A Beginner Guide to Popular Yoga Styles with their Benefits

Girl standing for popular styles of yoga

Yoga has evolved from the beginning of time into different styles by different yogis. It’s a great dilemma for new persons which style of yoga suited best for them.

While almost all styles using the same physical postures (asana), breathing exercises (pranayama), meditation techniques and different practices.

Now then, How to differentiate among different yoga styles?

Well, Yoga style’s theme and way of teaching can let you distinguish your favorite one among them.

So after reading this article, you can choose best-suited yoga style for you. we classify different yoga style on the basis of – its Basics, what to expect in class, Tips for class & Benefits.

1. Ashtanga Yoga

Founder: K.Pattiabhi Jois  in Year: 1940

  • Ashtanga is the Eight-limb path of Yoga.
  • Ashtanga Yoga consists 3 series of Yoga asana – primary, secondary and advanced. Sequencing of these 3 series of asana is such that practitioner must do mastery in one before moving into the next.
    Primary series – centered on forwarding bends.
    Secondary series – centered on backward bends.
    Advanced series – It consists further 4 divisions based on Arm balancing postures.

What to expect In Ashtanga class?

  • In Ashtanga Yoga class you will be encouraged to remember the sequence of postures on which you are working on. After that you will do postures by your own and teacher around you will support and adjust your practice. This is called ‘Mysore style’ Practice.
  • In Mysore style Ashtanga yoga classroom, you will see around 20 students in a class. While you will be learning ‘Primary series’ someone other next to you could be practicing on ‘Advanced’ or ‘Intermediate’ series.

For whom the Ashtanga Yoga is?

  • Ashtangis are known for its strictness, clear-cut rules and tradition. A practitioner who can indulge themselves into a strict sense of order should go with Ashtanga yoga.
  • A famous quote by Sri. K. Pattabhi Jois (Ashtanga yoga founder) “only lazy people can’t do Ashtanga yoga” Suggest yogi should have strong willpower to do Ashtanga yoga.

Beginner Tip

Endurance should be maintained to move into the next higher level pose. When Ashtanga teacher feels your alignment and vinyasa good accordingly posture, then he will move you onto the next pose.

Benefits

  • Develops core strength.
  • Weight management.
  • Increases flexibility

2. Vinyasa Yoga

Girl posing in vinyasa yoga

  • Postures in Vinyasa Yoga are accompanied by the continue breathing flows from one posture to next posture.
  • Vinyasa Yoga differs from Ashtanga in terms of sequencing of Yoga postures.
  • In Vinyasa Yoga, at the end of each class, there is a random peak posture. The entire practice of the class centered on the preparation for that peak posture.

What to expect in a Vinyasa class?

  • Sometimes to make the transition between the postures safe and smooth, Bandhas are practiced in the class.
  • To achieve mastery in a Peak pose, vinyasa karma progression steps regularize for certain days in the class.

For whom Vinyasa yoga is?

  • Dynamic flow of asana in vinyasa yoga is good for people looking for the physical challenge.
  • A person who wants to strengthens breathing muscles as well as a physical workout too.

Beginner Tip

The sequence of postures in Vinyasa yoga varies day to day. If you are new in Yoga don’t give up because of vigorous workout of the first day in Vinyasa yoga. Try a few other classes and then decide perfect one for you according to your strength.

Benefits

  • Best for the cardio workout.
  • Strengthen breathing muscles.
  • Detoxify body.

3. Bikram Yoga (Hot Yoga)

Girl posing in Bikram yoga

Founder – Bikram Choudhury | in Year – 1970

  • Bikram Yoga consists of 26 postures sequence including 2 breathing exercises for 90 minutes duration class.
  • Bikram Yoga is basically done in a heated room having temperature 35–42 °C (95–108 °F) with 40% humidity.

What to expect in Bikram Class?

  • A Bikram Yoga instructor will not demonstrate each move of posture for you. They instruct you through talk inflow that let your mind stop thinking and be in the present moment.
  • Around the world, most Bikram yoga teachers follow specific dialogues script to instruct each pose.
  • The sweaty smell in Bikram Yoga classes is constant everywhere. So They use anti-bacterial carpet nowadays in classes that get cleaned regularly.

For Whom Bikram Yoga is?

  • Yogis who want to burn out their calories Bikram yoga is best suited for them. Calories burn in 90 minutes class is 50 % higher than a typical yoga class and a brisk walk for the same amount of time.
  • A practitioner who doesn’t mind to stay in Hot-humid temperature.

Beginner Tip

  • Bring plenty amount of water before coming into the Bikram yoga class.
  • Don’t wash out sweating on your face and body – Let it flow. It maintains body temperature.
  • Dress up in light clothes. Men can wear Shorts and women in a swimsuit or sports bra with shorts is a good option.

Benefits

  • The hot atmosphere created in Bikram Yoga class helps to burn the extra body fat.
  • It Increases flexibility and strength in body muscles.

4. Iyengar Yoga

Founder – B.K.S Iyengar | in Year – 1965

  • Iyengar (Guru Ji) Simplified teachings of classical Hatha Yoga by the use of different props and systematizes it on a style of Yoga called Iyengar Yoga.
  • Iyengar Yoga consists of 200 asanas and 14 pranayama varies from beginner to advance level.

What to expect in Iyengar class?

  • An Iyengar yoga class is always surrounded by well-kept Props and Hanging ropes yoga wall.
  • Iyengar teacher will demonstrate Individual pose in a class by own while emphasizing on pose alignment.
  • Most Iyengar classes start with standing posture, moving to the other postures and their variation and then class ending with deep relaxation in Savasana.

