In order to understand the different types of yoga we must go back to the origin. Yoga appeared in India more than 5,000 years ago and has developed and diversified over the centuries. There are traces written in Sanskrit that are considered to be the founding basis of yoga. They are thus called Yoga sutra of Patanjali from the names of two scholars, one would be a grammarian and the second would be the one who compiled the various sentences.
The history of Patanjali is however subject to much debate and is the subject of many myths, so it is difficult to determine the exact origin of the appearance of yoga. These short sentences will then be transcribed by masters in order to make them accessible to all. The Yoga sutra is the very origin of all the different types of yoga that were later declined.
An increasingly widespread practice around the world
Widely acclaimed, yoga is a discipline practiced by more and more people. There are about 250 million practitioners worldwide. This attraction for this sport is normal since the practice of yoga combines physical and mental activity. The combination of the two is good for both body and mind. Moreover, the practice of yoga is accessible to everyone and all ages. So, even if you are not a great sportsman, you will be able to realize very quickly different postures.
Yoga allows you to gain flexibility and balance. The different postures require concentration and precision to be performed perfectly. It is also necessary to concentrate on your breathing, which is coordinated with the different movements.
In the yogi culture, certain postures help to balance the different chakras.
Relaxation, flexibility, strength are the three benefits that come back to the practice of yoga.
There are no less than 20 different types of yoga according to the International Yoga Federation. More or less athletic, the different types of yoga, however, maintain the search for physical and mental balance and combine meditation, breathing in connection with the connection with nature. From the most gentle to the most athletic, you will easily find the style of yoga that suits you according to your possibilities and your goals.
Among the 20 or so types of yoga, 10 stand out and are the most practiced. We present them to you, explaining their characteristics, their benefits and how to practice them. The first 5 are the most practiced in the West, especially in France. The advantage is that you will easily find a class where one of these types of yoga is practiced. It is of course possible to practice this discipline without necessarily registering for a class, many books and websites provide advice and lessons. There are even videos that will allow you to do the different postures in the right way. The benefit of following a course by an experienced teacher is to do the exercises safely without the risk of hurting yourself.
The 10 most popular types of yoga
The HATHA YOGA
It is the most classic type of yoga. It is also the most popular and the most practiced. The Sanskrit term is hatha yoga can be translated as "stress yoga". It combines breath, postures and meditation, leading to a spiritual awakening.
It is the most Zen type of yoga, it is considered the most traditional. To practice Hatha Yoga, you don't need a lot of equipment. A floor mat in a quiet place is sufficient. More a relaxation method than a sport, it is suitable for everyone. The postures must be adapted according to one's possibilities and capacities and not the other way around.
The postures must be done with concentration to be able to align the body perfectly. Maintaining the different postures over a given time allows you to tone the body in depth, but also disciplines the mind. The benefit is felt on an excellent balance between body and mind.
ASHTANGA YOGA was developed in the 1930s by Master Yogi Krishnamacharya who learned from Master Sri Ramamohan Brahmachari in the Himalayas. The origin of its name comes from the Sanskrit ashtau which means 8 and anga which is translated as limbs. The number 8 refers to the number of postures in Ashtanga Yoga. It also refers to 8 rules, a kind of philosophy of life, namely:
• Yamas: rule of behavior
• Niyamas: self-discipline
• Asanas: body postures
• Pranayama: Breathing
• Pratyahara: mastery of the senses
• Dharana : concentration
• Dhyana : meditation
• Samadhi: illumination
The postures of Ashtanga Yoga are precise and are to be followed in a specific order. This type of yoga proposes sequences that are more and more complex and fast. Their perfect realization requires a good training and an excellent discipline. You will only have to perform the next posture when the previous one is performed to perfection, which requires patience and humility.
This type of yoga acts on the breath and on the good tonicity of the body. The requirement in the perfect realization will teach you to be persevering and patient. You will have to show a lot of humility in your learning and especially to realize the postures without hurting yourself. Indeed, as soon as pain appears, you must stop the movement and resume it until it is performed without pain. Ashtanga Yoga helps to relieve the joints and reduce anxiety and stress. It also increases endurance and flexibility.
