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The Different Kinds of Yoga &
The Focus of Each Kind in Brief

Yoga, the ancient practice of integrating the mind, body and spirit through a series of postures, breathing work and meditation, is making its mark on Americans who are eager to gain its mind and body benefits. Though it began in India over 5,000 years ago, yoga is now a household word across much of the United States.


Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit word yuj, which means to yoke or bind. This is typically translated to mean a union of mind, body and spirit.

In 2005, for instance, about 16.5 million Americans were practicing yoga -- a 43 percent increase from 2002. Meanwhile, Americans spend nearly $3 billion a year on yoga classes, vacations, clothing and more, according to a study by Yoga Journal magazine.

While many are initially drawn to yoga as a way to relieve stress or get in shape, it also offers a host of other benefits through its stretching, meditation and various postures. Overall benefits to the mind and body that are often reported include pain reduction, increased flexibility, posture and strength, improvements in mood and well-being, better sleep, increased energy and more.

But if you are thinking of giving yoga a try, or even if you've already dappled in it, it's easy to become overwhelmed by the many different types out there. Following is a description of some popular yoga varieties out there. If you're just beginning, take a class in a few different styles to find out which type appeals to you most (or rotate between the various types to get different benefits).

  1. Hatha: One of the most popular types of yoga (if not THE most popular), hatha yoga is meant to achieve balance between the mind and body. It includes traditional yoga postures for all levels, and is often a general term used to describe a collection of yoga styles. (Many of the types of yoga below are derived from hatha yoga.)

  2. Ashtanga: This involves a fast-paced, flowing sequence of postures that gradually increase in difficulty.

  3. Power yoga: Similar to ashtanga, with a fast pace. Power yoga is for those looking for a vigorous workout and body toning.

  4. Forrest: A more contemporary type of yoga that makes you work up a sweat. It involves deep breathing, core strengtheners and holding postures for a longer time period. It is meant to purify and strengthen the body, along with promote the release of negative emotions and pain.


Whether you are looking for relaxation and stress relief, body toning, pain relief, or want to discover your spiritual self, there is a yoga style for you!

  1. Viniyoga: A gentle yoga practice in which breathing is synchronized with the poses.

  2. Bikram: A series of 26 poses are performed in a heated room (the temperature can be anywhere from 90-100 degrees F) to make your body sweat. The heat in the room is meant to increase your body's flexibility, reduce the risk of injury and help you to detoxify.

  3. Kundalini: Kundalini yoga is meant to awaken a powerful energy that is located at the base of the spine. The energy, once released, is said to bring a great sense of well-being and awareness.

  4. Bharata: Bharata yoga helps to align the spine to increase mobility and improve posture.

  5. Dru: A series of poses are performed to help you find your inner tranquility and strength, as well as improve your well-being.

  6. Ananda: Includes a series of gentle hatha yoga poses designed to send energy toward the brain to prepare the body for meditation. This type of yoga is meant to promote spiritual growth and self-awareness.

  7. Anusara: Meaning literally "to step into the current of divine will," anusara is meant to promote awareness and well-being along with body alignment.

  8. Swara: Sequences focus on observing the breath and proper breathing practices.

  9. Iyengar: This is a practice geared strongly toward bodily alignment. Poses are held for longer periods (as opposed to "flowing" from one into the other).

  10. Jivamukti: A physically intense yoga series that also involves chanting, meditation, and spiritual teachings.

  11. Integral: A gentle form of hatha yoga that emphasizes breathing, chanting, meditation and purifying the body's energy channels.

Recommended Reading

Simple Meditations for Busy People

The Untapped Power and Benefit of Having a Mantra

The Sydney Morning Herald

The Yoga Sciences Research Foundation

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