When it comes to yoga styles, there’s something for everyone—whether you prefer a flow more intense than a gym workout or barely like to stray from Savasana.
Here, we will explore several styles of yoga that are covered under beYogi Insurance Plus. We will explain their key features, who these yoga styles are best suited for, and how to get certified to teach each style.
Not sure which style of yoga is right for you? Take our styles quiz to find your niche.
Popularized by Pattabhi Jois in the 1970s, Ashtanga is a rigorous, physically demanding style of yoga. It’s similar to Vinyasa in that each movement is linked to the breath. However, in Ashtanga, poses are always practiced in a strict order, meaning that every class is the same.
What are the key features of Ashtanga yoga?
Ashtanga yoga postures are grouped into six series; each series building on the one before. The primary series includes about 75 postures that are said to clear out toxins and cleanse the energy channels.
The more advanced series include challenging postures, requiring strength and flexibility. Like Vinyasa yoga, the postures flow from one to the next, but always in a particular order. Classes are usually heated and fast-paced, full of vinyasas, and filled with the sound of ujjayi breathing.
Who should practice Ashtanga yoga?
Ashtanga is great for those who like order, repetition, and physically demanding yoga. While some might find the repetitiveness boring, others use it to focus.
Those with fierce determination, good health, and a goal-oriented mind may find Ashtanga to be a good fit, while others who are more competitive may be better suited for a more fluid style of yoga.
What do I have to do to get certified to teach Ashtanga yoga?
The only official Ashtanga certification is in Mysore, India at the Shri K. Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute. There are unofficial certification programs throughout the world, but this is frowned upon by the die-hard Ashtanga community.
Bikram yoga is a trademarked style with 26 yoga poses and two breathing exercises. The sequence never changes and the room is always heated to 105 degrees, so prepare to sweat.
What are the key features of Bikram yoga?
Bikram classes are hot, hot, hot!
This particular style is known as the original “hot yoga”. The high temperatures are said to make the body limber—great for flushing out impurities and twisting into challenging postures.
It’s a very structured style of yoga and each class is exactly the same. The 26 yoga postures include some basics such as Tree pose, Corpse pose, Cobra pose, and Camel pose. As well as more difficult poses such as Dancer pose, Full Locust pose, and Standing Head to Knee pose. Bikram studio classes are silent and usually have mirrors to help keep an eye on alignment.
First time attending a Bikram class? Well, get ready! You can expect a challenge.
Who should practice Bikram yoga?
Bikram classes are great for those looking to sweat out toxins and lose weight. Bikram’s structure can also be useful for people who need an extra discipline in their yoga practice.
This particular style is not ideal for those with injuries, the less physically inclined, skin issues, acidity, or any kind of heat-related imbalances.
What do I have to do to get certified to teach Bikram yoga?
Bikram certification is a nine-week residential program held in locations such as Thailand and Hawaii.
Students should have at least six months of Bikram yoga classes under their belt before attending, as you are expected to participate in two daily classes of Bikram while attending yoga teacher training. As for cost, certification is upward of $12,000, but it includes accommodations and food during the nine-week stay.
While Hatha traditionally means the physical side of yoga that makes use of postures, the Hatha style refers to a practice that’s much slower with longer holds and less of a flow.
This gentler approach to yoga is not as physically demanding as the more popular modern styles, but it’s still strengthening and relaxing.
What are the key features of Hatha yoga?
Hatha is a term for all yoga, but Hatha-specific classes feature long holds that last from 15 seconds to several minutes. These holds are very beneficial for the internal organs and the mind.
Classes are generally slower and much less vigorous than Vinyasa, Ashtanga, and Bikram. They can still build heat with multiple rounds of Sun Salutations and as many advanced postures as the teacher includes.
Quite often, the challenge comes from holding a simple posture rather than quickly flowing through something more advanced. Classes traditionally include pranayama and meditation, making for a well-rounded yoga practice.
What do i have to do to get certified to teach Hatha yoga?
While most yoga teacher training camps (YTTC) are vinyasa-specific, Hatha trainings are available.