In Sanskrit, Vinyasa Yoga means "synchronization of movement with breathing". Thus Vi is translated by specific way and Nyasa by placing. It is therefore the sequence of movements in a dynamic way coordinated by the breath. The control of the breath, an important component in the practice of yoga, takes its full dimension here.
Vinyasa Yoga does not obey strict rules regarding the postures to be respected. They are often the result of the yoga teacher's experience or your own aspirations. It is rather a dynamic yoga and is appreciated for its more athletic side than traditional yoga. The adepts of this type of yoga can thus benefit from a complete workout that responds to a demand combining body alignment and physical exertion.
More athletic than Hatha Yoga, Vinyasa is nonetheless for everyone since nothing is imposed. Thus, it is experience and mastery that will guide the different postures that you will follow. It will allow you to tone your body, but also to enjoy a healthy physical activity. The help of an experienced yoga teacher can greatly help you progress and reach your goals.
The beginnings of this type of yoga can be found in the United States around 1892. It was then introduced in Europe in 1932, but remained rather confidential until 1969 when it was taught by Master Yogi Bhajan. Considered as the "royal way", it allows the blossoming of consciousness.
Closely related to spirituality, Kundalini Yoga is also called Original Yoga. Sessions are conducted with mantra chanting, meditation and breathing. The postures are quite secondary, they complete the session, but are not the core of it. This type of yoga requires an open mind and to have overcome some of your blockages. If you have already practiced yoga, you will certainly be more comfortable.
Kundalini Yoga acts as much on the body as on the psyche. It allows a perfect physical and energetic balance between the two. A complete, energetic and spiritual practice, you will feel a deep sense of well-being after each session. Thus, each movement and each breath will allow you to warm up your sleeping energy.
THE YOGA BIKRAM
Sometimes controversial, this type of yoga is practiced in a room heated to 40°. Finding its source in Hatha Yoga, it was developed by Bikram Choudhury in the 1970s in the United States. Bikram Yoga arrived in France in 2001, but it remains relatively little practiced. Indeed, practicing sessions in an overheated room could cause cardiovascular problems.
Bikram Yoga sessions are therefore practiced in a room deliberately heated to 40.6° and with a humidity level of 40%. It consists of 2 breathing exercises and 26 different postures in a time of 90 minutes. The different postures will work all the muscles of the body.
To practice Bikram Yoga, it is necessary to be in good physical condition. The interest of this temperature is to improve the flexibility of muscles and joints. Thus, the heat will cause perspiration which helps to expel toxins and promote movement. The practice of hot yoga will strengthen the joints and prevent the risk of osteoporosis in particular. It also allows to evacuate stress and to feel a psychological well-being.
THE YOGA POWER
It is a form that has appeared very recently, we talk about modern yoga and more fun. Arrived in the 1980s, it is widely acclaimed and the courses dispensing power yoga are more and more numerous.
Largely inspired by ashtanga-Yoga in a more dynamic version, the classes take place in a heated room. The sequences of postures (asanas) are fast and require a very rigorous training. Thus, we find Pilates and fitness movements associated with traditional Yoga postures.
Power Yoga is performed in a warm atmosphere so the body's perspiration due to the heat will allow the joints and muscles to be more flexible. By practicing regularly, you will be able to obtain an excellent muscular tonicity. The benefits felt will be both psychic (reduced anxiety, stress evacuation, mental clarity, better concentration) and also physical (better endurance, more flexible joints, vital energy replenished, better blood circulation and muscle tone).
However, it is important to make sure that you are in excellent physical condition and not suffering from chronic diseases before taking up Power Yoga.
In Sanskrit, Jivamukti means "state of liberation". This type of yoga appeared in 1986 under the impetus of David and Sharon Gannon. It is a question, through physical work and the precepts of yoga, to convey a strong spiritual message.
Like Ashtanga or Vinyasa yoga, the sessions are based on chanting, deep breathing and music combined with postures. Each Jivamukti yoga session begins and ends with songs and is always accompanied by music. Afterwards, the classes are given according to the themes that are announced for each month, and each session begins by studying one of the founding writings of yoga.
