around compassion and kindness for all beings, and the main teachings revolve around animal rights and environmentalism.
Emerged in 1984 from David Life and Sharon Gannon’s famous New York City studio.

Be creative with your props. If you do not have a yoga block, use a pile of books. If you do not have a yoga strap, use a belt.

Sense of community.

“You cannot do yoga. Yoga is your natural state. What you can do are yoga exercises, which may reveal to you where you are resisting your natural state.” – Sharon Gannon

People seeking a deeper spiritual experience.
Nearly anyone regardless of age, fitness and experience.
Features constantly moving, invigorating poses.
Aims to release Kundalini, the untapped energy believed to sit at the base of the spine.
What to expect?

Spirituality and slow-paced, back-centric poses.

Kundalini yoga

For who?

Intense exercisers including runners and endurance athletes.

Although all yoga styles have a spiritual core, Kundalini is one of the schools with the strongest focus on spirituality and mindfulness.
Yogi Bhajan brought Kundalini yoga to the West in 1968.

Promotes a healthier and kinder lifestyle.
Did you know? Classes typically follow a theme drawn from the “Focus of the Month” (set by the founders), explored through music, chanting, meditation or breathing exercises.

Take time to learn the principles and philosophy behind this practice.

Enhances mind and body awareness.
“The mind become[s] a monster when it becomes your master. The mind is an angel when it is your servant.” – Yogi Bhajan

People aiming to lose weight.
Physically demanding and fast-moving.
Aims to challenge and relax the mind and body.
What to expect?

Classes are likely accompanied by upbeat music.
For who?

Power yoga

A fitness-based practice with poses moving swiftly for a physically challenging cardio workout.
The term was developed in the 1980s by Bryan Kest and Beryl Bender Birch.
Helps connect with one’s inner self.
Did you know? Teachers and practitioners are encouraged to wear white clothing to nourish light and divinity.

Keep your head and spine warm during meditation with a wrap or shawl to help release the Kundalini energy and keep your mind focused.

Increases cardiovascular circulation.

Lowers cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
Did you know? It is grounded in Ashtanga yoga but is more flexible, allowing teachers to teach poses in any order.

“Everybody wants to be pretty because that’s what they’ve been told will make them feel good even though there’s no proof that people who are prettier are healthier and happier. So why don’t we just cut to the chase and go straight to what makes us feel good?” – Bryan Kest

Anyone seeking Can be the good respite from a for people high-pressure with injuries lifestyle. or illnesses.
Allows practitioners to completely relax and rest.
Aims to heal the mind and body through passive stretching poses.
What to expect?

Restorative yoga

A slow-paced practice. A class typically only involves a handful of poses and props such as bolsters, blocks and blankets are often used to eliminate unnecessary straining.
Popularized by physical therapist Judith Hanson Lasater who has taught yoga since 1971.
As the poses move rapidly it can be beneficial to have some previous yoga experience.

Calms the body and can lower heart rate and blood pressure.

In class, the lights may be dimmed and calm music played. Do not be surprised if the teacher covers you in blankets for extra warmth and comfort during certain poses.
For who?

Classes tend to be fast-paced with little focus on the finer points of each pose. Therefore it is best suited to experienced yogis.

“Yoga is not about touching your toes, it’s about what you learn on the way down.” – Judith Hanson Lasater
A constantly moving practice, so perfect for people struggling to sit still.
With its smooth and almost dance-like moments, it is also known as flow yoga.
The emphasis is on linking each pose with an exhalation or inhalation.
What to expect?

It is a physically challenging, flowing practice so expect to get your heart pumping.
For who?

People wanting to complement an active life with a relaxed practice.

Vinyasa yoga

Vinyasa is an umbrella term for a range of yoga styles, but it commonly describes classes focusing on matching movement with breath.
Indian Master Krishnamacharya (1888-1989), known as the “father of modern yoga” is widely considered the architect of Vinyasa as we know it today.

Ideal for injury or stress rehab.
Did you know? Each pose can be held for up to twenty minutes, allowing the practitioner to drop into a stress-free state.

If you are easily distracted by surroundings, use an eye mask during practice.

Builds lean muscles throughout the whole body.

“Teach what is inside you, not as it applies to you, to yourself, but as it applies to the other.” – Tirumalai Krishnamacharya

Athletes looking to stretch without exhausting themselves for future training sessions.
Typically practiced sitting or lying down on the floor.
Aims to find stillness and cool down the body.

Yin yoga

A passive, slow-paced style focusing on seated and supine poses that are held for longer periods of time.
Introduced by martial arts expert Paulie Zink in the late 1970s.

Poses are typically held for between two and twenty minutes.
3ho.org anusarayoga.com dailyburn.com doyouryoga.com ecorazzi.com elephantjournal.com ekhartyoga.com fitnesshealth 101.com goodreads.com huffingtonpost.com independent.co.uk livescience.com livestrong.com magazine.foxnews.com mindbodygreen.com mnn.com

Calms and purifies the mind and body.
Did you know? Has got a lot in common with Ashtanga, but is much more flexible as it allows teachers to freely mix up the order of the poses.
Tips Ii

Do not give up if a class does not work for you. Classes can vary greatly, so you might have to try a few before finding the perfect one for you.

“The most important thing to me is not a static posture, but the essence of the posture.” – Paulie Zink
Calms the mind.

Rather than strengthening muscles (yang), the style targets deep tissues such as fascia and connective tissue (yin).
Did you know? Yin aims to complement more vigorous yang exercises such as running or cycling. If one focuses only on the yang, it is believed that the body can suffer burnout.
Yin = passive Yang = active

It can be challenging for both mind and body to hold each pose for a long time, so if you are new to the practice, start holding each pose for one minute and gradually extend the time as you progress.


Gannon, S. & Life, D. 2002. Jivamukti Yoga: Practices for Liberating Body and Soul

Ballantine Books: New York Isaacs, N. 2014. The Little Book of Yoga

Chronicle Books: San Francisco McCrary, M. 2013. Pick Your Yoga Practice: Exploring and Understanding Different Styles of Yoga

New World Library: California Smith, J. 2015. lyengar Yoga Lorenz Books: London


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