Any program that doesn’t explicitly specify a particular style will probably teach Hatha yoga. Hatha YTTC’s include teachings on pranayama and meditation along with asana. India provides the most authentic Hatha yoga YTTC experience, where Hatha yoga trainings abound.
Based on the teachings of B.K.S. Iyengar, this style approaches yoga in a scientific and therapeutic manner. Props are used extensively, and poses are held for long durations of time in order to achieve perfect alignment.
What are the key features of Iyengar yoga?
Iyengar yoga’s trademark is its use of props: all kinds of blocks, chairs, blankets, and belts. They’re used to go deeper into poses, facilitate longer holds, and draw attention to specific aspects of yoga postures. Props are used not only therapeutically and by beginners, but by intermediate and advanced practitioners too.
Concise alignment is another key feature of Iyengar yoga, used to correct the bad posture that we tend to develop over time. This style of yoga is also considered an active meditation.
Besides focusing on correctly aligned asanas, Iyengar yoga incorporates pranayama, meditation, and yoga philosophy.
Who should practice Iyengar yoga?
Those with a strong interest in anatomy and alignment. Iyengar yoga is the most technical of all yoga practices and is best for those who appreciate subtle movement.
Potential teachers of Iyengar should be prepared to become devotees, as they’re asked to teach and practice Iyengar yoga only.
What do I have to do to get certified to teach lyengar yoga?
Iyengar yoga has the most intensive certification process of all yoga styles.
The first requirement is three years of dedicated Iyengar practice as well as a yearlong membership to an official Iyengar association, such as the Iyengar Yoga Association of Los Angeles (IYALA) or the Iyengar Yoga Association of California Southern Region (IYACSR).
Next comes study at one of the several certification centers in the U.S., or a mentorship with a certified Iyengar teacher.
Iyengar yoga has many certification levels that take several years of study to complete. The first level alone lasts between two to five years, and that’s only after passing the introductory level two course that the student is certified to teach.
Only certified Iyengar teachers can use the Iyengar name and teach Iyengar yoga.
Created in the 1980s, Jivamukti borrows from several styles of yoga including Vinyasa. It’s physically intense and emphasizes yogic philosophy. Classes go beyond just the postures, as they include spiritual teaching, chanting, meditation, breathwork, and vibrant music.
What are the key features of Jivamukti yoga?
Jivamukti is based on five tenets: bhakti (devotion), ahimsa (non-violence), nada (sound), dhyana (meditation), and shastra (study) of ancient scriptures. It’s not reduced to the physical yoga practiced in most yoga studios today, but rather strongly focuses on spirituality.
Classes and sequences are always changing and incorporate a “Focus of the Month” to encourage continuous study and a deeper yoga practice. This might include exploring ancient texts or modern spiritual terms.
Who should practice Jivamukti yoga?
Those looking for a modern approach to spirituality, a physically demanding practice, and to be part of a close-knit yoga community. Jivamukti students are strongly encouraged to embrace a spiritual lifestyle, including veganism.
What do I have to do to get certified to teach Jivamukti yoga?
Jivamukti’s founders, Sharon Gannon and David Life, teach 300-hour residential trainings around the world.
The training includes the study of asana, ancient texts, Sanskrit, chanting, and music. After completing their 300-hour course, there’s an 800-hour course taking the study even deeper.
Kundalini yoga focuses on arousing the untapped energy lying dormant at the base of the spine.
Repetitive and vigorous movements are combined with breathwork for an intensely energizing effect. This style of yoga also emphasizes mantras, chanting, and meditation.
What are the key features of Kundalini yoga?
The goal of Kundalini yoga is to awaken the kundalini a dormant energy residing within. This energy is traditionally represented as a coiled serpent seated at the base of the spine. When it uncoils, it rises up a channel within the spinal cord and passes through the chakras.
Once it reaches the seventh chakra or sahasrara one attains yoga’s ultimate goal of spiritual enlightenment. This awakening results in the complete evolution of the body, mind, and soul.