The practice of Jivamukti is a real source of well-being. Completely dedicated to the mind to release tensions and blockages through the work of the postures. The lessons studied in each class nourish the mind as much as the class itself. It encourages to follow the precepts of yoga to integrate them into daily life. The physical benefits are felt mostly on muscles and better flexibility.
THE YOGA NIDRA
Yoga Nidra or sleep yoga. The Hindu culture speaks of a state of constant sleep, in recall to Narayana, sleepy vishnu. Developed and adapted by Swami Satyananda in the 1950's, it originated from Tantric yoga.
Nidra yoga is practiced lying down according to the Savasana posture. The eyes must be closed and you must be completely motionless. Moreover, even if you fall asleep, it is not very serious, because even if your body is asleep, your mind is not. It is said to be the yoga of deep relaxation. During the whole session, which lasts 30 to 40 minutes, you are in semi-consciousness and you recite mantras that will allow you to let go.
Sleep yoga, as its name suggests, is designed to provide you with quality sleep, a better sleep. It allows a better physical and mental regeneration, a better management of emotions, and especially to correctly evacuate negative thoughts that can parasitize you. Stress will be less present, because Nidra Yoga allows, among other things, to reduce anxiety.
Otherwise known as Therapeutic Yoga, it is designed to relieve pain such as back pain. It takes its name from its creator, Iyengar, who developed it in the 1970s.
This type of yoga is practiced with yoga props such as a bolster (support), a foam brick or a chair. The class lasts about 1 hour and a half and is adapted according to the level of the students. The postures are organized in sequence and must be done very carefully.
Ideal for developing endurance, resistance and body alignment, Iyengar yoga has a therapeutic purpose. It relieves various ailments, but allows for a very good spiritual deepening. By combining meditation and concentration, it strengthens the balance between body and mind.
THE YOGA FLY
Fly yoga or aerial yoga, this practice has the particularity of taking place in the air with the help of an accessory. Developed very recently, in 2009, aero-yoga is more and more trendy!
Fly yoga provides a feeling of floating. To achieve this, it is advisable to have a specific accessory, a kind of hammock made of parachute fabric where you can perform different postures, a few centimeters from the ground. Accessible to all, as well as to children, it is really playful. Depending on the course, you will either be in contact with the ground or in weightlessness! The feeling of floating in the air is extremely soothing and allows you to relax your body, but also your mind.
Aerial yoga strengthens concentration. Indeed, being suspended, you will have to be more attentive to your gestures, even if this practice does not involve any danger. You will gain in flexibility and at the same time, you will be able to strengthen your muscles. It is an excellent way to evacuate stress, because this rather playful practice allows you to spend a moment in relaxation and lightness.
What to remember about the different types of yoga
Through the presentation of the different types of yoga, we see that the common thread is based on the precepts of the first yogi masters and that the central and fundamental point lies in a search for balance between mind and body. It is always a matter of combining postures with breathing and meditation. More or less dynamic or more or less athletic, there is certainly a type of yoga that corresponds to your ability and your goals. Depending on the popularity of the class you choose, the search for a teacher may be more or less tedious. This is why the solution may be to train yourself and, to this end, many resources are fortunately available. However, it is still best to seek out a teacher. Indeed, this is the essence of the spirit of yoga which encourages the transmission, the sharing of experience which are part of a philosophy of life.
Whether it is for your personal or spiritual growth or to maintain good health, there are many reasons to practice yoga. It is a practice that is part of a philosophy of life and a process of openness. Yoga practitioners are often recognized as Zen people, who listen and are close to those around them, they are also very sensitive to energies and nature.
The frequency of your yoga sessions is determined by your abilities in terms of time and physical condition. Thus, to obtain results, it is not necessary to practice every day, but rather to split your sessions over shorter but regular times. It is also important to be focused and mentally available in order to be able to find sufficient attention to receive all the benefits of yoga.
Practicing yoga is not dangerous. However, some forms require good health, especially those practiced in an overheated room, so it is best to consult your doctor before starting to make sure that everything is fine.
And you, what is your type of yoga?
Are you a yoga practitioner and if so which one do you practice? Did you know that there are so many different types of yoga? How did you choose this type of yoga over another? What motivates you to practice it? Tell us about your experiences in comments, they can be very inspiring for people who are new to yoga and want to have more information before they start!