The term ‘yoga‘ means union or connection, and signifies an experience which allows our body and mind to connect with anything around us. As human beings, we like to feel connected to our surroundings, whether that be a person, place or thing, and yoga is just one technique that allows us to do so more effectively. There are many traditional branches of yoga, each with different methods to help us gain greater awareness and awaken the subconscious, and to help you decide which branch is for you we are going to break down 5 different yoga styles.
#1 Hatha Yoga
Hatha yoga entails a combination of basic asanas (or positions to you and me) and relaxation techniques. As one of the six original yoga branches, hatha represents almost all modern types of yoga as it is defined as a physical practice, and therefore a ‘hatha’ yoga class will typically take a classic approach and involve breathing exercises and postures.
#2 Bikram Yoga
Bikram yoga or ‘hot’ yoga as it is commonly known takes place in a room with a very high temperature, usually around 40° celsius. A Bikram yoga class will be made up of 26 basic yoga postures and a couple of breathing exercises. Practicing yoga in a sauna-like environment is thought to be beneficial as it flushes out toxins through sweating, aids weight loss and can make the practitioner more flexible as it improves blood flow and helps oxygen to reach muscle tissue.
#3 Ashtanga Yoga
Made up of 6 strenuous pose sequences, Ashtanga yoga is designed to strengthen and realign the body. The different postures are practiced sequentially during a session and the movement is rapid, changing from one pose to another with each inhale and exhale of a breath. Continued practice can improve the functioning of all our systems, including cardiovascular, digestive and respiratory.
#4 Anusara Yoga
Whilst Ashtanga is quite rigid and structured as a form of yoga, Anusara takes a more relaxed approach and allows the yogi practitioner some freedom in how they wish to move or position themselves. Meaning ‘flow with grace’ or ‘go with the flow’, it has gained a reputation as one of the most spiritual forms of yoga, with the focus on the inner self, mind and soul. During an Anusara yoga class, students are encouraged to express themselves through the poses and use their own instincts to guide them.
#5 Kundalini Yoga
Much like Ashtanga, Kundalini is quite an invigorating form of yoga with a lot of movement and posture changes. Kundalini is an energy which is found inside all of us, and this form of yoga attempts to release the energy into your body with the intention of developing strength, awareness and consciousness.
So there you have it, 5 different types of yoga named and explained – we hope this has given you a better understanding of some of the branches and the differences between them. Are you devoted to the practice of yoga and if so what is your go-to style?