Most Kundalini yoga taught in the U.S. belongs to the lineage of Yogi Bhajan. Proclaimed a master of Kundalini yoga at the age of 16, Yogi Bhajan brought Kundalini yoga to the West in 1969. Many but not all of his followers are also Sikhs, hence the white turbans and attire.
Kundalini classes involve mantra, pranayama, kriya, relaxation, and meditation. They can be vigorous and even strenuous, challenging the nervous and endocrine systems, all while testing the limitations of the ego. While we all have the potential for a kundalini awakening, Kundalini yoga aims to speed up this process.
Who should practice Kundalini yoga?
Those looking for an awareness-based style of yoga that has an immediate energetic impact. Kundalini yoga offers a tight-knit community for those who are dedicated to its teachings.
What do I have to do to get certified to teach Kundalini yoga?
Most U.S. Kundalini yoga certification courses are associated with Yogi Bhajan. The Kundalini Research Institute officially promotes Yogi Bhajan’s teachings and offers YTTC’s in 52 countries.
There are several levels of teacher training. The first is the level one KRI Aquarian Teacher Training Program; a 220-hour course that satisfies Yoga Alliance’s RYT 200-hour requirement. A level two practitioner and a level three teacher course are also offered.
Power yoga is a challenging, workout style of yoga born in the 1990’s. Inspired by Ashtanga, Power yoga is also rigorous, but doesn’t stick to a set sequence. This style of yoga mainly focuses on the abdominal region, all while making you sweat.
What are the key features of Power yoga?
The term Power yoga was coined in the 1990’s by its founder, Bryan Kest. It’s been adapted and trademarked by many other teachers since.
Like its Ashtanga roots, Power yoga is intense, fast-paced, and far from gentle. Classes vary from teacher-to-teacher, but generally involve moving with the breath, Sun Salutations, vinyasas, and big backbends. This style of yoga is equated to “gym yoga” as it usually skips the chanting, meditation, and spiritual talks found in the more traditional styles of yoga.
Who should practice Power yoga?
Athletic types, the physically fit and uninjured, and those looking for a purely physical practice.
What do I have to do to get certified to teach Power yoga?
Bryan Kest offers 40-hour teacher trainings across the globe. Being such a short certification, however, a 200-hour YTTC should be completed first by anyone genuinely interested in teaching this style.
The Baptiste Institute, another propagator of Power yoga, holds four tiers of certification across the country beginning at 200 hours.
Prenatal yoga is just as it sounds: designed for pregnant women. Poses are modified so that they’re safe for both mother and baby.
What are the key features of Prenatal yoga?
While the early days of pregnancy don’t require too many yoga alterations, the second and third trimester often do.
Prenatal yoga is the safest way for an expectant mother to practice and stay limber, prevent back pain, and most importantly keep her mind happy and calm. Plus, Prenatal yoga can make labor itself much easier. Breathwork and hip openers prime the body for childbirth, and yoga can help reduce the chance of complications.
Aside from its physical benefits, prenatal classes create a community for expectant mothers. While fears and physical challenges may make their way into pregnancy, many mothers find emotional support and motivation from their prenatal yoga teacher and fellow yoga students.
Who should practice Prenatal yoga?
Pregnant women who’d like to maintain a yoga practice throughout pregnancy, pregnant women who are new to yoga and want a smoother, healthier pregnancy, and pregnant women looking for peer support throughout the process.
In regards to teaching, prenatal is perfect for mothers who’d like to support others in their birthing process.
What do I have to do to get certified to teach Prenatal yoga?
Most prenatal yoga teacher trainings are around 85 hours with a 200-hour YTTC prerequisite. Trainings are widely available in any city with an active yoga community.
The curriculum is very specific to pregnancy, including poses and modifications for each trimester and even education on the birthing process.
Much like Iyengar yoga, Restorative yoga makes full use of props. However, there’s a stark contrast between the two. Here, props are used to facilitate complete relaxation for the ultimate stress-relief, whereas Iyengar focuses more on the perfection of poses.
What are the key features of Restorative yoga?
In Restorative yoga, poses are set up so that there’s no muscular contraction. The body might be in a backbend, but the generous use of blankets, blocks, and bolsters make the stretch passive.
