If you want to start with yoga, you will soon realize that there are many different yoga styles out there. With such a variety of styles, it can be overwhelming, especially for beginners, to find the right yoga style for yourself.
That’s why we wrote this article to help you gain clarity over the many types of yoga.
While we shared a general overview of yoga, in our yoga guide for beginners, this article will go more in-depth. It will introduce the most popular types of yoga (among others: Hatha, Kundalini, Yin, and Ashtanga) in more detail.
Jump ahead to any of the sections below:
- The Most Popular Types of Yoga
- Yoga Type 1: Hatha Yoga
- Yoga Type 2: Kundalini Yoga
- Yoga Type 3: Yin Yoga
- Yoga Type 4: Ashtanga Yoga
- Yoga Type 5: Vinyasa Yoga
- Yoga Type 6: Bikram Yoga
- Yoga Type 7: Aerial Yoga
- Yoga Type 8: SUP Yoga
- Yoga Type 9: Power Yoga
- Yoga Type 10: Jivamukti Yoga
- Other Types of Yoga
The Most Popular Types of Yoga
Although the different styles of yoga are very diverse themselves, most of them have one thing in common: they combine body poses (Asanas) in a sequence with breathing exercises (Pranayama) and have meditative approaches.
Asanas are the actual physical movements during Yoga. They can be simple or very complex.
Pranayama are the breathing exercises. They are not necessarily related to one yoga style.
While meditation is a practice for itself, with its own styles and benefits, it’s often integrated in yoga. Some even see yoga itself as a style of meditation.
A yoga sequence is simply a series of different Asanas. A sequence can be very unique to its type of yoga or just a random mix of Asanas.
Yoga Type 1: Hatha Yoga
Hatha yoga is the foundation for most yoga styles and is a great type of yoga for beginners.
Hatha yoga focuses on mindfulness. The breathing exercises play a unique role, and you do the poses step by step in harmony with your breathing.
Besides, there are mindfulness exercises and meditation, which are performed at the beginning or end of the yoga lesson. They usually begin in a cross-legged position (Sukhasana), in which you breathe consciously and deeply.
Benefits of Hatha Yoga
By focusing on mindfulness and meditation, regular Hatha yoga leads to inner peace and serenity. At the same time, it enhances your flexibility, your sense of balance, and your body awareness.
Hatha yoga exercises are slow and calm.
Hatha yoga is ideal for beginners and intermediates of all ages, because you can approach each pose slowly.
If you are interested in meditation, this type of yoga can give you a more leisurely start with its gentle breathing exercises.
Yoga Type 2: Kundalini Yoga
Kundalini yoga cleanses and strengthens the energy centers of our body – the chakras. This is why it’s also called “Yoga of energy”.
A classical Kundalini yoga sequence, called “Kirya”, always consists of Asanas, Pranayama, mudras. Many Kundalini yoga practitioners wear white clothes and white turban to among others become more self-conscious.
In Kundalini yoga, the focus is on spirituality and esotericism. Each sequence combines intensive breathing exercises, mantras, and meditation to stimulate body and mind.
Kundalini yoga also works very well with Qigong.
Benefits of Kundalini Yoga
This kind of yoga has a positive effect, especially on your inner self. A regular Kundalini yoga practice makes you happy, energetic, and calm.
Kundalini also has a physical advantage: by holding Asanas for a long time, you will release tensions in your body.
The style is slow and deliberate. You begin each sequence with breathing exercises to calm yourself.
You hold Asanas and Pranayamas longer than in other yoga styles: 10 minutes per exercise is normal. Experienced yogis even hold their Asanas for 20 – 30 minutes. This makes the poses even more demanding.
Kundalini yoga is suitable for all ages and levels of physical fitness, making it ideal for beginners.
Beginners should give themselves time to immerse themselves in practice, as the teaching of Kundalini is pervasive. The original Indian spirituality strongly influences this style, so interest in it is an advantage.
Yoga Type 3: Yin Yoga
Yin Yoga is mindful, slow, and gentle, unlike other dynamic styles like Ashtanga yoga, which involves the muscles more actively.
