Comprehensive Guide On Different Yoga Styles

There are different yoga styles in practice today, but all these styles have emerged from the same family. The basic difference lies in the importance given on posture or alignment of the body parts or coordination between breath and movement. This article provides you detailed information on different yoga style basics.

Traditional Styles Of Yoga

These yoga techniques were initially introduced in India by prominent yoga gurus.

  • Ashtanga: Somewhere around 1948 Sri. K. Pattabhi Jois started teaching this yoga style. The literal meaning of Ashtanga is 'eight limbed'. This yoga technique strictly follows Patanjali's eight limbs of yoga. These eight limbs include external cleansing practices such as Yama (moral codes), Niyama (self purification), asana (posture), pranayama (breathing control) and internal cleansing practices such as pratyahara (sense control), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi (bliss state). Ashtanga yoga technique starts with sun salutation sequence (Surya Namaskar) as a warm up exercise. Different postures of this style are characterized by energy, power and sweat.
  • Integral: This is a gentle yoga technique introduced by Swami Satchidananda during the late 60's. This style of yoga emphasizes on incorporating the different aspects of yoga thereby helping the follower to reach the ultimate goal of self realization. There are several branches of integral yoga such as Raja yoga, Japa yoga, Hatha yoga, Karma yoga, Bhakti yoga and Jnana yoga. Integral yoga style brings all these different components together into a group that has a unique style.
  • Iyengar: This yoga technique is developed by B.K.S. Iyengar. Firmly rooted in the Patanjali's eight limbs of yoga, this style heavily emphasizes on the integration of the body, mind and spirit connection. Iyengar yoga technique lays stress on the accuracy and alignment of the different postures thereby benefiting the emotional and mental bodies too.
  • Kripalu: More of a meditative yoga than physical posture, Kripalu yoga technique was introduced by Swami Kripalu. Though this yoga style teaches the correct yoga postures and proper physical exercises, the basic aim is to provide insight into Self.
  • Kundalini: This yoga technique, also referred to as the Yoga of Awareness, was introduced by Yoga Bhajan in the late 60's. This style of yoga emphasizes on the non-stressful way of doing yoga postures which helps in promoting energy, flexibility and tranquility. This technique includes the use of chanting and pranayama (breathing techniques) through which the inherent Kundalini energy can be released. This helps the practitioner to achieve high levels of spiritual consciousness.

Contemporary Styles of Yoga

Based on traditional yoga methods, all these yoga styles have originated in the US.

  • Bikram: Introduced by Bikram Choudhoury, this yoga technique is a vigorous one. This technique emphasizes greatly on the rigorous physical workout and does not include any spiritual discussion.
  • Power: Strictly not for gentle practitioners, this yoga style in one of the most powerful and stimulating yoga styles. There is very little or almost no pause between different yoga postures and thus it is almost same as an intense aerobic routine. This technique is favored by many sportspersons as it alleviates pain of injury.