For Whom the Iyengar Yoga is?

  • Iyengar Guru Ji modified classical hatha yoga postures in order to cure the chronic body ailments. A person suffering from some body aches can use Iyengar props and enjoy the beauty of postures.

Beginner Tip

  • As Iyengar yoga classes are mostly focused on the body’s natural alignment. You should not wear baggy clothes so that the teacher can see easily your body alignment.
  • You don’t need to bring any yoga equipment in class as most of the classes equipped with necessary props which a beginner need.

Benefits

  • Performing asana with the help of Props heals the body from chronic pains.
  • Iyengar Yoga develops & strengthens body muscles.
  • Using Iyengar Yoga, the precision of body alignment in asana increases.

5. Power Yoga

Girl posing in power yoga

Founder– Bryan Kest and Beryl Bender Birch | in Year – 1990

  • When Vinyasa style is performed with the faster pace it becomes fitness centered approach and this is called Power Yoga.
  • Due to the fitness centered approach of this style, many people consider it ‘Gym Yoga’.
  • In Power Yoga, you stay in a posture just for very few seconds and then move to the successor posture immediately.

What to expect in a Power Yoga class?

  • A power yoga class mainly emphasis on standing postures to build up your heart rate and so on for cardio workout.

For Whom the Power Yoga is?

  • For athlete individuals, Power Yoga is best suited to build up the breathing muscles.
  • People who looking for a physical challenge in yoga asanas.

Beginner Tip

Keep breathing deeply while you are in the intense workout of power yoga asana.

Benefits

  • Improves sleep quality.
  • Keep maintaining cholesterol levels in the body.
  • Lowers the blood pressure.

6. Jivamukti Yoga

Popularized by – David Life and Sharon Gannon | in Year – 1984

  • Jivamukti’ is a Sanskrit term.
    ‘Jiva’ means ‘individual soul’ & ‘mukti’ means ‘liberation.
  • In Jivamukti Yoga, along with physical practice, the main emphasis is given on the ethical and spiritual aspect of Yoga.
  • 5 supportive pillars or tenets on which Jivamukti Yoga runs are following. Shastra (scripture), bhakti (devotion), ahimsa (non-harming), nada (music) and dhyana (meditation).
  • Physical practices in Jivamukti Yoga are taken as a combination of Hatha and vinyasa based Yoga style.

What to expect In Jivamukti class?

  • Every Jivamukti class has a theme which is elaborated by the teacher using yoga scripture, asana alignment, pranayama, chanting, and meditation.

For Whom the Jivamukti Yoga is?

  • Jivamukti Yoga is more than a physical workout and people looking for the spirituality of yoga should opt it.
  • As ahimsa (Non-violence) is one of the supporting pillars of Jivamukti Yoga, it appeals you to be a vegan.

Beginner Tip

  • A beginner can choose among different types of Jivamukti class (Open, Basic, Beginner & Spiritual warrior) according to the time one has and past practice level.

Benefits

  • Like any other vigorous style of Yoga, it increases strength, balance, and flexibility in the body.
  • Increases blood flow in veins and purifies them.

7. Kundalini Yoga

Girl posing in kundalini yoga

Popularized by – Yogi Bhajan | in Year – 1968

  • Kundalini Yoga is the physical, spiritual and meditative practice to awaken kundalini energy. Kundalini is a feminine energy present at the base of the spine (Muladhara chakra) in a dormant state.
  • As kundalini energy awakened, it gradually riches up pierce different energy centers (chakras) present throughout the spine.
  • When Kundalini reaches up to forehead (Ajna chakra), it merges with masculine energy. This state is called as ‘opening of the third eye’.

What to expect in Kundalini Yoga class?

  • Kundalini Yoga class starts with mantra chanting to expand consciousness throughout your body and mind.
  • Most of the kundalini yoga teacher you will see in class wearing White clothing and turbans for peace purpose.

For Whom the Kundalini Yoga is?

  • A person wants to probe physical energy to achieve calmness of body and mind.
  • Looking for meditation? – Kundalini is a meditation-based approach of Yoga.

Beginner Tip

Keep open your mind while in a kundalini yoga class to enjoy the beauty of mindfulness meditation.

Benefits

  • The practice of Kundalini Yoga purifies Nadis (energy canals) of the body.
  • It keeps nervous system activates and strengthens its functioning.
  • As the chakras open gradually, awareness starts flowing very consciously in your inner self.

8. Yin Yoga

Popularized by – Pauli Zink | in Year – 1970

  • Postures in Yin Yoga focuses on activating deep muscles ligaments by holding the postures for a longer period than usual.
    For beginners postures holding time – 1 to 3 minutes.
    In advance level, this time extends up to 6 minutes.
  • There are almost 10 poses in Yin Yoga which is practices in 90 minutes class.

What to expect in the Yin Yoga class?

  • Most of the postures in Yin yoga class will be doing in sitting or laying down on the floor.
  • At the end of class, there is enough time and resources to relax the body.

For Whom the Yin Yoga is?

  • Athletes who want good muscles stretching without a heavy exhaust workout.
  • Yin Yoga especially good for aspirants who want to bring awareness in postures at a very deep level. Literally, here you feel the Yoga postures, not like others styles where you flow in postures with the breath.

Beginner Tip

Listen to your body call – Don’t push yourself to hold postures for longer duration in the beginning. Slowly muscles will build up and then increase the time to hold the postures.

Benefits

  • Holding postures for certain period makes Yin Yoga a good joint opener, Hence increase circulation and flexibility of joints.
  • Yin Yoga starts cultivating awareness physically and mentally so Calms and balances the mind and body.

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  1. Eiko Yabuki
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