Similar to Hatha yoga, Yin yoga focuses on mindfulness. As a yogi, you focus on what you can’t see with your eyes. In Yin Yoga, these are the underlying body parts.
Benefits of Yin Yoga
Yin yoga activates those parts in your body that other yoga types don’t reach: connective tissue, ligaments, tendons, and joints. Fascia training with Yin yoga is also very useful.
Yin yoga also helps you to let go of negative thoughts and to relax your body and mind.
Yin yoga is mainly practiced lying down or sitting down. Another distinctive characteristic is the focus on a round back, which contributes to better stretching. A popular yin Asana with a round back is the “butterfly” (Baddha Konasana).
Yin yoga is very well suited for beginners and intermediates. If you are looking for a counterpart to more dynamic yoga styles or sports like weight lifting or running, Yin yoga is the perfect, calming complement.
Yoga Type 4: Ashtanga Yoga
Ashtanga yoga is a very exhausting yoga style. This form of yoga is also the basis for other dynamic yoga styles.
Ashtanga consists of six “series” called “Vinyasa Flow”. A series describes the smooth transition from one pose to the next. The order of the original series remains the same and is particularly complicated. Even experienced yogis do not always master all of them. The goal of Ashtanga yoga is to simply do the series, not to do them perfectly.
Benefits of Ashtanga Yoga
Ashtanga is a sudorific sport that strengthens and shapes the body. Ideally, you should practice daily to improve your muscles.
However, the physical benefits are not the only reason for doing Ashtanga yoga: the challenging Asanas combined with the exhausting exercise will help you to manifest humility and discipline.
Ashtanga yoga is fast. You hold each pose for precisely five breaths before moving to the next posture in a smooth but quick transition.
Ashtanga yoga is especially suitable for athletes and people with high endurance. For beginners, there is a risk of injury due to the fast sequences. Therefore, you should practice this yoga style under guidance.
Yoga Type 5: Vinyasa Yoga
Vinyasa yoga is a body-focused, modern style that has evolved from Ashtanga yoga. According to the Yoga Journal, Vinyasa is the most popular yoga style today.
Like Ashtanga yoga, vinyasa yoga is practiced in smooth movements and transitions between the poses. However, there is no fixed sequence. Each exercise is held for a few breaths before moving on to the next.
Benefits of Vinyasa Yoga
Vinyasa yoga boosts your endurance, strengthens the muscles throughout your body, and improves your ability to concentrate.
You’ll also do extensive meditation sessions at the beginning or end of each lesson to calm your mind and your breathing.
The speed of Vinyasa yoga sessions varies. It’s often accompanied by modern music that dictates the speed of the exercises.
Vinyasa is very diverse – depending on the teacher, the exercises can be fast and powerful, or slow and calm.
This makes this type of yoga less sweaty and more suitable for beginners than Ashtanga. Nevertheless, you should also train with experienced yoga teachers.
Yoga Type 6: Bikram Yoga
If you like going to the sauna or extreme experiences, you should try Bikram yoga. Bikram yoga is practiced at a room temperature of 104°F (40°C) with 40% humidity.
Bikram yoga is often mistakenly called “hot yoga”. However, there is a difference: The order of the Asanas in Bikram yoga is always the same, whereas, in hot yoga, you can practice different postures.
The focus is purely on fitness and stamina.
One training session lasts 90 minutes and contains 26 Asanas, which you always do in the same order: You start with 12 Asanas in standing position, followed by 7 Asanas in a lying position. Finish up with 7 postures, which you do while sitting or on knees. You do all exercises in front of a mirror, to see and correct your own mistakes.
In between the poses, there are two extensive breathing exercises.
Nobody is forced to do the whole 90 minutes – if it gets too exhausting, you can stop at any time.
Benefits of Bikram Yoga
Your body becomes more flexible and stretchy due to the enormous heat. A study conducted in 2013 confirmed this for the lower back, shoulders, and hamstrings.
The high temperature also stimulates circulation and blood flow.
