Hatha: The term “hatha” is traditionally defined as the “yoga of force”, which relates less to a forceful state and more to a state of discipline in the practice of asana (yoga poses). In practical terms “hatha” is the foundation of all asana practiced in yoga including Vinayasa flow and power.
It stresses on deep understanding of the mechanics of the body, and uses asanas, to cultivate higher dimensions of energy by the body. Hatha Yoga helps one to create a body that is not a hurdle in one’s life rather, by practicing this yoga, one can change and enhance the way one thinks, feels and experiences the life. Emphasis is placed on the breath while holding poses statically for 5-10 breaths, then simply moving into the next pose.
Practitioners of Hatha yoga use physical alignment and breathing control to achieve equilibrium between the active body and its universe. The resulting harmony results into physical strength, physiological health and emotional well-being.
“The whole purpose of Hatha yoga is to purify and control our senses. It is the ultimate science of helping us discover what lies behind the apparent reality of body and mind.”-Krishna Pattabhi Jois
Ashtanga Yoga: Ashtanga yoga is named after the term given in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras for the eight-fold path of yoga, or ashtanga, meaning “eight-limbed” in Sanskrit.
This type of yoga stresses the importance of daily practice of a set series of movements. There are six series of Ashtanga yoga sequences, which a person progresses through at their own pace. This dynamic, physically demanding practice synchronizes breath and movement to produce an internal heat designed to purify the body. Ashthanga yoga, is great for building core strength and toning the body. This yoga is considered a vigorous, orderly practice and, as such, is more suited to persons who want a dynamic and rigorous yoga practice.
“The full Ashthanga system practiced with devotion leads to freedom within one’s heart.” -Krishna Pattabhi Jois
Vinyasa Yoga: Vinayasa is a style of yoga characterized by stringing postures together so that you move from one to another, seamlessly, using breath. Inhalation is usually connected to upward, open movements, while exhalation is often tied to downward movements or twists. This is also commonly referred to as “flow” yoga.
The variable nature of Vinayasa Yoga helps to develop a more balanced body as well as prevent repetitive motion injuries that can happen if you are always doing the same thing every day. While Vinayasa, or Vinyasa-Krama, dates back to the Vedic age—the earliest period of yoga thousands of years ago—it referred to a series, or sequence of steps, to make something sacred.
Iyengar Yoga: It is a form of Hatha yoga that has an emphasis on detail, precision and alignment in the performance of posture (asana) and breath control (pranayama). In this yoga, person often rest in child's pose between postures, unlike in flow yoga. Each posture is held for extended periods while the student adjusts their body and corrects their alignment, which helps to build strength and stamina.
This type of yoga emphasizes on the precise physical alignment of the body within particular postures. Often, props, such as blocks and belts, are used to ensure students can practice the postures with correct alignment and safely develop their yoga practice over time.
Iyengar yoga builds strength, flexibility and body awareness through longer holds of asanas with the focus always on alignment. It is considered more accessible than more dynamic forms of yoga for beginners who are not used to such physical exertion.
Sivananda Yoga: Involving ‘The Art of Relaxation’, this type of yoga is a classical and holistic approach to Hatha Yoga that stretches and tones the whole body. It involves regular periods of relaxation and yogic breathing techniques, or pranayama.
This type of yoga empowers the mind and body through a unified motion of internal energy through meditation and relaxation techniques. Channelling relaxation in your body and enhancing self-awareness have a positive effect on your life and improve your overall well-being. The goal of the Sivananda yoga system is to ensure that the body retains its vitality over the years, thereby lowering the risk of disease.
The five basic principles covered by Sivananda yoga are:
Vegetarian diet (sattvic diet)
Positive thinking coupled with meditation (vedanta and dhyana)
A session of this style typically starts off with relaxing asanas, such as savasana and kapalabhati before going through a series of other basic asanas.
“The mind is responsible for the feelings of pleasure and pain. Control of the mind is the highest Yoga”- Sivananda
Power yoga: Power yoga is an active and athletic and is more of a western style of yoga. Power yoga is more body focused. It usually includes far more intense flowing yoga poses than chanting and meditation. It feeds the muscles and works on the core and streamlines one’s body, building the core muscles. Power yoga tends toward strength building because the poses are held longer.
It is a great way to combine the mental, physical, and spiritual benefits of yoga with high intensity, calorie-burning exercises. It strengthens one’s body, increases flexibility, and promotes stamina and weight loss as well as improving posture and balance. Building lean muscles is effective for weight loss, and it also indicates an increased metabolism, which means a burn out of a considerable amount of fat. There can be a vigorous workout that burns calories and can help keep you fit.
Power yoga has become popular in the Western world for its fitness-centric approach to yoga.
Yin Yoga: Yin Yoga is a slower-paced, more meditative version of the popular physical and spiritual discipline of yoga. In Yin yoga, the poses are held for a long period of time (typically three to five minutes or longer) to target the connective tissues (such as the ligaments) rather than focusing on the muscles. As a result, the asanas are more passive holds, with little muscular engagement.
Yin Yoga has its roots in China, unlike the more popular and active yoga disciplines, which originated in India. It was founded on the Taoist theory of yin and yang – opposite concepts that, together, represent balance. Yin is stable and passive, while yang is changing and active. The yin poses, therefore, are passive and performed while seated or in a reclining position. In this yoga, one stretches and targets both the deep connective tissues between the muscles, and the fascia throughout the body. The aim is to increase circulation in the joints and improve flexibility as the poses stretch and exercise the bone and joint areas.