Of all the things you need to take into account when choosing a yoga teacher-training course (YTTC), style is one of the most important factors to consider. It lays your foundation as a teacher. This step is a no-brainer if you’re already a devotee of something particular, like ashtanga or Jivamukti. However, if you’re a yogi who dabbles in all styles and doesn’t yet feel a pull in any specific direction, it’s time to do some serious stylistic exploration.
In order to be a great teacher, you need to love what you teach. You’ll shine if you’re genuinely passionate about the information you’re sharing. If your YTTC puts you on a path that doesn’t feel authentically you, you probably won’t find fulfillment in teaching. Nor will you feel motivated to practice that particular style, and a good teacher should (happily) practice what they teach.
So before you enroll in a YTTC, find a yoga style that resonates with you. Fortunately, you have tons of options. There’s something for everyone when it comes to modern yoga. To start you on your exploration, here are some of the most popular styles to consider:
Popularized by Pattabhi Jois in the 1970’s, ashtanga is a rigorous, physically demanding style of yoga. It’s similar to vinyasa in that each movement in linked to the breath. However, in ashtanga, poses are always practiced in a strict order.
Good for: Those who like order, repetition, and physically demanding yoga. The only official place you can be certified to teach ashtanga yoga is in Mysore, India.
Based on the teachings of B.K.S. Iyengar, this style approaches yoga in a more scientific and therapeutic manner. Props are used extensively, and poses are held for a longer duration to perfect alignment.
Good for: Those with a keen interest in anatomy, yoga’s technical aspects, and subtle movement.
Created in the 1980’s, the popular Jivamukti borrows from several styles of yoga, including vinyasa. It is physically intense and emphasizes yogic philosophy. Postures are taught alongside spiritual teaching, chanting, meditation, breath work, and music.
Good for: Those looking for a modern approach to spirituality and a physically demanding practice.
This style of yoga focuses on arousing the kundalini: the untapped energy that lies dormant at the base of the spine. Postures are combined with breathing exercises to intensify the effects of each pose. Kundalini also emphasizes mantras, chanting, and meditation.
Good for: Those looking for more of an awareness-based yoga.
While hatha traditionally means the physical side of yoga that makes use of postures, hatha style refers to a slow-paced practice with long holds and no flow between postures. This gentler approach to yoga is less demanding on the body, yet still strengthening and relaxing.
Good for: Those interested in a more traditional form of yoga.
Also called flow yoga, vinyasa yoga is known for its fluidity and creative sequencing. Each movement is linked to the breath, and it’s often fast-paced and physically challenging.
Good for: Those who love diversity and finding creative expression through yoga.
Power yoga is a challenging, fitness-based style of yoga born in the 1990’s. Inspired by ashtanga, power yoga is also rigorous but doesn’t stick to a set sequence. It’s a sweat-inducing, workout type of yoga.
Good for: Athletic types, those already in shape, and those looking for a purely physical practice.
Although you won’t necessarily practice the following two styles, you might feel drawn to teaching them:
Kids can greatly benefit from yoga, and poses and class structure are modified to incorporate music, stories, and games.
Good for: Those who love working with children. This is often considered a specialty training, and you may need to first complete a general 200-hour YTTC.
As long as women keep getting pregnant, prenatal yoga will never go out of style. Postures must be carefully modified for prenatal and postpartum care.
Good for: Women who love pregnancy, including doulas, midwives, and those wanting to add yoga to their prenatal care modalities. This is often considered a specialty training, and you many need to first complete a general 200-hour YTTC.
The list doesn’t stop at these nine styles, so keep an open mind the next time you hit the studio. Once you find a style that you love to practice, you’ll be able to teach others with passion and enthusiasm