Types of Yoga

Hatha yoga is the foundation of several different yoga techniques and styles. A basic hatha class is probably the best introduction to yoga, but you may find that another style suits you better. The following are types of yoga commonly taught in the United States. Within each style, a teacher may also have his own variation or focus.

Ananda. Uses gentle poses to release tension and prepare the body for meditation and increased self-awareness. Students repeat silent affirmations while holding postures.

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Ashtanga. A vigorous style of yoga that uses rapid repetition of a series of postures, in order of increasing difficulty.

Bikram. Yoga practiced in sauna-like rooms heated to at least 100°F; Bikram philosophy teaches that sweating helps to release toxins in the body. People with sensitivity to extreme heat may want to avoid this style, and people who take insulin should note that insulin can be absorbed into the bloodstream more quickly in high temperatures.

Integral. A spiritual practice using gentle postures, chanting, and meditation to develop the individual as a whole.

Integrative yoga therapy. Often taught at hospitals or as part of a healthy lifestyle program, integrative yoga is usually combined with diet and exercise counseling to help people achieve better overall health or handle specific health problems.

Iyengar. Uses props such as belts, benches, and blocks to help attain greater extension and better alignment in poses and breathing exercises.

Kripalu. Aims for a state of “meditation in motion,” in which the body takes over and spontaneously performs movements to release mental and bodily tension. This state is attained through gradually increasing both the intensity of meditation and the length of time poses are held.

Kundalini. This type of yoga blends postures and breathing exercises with Sanskrit chanting and meditation.