Bikram is sweaty, but – depending on the teacher – moderate in speed.
Bikram yoga is good for beginners and intermediates. The heat can be exhausting for beginners, but you get used to it quickly.
This type of yoga isn’t suitable for severely obese people or people with high blood pressure. If in doubt, talk to your doctor first.
Yoga Type 7: Aerial Yoga
Aerial yoga emerged within the last 20 years and conquered since then the yoga studios all over the world.
You do Aerial yoga on a soft nylon cloth (called “Aerial Hammock”), which hangs in a U-shape swing from the ceiling. It supports your body weight partially or – depending on the pose – completely.
The primary purpose of Aerial yoga is to let go – in some postures literally. You let go of the ground and gravity and trust entirely in the cloth you are hanging in.
This not only opens up new angles during the exercise, but also teaches you to look at your life and your problems from a different perspective. Aerial yoga is beneficial when it comes to letting go of negative thoughts.
Benefits of Aerial Yoga
Aerial yoga promotes above all your own (physical) flexibility and agility.
You strengthen your arms and trunk muscles, and your balance improves.
Mixed. Some poses are held for several minutes, some for a few moments. In some poses, the exercise is not finished until you bring your aerial hammock to rest.
The exercises are not purely yoga poses. Some of them are acrobatic.
This type of yoga is not suitable for pregnant women and for people who suffer from high blood pressure or migraines. If in doubt, consult your doctor.
If you are healthy and fit, you can do Aerial yoga (even as a beginner).
Yoga Type 8: Stand Up Paddle Yoga (SUP Yoga)
SUP yoga combines yoga with classic stand-up paddling. It’s practiced on the water on a big surfboard.
In SUP yoga, the primary goal is to learn how to balance yourself. It’s definitely not a traditional type of yoga and fun comes first.
Benefits of SUP Yoga
With SUP yoga, you have an effective all-over body workout, because you feel the exercises on the surfboard even more intensely. This fancy yoga style is entertaining and can be a great alternative to the “normal” training in a yoga studio.
Slowly and concentrated. The poses are held for several minutes to achieve balance.
SUP yoga is suitable for anyone curious. A good sense of balance is beneficial. Advanced yogis find it easier to get started because they already know a lot of the exercises.
It’s practiced on calm waters like lakes. Nevertheless, you should, obviously, not be afraid to get wet.
If you are a yoga beginner, your SUP yoga teacher will show you the exercises on land first. Then you will learn how to paddle on a surfboard.
Yoga Type 9: Power Yoga
Power Yoga also originated from Ashtanga, but is more flexible in its execution. Because it combines Yoga and pilates, it’s also called “Yogilates”.
The exercises are composed of elements from pilates, strength training, and classical yoga poses.
Power yoga is a dynamic combination of Asanas and synchronous breathing exercises. It increases your endurance and improves your body tension.
The focus is on the seamless transition between the individual exercises, just like Ashtanga or Vinyasa yoga. However, Power yoga focuses on flexibility and physical strength.
It’s up to the yoga teacher, which Asanas are performed. The sequence is defining: You start with gentle postures, slowly increase, become more intense, and calm again. You finish the session with a meditation or a stretching exercise.
Benefits of Power Yoga
Power yoga combines the values of the original Indian yoga tradition with stress-relieving exercises.
Your posture becomes more flexible, you strengthen your endurance, your back and spine are supported, and regular practice improves the cardiovascular system.
The exercises are slow and fluent, but exhausting.
Power yoga is suitable for everyone. You don’t have to be an athlete to start with it.
Yoga Type 10: Jivamukti Yoga
Jivamukti yoga combines classical yoga postures, breathing exercises, and meditation with modern music and dance.
Jivamukti yoga is not just a sport but a way of life. It encourages a non-violent life in harmony with oneself and the people around us.
Yogis who practice Jivamukti are usually open to spirituality and faith.
Some yoga studios even offer an introduction to the ancient Indian yoga teachings in their Jivamukti classes.
Benefits of Jivamukti Yoga
This type of yoga has a stimulating effect on the body and makes it flexible and robust.