The spine is moved in all directions—forward, backward, and side-to-side, but most poses are in seated or reclined positions.
Prop-supported inversions are also included as part of a well-balanced sequence. Poses can be held for as long as 20 minutes, so that the body and mind get a chance to find balance.
Restorative yoga brings relaxation to a very intensive yoga practice. It’s the kind of class that’s not only perfect for unwinding on a Sunday night before a week of work, but also to open up physical and emotional blockage.
Who should practice Restorative yoga?
Anyone who is recovering from an injury, chronically ill, under stress, or looking to balance a more intensive yoga practice. Everyone could use a bit of Restorative yoga in their life, which explains why Savasana is one of the yoga community’s most beloved yoga poses.
What do I have to do to get certified to teach Restorative yoga?
Restorative YTTC’s are taught across the country. They’re usually offered in a short 20 to 40 hour course that builds upon a regular 200-hour YTTC.
Judith Lasater, who’s credited with popularizing Restorative yoga, offers her own certification program called Relax and Renew. Courses are 20 hours, taught over the span of five days, and offered all over the world.
In terms of energy, yoga styles can be divided into two categories.
‘Yin’ is the more passive form with long holds that foster inner stillness; in contrast to the ‘yang’ forms of intense yoga, such as Ashtanga, Vinyasa, and Power yoga.
What are the key features of Yin yoga?
Yin yoga encourages students to find their edge and to bring the body to the appropriate depth without going too far. Once there, students are invited to remain still and give each pose the time it needs to work on the body’s tissue.
Poses are usually held between one to 20 minutes. This works on the deeper components of the body, such as the connective tissue, ligaments, tendons, fascia, and even the bones. The long holds also foster an inner stillness that lends itself to a meditative asana practice. On the opposite side of the spectrum, Yang yoga practices work on improving the strength and flexibility of the superficial muscles.
Yin yoga is centered around 30 poses with asanas that focus on the region between the navel and knees. Some share traditional yoga Sanskrit names, but many differ completely. Specific sequences are used to target the meridians: the subtle channels described in Chinese medicine, similar to yoga’s nadis.
Who should practice Yin yoga?
Those who like to slow things down and go deeper into certain yoga postures. Yin is also great for teachers looking for a niche, as yin classes are few and far between, but absolutely needed.
What do I have to do to get certified to teach Yin yoga?
The Yin Yoga Institute, which was established by Paulie Zink, offers 100, 200, and 200+ hour yin-based YTTC’s around the country. According to the institute, these are the only official Yin yoga teacher training courses available. Many other yoga schools offer Yin yoga intensives.
Also called flow yoga, Vinyasa is known for its fluidity and creative sequencing. Each movement is linked to the breath, fast-paced, and physically challenging. Vinyasa yoga is one of the most popular styles currently practiced in the U.S.
What are the key features of Vinyasa yoga?
Vinyasa yoga isn’t confined to one particular sequence, dogma, or structure, the style presents a huge range of yoga possibilities and gives teachers plenty of room for creativity.
One Vinyasa class can differ greatly from another, being either fast or slow, alignment-based or not. What all Vinyasa classes do have in common, though, is that the body moves with the breath. Students flow quickly from pose to pose in a dynamic, almost dance-like movement. Each movement corresponds to an inhalation or an exhalation.
For example, students might rise into a standing posture on an inhale, lower into a yoga push up on the next exhale, and then rise into Upward-Facing Dog on the following inhale.
The class would continue in such a flowing rhythm, making it easy to work up a sweat. Classes can also be quite challenging, both in keeping up with the pace and gracefully moving between each posture.
Who should practice Vinyasa yoga?
Those who love diversity and seek creative expression through yoga. Vinyasa yoga is dance-like and its practitioners tend to fall in love with its fluidity.
What do I have to do to get certified to teach Vinyasa yoga?
Certifications in Vinyasa yoga are the most common of all YTTC’s. Many, if not most, yoga certification programs teach their students some form of Vinyasa yoga. They might call it Vinyasa yoga, Flow yoga, or the name of a particular teacher or a school’s trademark style.
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