Famous Traditional Styles Of Yoga Explained

Traditional styles of yoga have all originated in India under different Yoga gurus. These techniques are now being followed by the practitioners' the world over and have formed the base for many contemporary styles of yoga. This article explains some of the famous traditional yoga styles in greater detail.

  • Ashtanga Yoga
  • Ashtanga is a Sanskrit word which means 'eight limbs'. This refers to the eight limbs of yoga explained in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. The method has been introduced by Sri. K. Pattabhi Jois. Ashtanga method of yoga puts great emphasis on flow yoga (vinyasa) practice using mula bandha, ujjayi breathing, uddiyana bandha and drishti.

    The primary series of Ashtanga called Yoga Chikitsa (Yoga therapy) helps in detoxifying the body and builds strength and stamina. The series starts with sun salutation and then moves on to standing postures, seated postures, inversions and backbends followed by relaxation. The advanced series called Nadi Shodana (nervous system purification) and Sthira Bhaga (divine stability) are for experienced practitioners. Ashtanga is one of the popular traditional styles of yoga and is ideal for those who like to do things in order.

  • Integral Yoga
  • Integral yoga is introduced by Sri Swami Sachidananda and it is a gentle yoga method integrating mind, body and spirit. There are different branches or practices of Integral yoga:

    • Raja Yoga: Controlling and balancing the mind with meditation.
    • Hatha Yoga: Uses asana (yoga postures), pranayama (breathing exercises), kriyas (cleansing practices) and relaxation techniques to make the body strong and pure.
    • Bhakti Yoga: Uses chants to seek divine or spiritual connection with God.
    • Karma Yoga: Carrying out actions irrespective of the outcome.

    Integral yoga incorporates these yoga style basics and is ideal for those who want to coordinate their physical, intellectual and spiritual being into one.

  • Iyengar Yoga
  • Iyengar yoga method emphasizes on the correct physical alignment in doing the different yoga postures and it believes that by attaining the perfect balance with constant practice one can achieve a balanced mind. Another important difference of Iyengar yoga style with other traditional styles is that it has very little or no Vinyasa/flow. Here in this style of yoga, the poses are held for longer period while perfecting the alignment. This style is ideal for people who are overweight, ill or elderly or those who are not perfectly fit enough to perform a flow style yoga.

  • Kripalu Yoga
  • Kripalu is a gentle yoga style with a compassionate approach. It lays emphasis on physical healing, spiritual makeover and meditation. Each practitioner is asked to perform their own level of practice depending upon their capability. This is a great individualized yoga style ideal for those who seek spirituality and who like work on their own.

  • Kundalini Yoga
  • Kundalini yoga, one of the traditional styles of yoga, has recently being introduced to the world by Yogi Bhajan. In this style, each yoga posture is done simultaneously with a specific breathing exercise that frees the trapped energy in the lower body. Usually kundalini yoga style would consist of some warm up stretches to improve flexibility, kriyas focusing on specific body area, meditation with chanted mantras, pranayama and mudras. This is one of those traditional styles of yoga that is ideal for those who want to excel in both mental and physical workouts.