The different styles of Yoga

Nov 8, 2022 | Meditation, Yoga | 0 comments

There are MANY different styles of “Yoga”, each with their own intentions and benefits.

Below, you’ll see some descriptions for some of the ways in which yoga is practiced though asana, however this is not the only way to practice Yoga. A yoga practice can absolutely be a practice without a single pose! Patajali’s Yoga Sutras is considered to be a practical “bible” for every Yogi and Yogini. In this Yoga Textbook, he details 8 Limbs of Yoga as 8 different ways in which you can practice Yoga.

Asana- the styles of yoga commonly seen on a Timetable at a yoga studio, is but 1 of those observances to practice Yoga. The other 7? Not some commonly considered a “yoga” practice even though they do allow you to come closer to a spiritual path- and sometimes, in my opinion, moreso than some of the asana practices will guide you to.

So what are ALL the ways in which you can practice yoga?

1. Yama: Correct behaviors in everything you do

2. Niyama: The principals by which you should life your life by

3. Asana: The postures that prepare the body

4. Pranayama: Breath exercises that expand life-force

5. Pratyahara: Internal awareness and turning the attention within

6. Dharana: Effortless focused attention on a single point

7. Dhyana: Achieving meditation

8. Samadhi: Unity with the Divine

As you can see in this extensive list, there are many ways to practice yoga, and some without a focus on the Asana at all. A successful yoga class that guides you on a spiritual path will include elements that touch on most of these observances. You may enter a class that guides you into a Pratyahara practice before exploring some Pranayama and following with some Asana while discussing a concept of Niyama. Engaging in just a pranayama practice is still a form of yoga. Being out in nature and finding Dharana amongst the trees could be a form of yoga. 

So do you have to go to an Asana class to experience yoga? No! And does it mean that you’re not a Yogi or a spiritual being if you don’t enjoy moving your body in an Asana practice? No! If you have found another way in which yoga touches your life- fantastic!! Do that.

If you are looking for a yoga practice that supports you in where you’re at and where you want to go, but don’t know where to start, here’s a bit of a break-down of the styles of Yoga that I either teach, or I’ve experienced.

Starting with the styles in which I teach am train in:

VINYASA: I completed my 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training specifically in Vinyasa Yoga. Vinyasa is considered to be a style of yoga that is a flow of movement. Each asana (pose) is in flow and unison with the breath. Often times the breath leads into a new pose as you flow from one pose to the next. The expression of Vinyasa is up to the teacher and their unique style. It could be a slow Vinyasa that has the concept of the flow with movement but also allows time in each pose for breath and alignment awareness. It could also be an uplifting and strengthening class with more challenging poses and faster flows from one movement to the next. Again- this is where each teachers flavor will vary and shine here. Either way, when you see a Vinyasa class on a yoga timetable, you can expect to move and flow. It’s fantastic for cleansing and clearing energy, to feel an uplift and bonus is- if there’s a pose you don’t like, you won’t be in it for long. 

YIN YOGA: A completely different style than the above, Yin yoga calls for a hold in each chosen asana. When entering into each pose, it is likely you will hold it for around 3-5 minutes. This is very intentional. The way Yin Yoga works is to create a phase change within the fascia (your connective tissue) around a muscle. Through creating a stressor on a certain muscle (that first edge where you feel the muscle stretching) and allowing time, your fascia melts away. Be warned here though- holding poses isn’t necessarily easy. Often times when we bring our physical body into stillness, it allows everything internal to become louder. The challenge is in resisting the need to move away from discomfort, to fidget or to move and instead- stay. Find that sweet spot within the pose that suits to your body, then allow your breath to open space and to cleanse out any tension held in the body. A completely nourishing practice physically, mentally and emotionally when done with kindness and compassion for your flexibility limits.

Moving onto the yoga styles I have experienced, yet don’t teach. 

HATHA YOGA: A slower, more gentle approach to an asana practice, Hatha involved a level of breath awareness and physical postures aimed at bringing balance into the body and mind. A great class for beginners compared to the more vinyasa and power styles of yoga. Often there is time taken to enter into a pose, time taken to find alignment and find a breath pattern, before moving onto another pose.

BIKRAM YOGA: A strong and challenging expression of Yoga that involves a sequenced set of poses. Every Bikram class will essentially be the same, with the same poses each class in the same sequential order. This does have it’s benefits in knowing what you’re going to get every time but doesn’t have the variety of classes you get with other styles. Lots of research does support Bikram yoga in being successful at recovery after injury, building flexibility and range of movement- if you can manage to cope with the heat. All Bikram yoga studios are heated rooms, sometimes up to 40 degrees with most of them providing 90 minute classes- so make sure you have a towel and a bottle to sip from during class. You may also see Bikram Yoga expressed as “26-postures and 2 breaths”. This is the same class structure without the affiliation to Bikram himself. I gave it 2 months before I moved on. 

POWER YOGA: Similar to your more movement based asana practices, Power Yoga is often a high intensity class focusing on building strength and stability in the body. Think some longer holds, some quicker flow sequences, more advanced poses, handstands, balances poses and bang for buck. You sometimes now see, particularly in Western countries, Hot Power Yoga classes. Honestly, in my experience, this is sometimes where yoga has become more of an exercise routine rather than a spiritual practice and I moved away from these studios quickly too. 

KUNDALINI YOGA: I find Kundalini Yoga completely next level- it’s even a little hard to explain but here goes. Kundalini Yoga works more within the energy centers to bring balance, harmony and cultivate a certain power from within. Unlike some yoga classes that may explore the main 7 Chakra’s in the body, Kundalini goes beyond that, working with a huge range of energetic systems to support the desired class theme and outcome. When you enter into a Kundalini Yoga class for the first time, be prepared for a completely unique expression. Each class will contain an element of mantra, mudra, movement, kriya and more, all aimed at self-realisation. If you can let go of expectations and lean into the uniqueness of it, it’s MAGIC!!


I hope this helps you to either- find peace if you’ve tried an Asana practice that didn’t serve you, or find openness to try a different style of practice that serves you more. Either way, don’t stop exploring Yoga. Just because 1 style didn’t work, or 1 class didn’t resonate, try something different. Hopefully one day you’ll land in a class where the teacher just says all the things you need to hear and you touch that spiritual part of yourself that is waiting to be held and supported.


Written with love

Karina xx 


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