At the same time, Jivamukti yoga calms the mind, promotes the ability to concentrate, and strengthens your self-perception and awareness.
Jivamukti yoga is a dynamic yoga style with demanding Asanas that you perform in a flowing sequence quickly, one after the other.
Through its connection with other mindfulness practices, it achieves a good balance between effort and relaxation.
Beginners, as well as intermediates of all ages and abilities, can practice Jivamukti yoga.
This style is ideal for you if you want to start yoga not so much for the fitness aspect but spiritual teachings and a holistic lifestyle.
Other Types of Yoga
As already mentioned, there are countless types of yoga. Since we have only mentioned the most important ones for beginners above, here is an overview of other yoga styles:
|Yoga Nidra||Yoga lying down, almost no movements, very similar to meditation||Relaxation, stress reduction, calmness|
|Iyengar Yoga||Physically demanding yoga, where the focus is on the correct execution of the poses and fullest precision||Agility, flexibility, extensibility, calmness|
|Acro Yoga||Combines yoga with acrobatic elements||Concentration, trust, balance|
|Kriya Yoga||Spiritual yoga that combines mudras, mantras and other elements||Spirituality, body awareness|
|Sivananda Yoga||Similar to Hatha yoga. Belongs to the four classical yoga paths||Balance, relaxation, health|
|Raja Yoga||The “best” yoga of the classical yoga paths. Raja means translated king and means, whoever can control his mind is an emperor.||Relaxation, stress reduction, calmness, spirituality, body awareness|
|Bodhi yoga||Bodhi means translated intuition and wisdom. The aim is to heal your own body and mind||Mindfulness, health, relaxation|
|Dao Yoga||Dao yoga, also called Tao Yin or Tao yoga, is a type of yoga from ancient China. It’s often seen as the predecessor of Qigong||Body awareness, relaxation, stress reduction, mindfulness|
|Sahaja Yoga||Special type of yoga based on meditation, religion and spiritual elements||Spirituality|
|Ananda Yoga||Ananda yoga is a yoga system based on Hatha, but gives it a spiritual meaning||Relaxation, spirituality, body awareness, flexibility|
|Budokon Yoga||Yoga mixed with martial arts||Self-defense, fitness, body awareness, relaxation|
Here is a short overview of the ten yoga types we introduced you to:
|Yoga Type||Focus||Benefits||Best For|
|Hatha Yoga||Relaxation, mindfulness||Improves calmness, better body perception, more agility||Beginners|
|Kundalini Yoga||Relaxation, spirituality||Positive attitude, tension-releasing||Beginners and Intermediates|
|Yin Yoga||Relaxation, body awareness||Strengthens deeper-lying body parts (fascia, connective tissue, tendons, …), relaxation||Beginners|
|Ashtanga Yoga||Fitness, muscle strengthening, discipline||Strengthens and tightens the body in a short time, helps to lose weight, teaches humility||Intermediates, athletes|
|Improves endurance, strengthens muscles, improves concentration and body awareness||Intermediates|
|Bikram Yoga||Agility||Increased flexibility, ideal for those who enjoy sauna||Beginners and Intermediates|
|Aerial Yoga||Balance||Creates a new perspective, strengthens self-confidence||Beginners and Intermediates|
|Takes place outside, diverse, strengthens the body||Beginners and Intermediates|
|Power Yoga||Relaxation, stress reduction,|
|More flexibility and endurance, strengthens the body, improves posture||Beginners and Intermediates|
|Strengthens the body, has a calming effect, improves concentration||Beginners and Intermediates|
Use this overview as a guide when you want to start doing yoga. Depending on what you want to achieve with yoga, you can find the appropriate yoga style in the overview and start with it.
Remember that the goal of all yoga styles is not the perfect execution of the exercises. It’s much more important that you feel good while doing it.
Do you want to dive deeper into the topics of yoga and mindfulness? On our blog, you will find many more articles like this one. For more valuable content, sign up for the free Mindmonia newsletter below. Thanks for reading!