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Week 30 | Find Your Flow, A Guide To Different Types of Yoga

--Audio Guide--

Not all yoga is created equal. Although the basic tenets of practice include a return to the body and unique development of awareness and higher states of consciousness, there are many roads to be taken. Find one or many that are most fitting. Personally I entered yoga via Vinyasa, but I am now playing around with Kundalini. Which do you practice?

Hatha Yoga

Start With This Practice If You Are A Beginner

What is the point:

Hatha yoga, “is a generic term that refers to any type of yoga that teaches physical postures. Nearly every type of yoga class taught in the West is Hatha yoga” (Gaiam). The postures within Hatha yoga can, “introduce you to your body” (Yoga International). It is known too that the practice of Hatha yoga is to be done in order to strengthen, clean and purify the body and mind, encourage flexibility and balance within the body, and the practice of Hatha helps, “prepares one for meditation” (Somasa Madhi).

What to expect in class:

Hatha yoga is an umbrella that includes most types of yoga that are based in physical form; “It is an old system that includes the practice of asanas (yoga postures) and pranayama (breathing exercises), which help bring peace to the mind and body, preparing the body for deeper spiritual practices such as meditation” (Do Yoga With Me).

This is all in comparison to, “other branches of yoga such as kriya, raja, and karma yoga that are separate from the physical-based yoga practice”(Mind Body Green). “When a class is marketed as Hatha, it generally means that you will get a gentle introduction to the most basic yoga postures. You probably won't work up a sweat in a hatha yoga class, but you should end up leaving class feeling longer, looser, and more relaxed” (Gaiam). Hatha yoga classes are best for beginners since they are usually paced slower than other yoga styles. If you are brand-new to yoga, hatha yoga is a great entry point to the practice” (Mind Body Green).


“When it was created, it was a total life philosophy that incorporated how we relate to our world, to ourselves and how we can attain inner peace” (Do Yoga With Me). The first teachings were recorded around 400 AD.

Ashtanga Yoga

For Those Who Love Order and a Rigorous Practice

What is the point:

The ultimate purpose of the Ashtanga practice is purification of the body and mind. The purpose of Ashtanga is to internally cleanse; “Synchronizing breathing and movement in the [postures] heats the blood, cleaning and thinning it so that it may circulate more freely. Improved blood circulation relieves joint pain and removes toxins and disease from the internal organs” ( and Do You Yoga).


Ashtanga yoga movement is physically demanding, highly structured and based on producing, “an internal heat designed to purify the body. Ashtanga yoga, with its many [poses], is great for building core strength and toning the body. Prepare to sweat” (Yoga Journal).

What to expect in a class:

An Ashtanga session will always flow through the same set of poses; “It's a rigorous style of yoga that follows a specific sequence of postures and is similar to vinyasa yoga, as each style links every movement to a breath. Ashtanga always performs the exact same poses in the exact same order” (Gaiam).


Although based on ancient teaching, the movement was birthed in the 1970s by K Pattabhi Joies, “an Indian yoga teacher and Sanskrit scholar” (Wikipedia);

Iyengar Yoga

If You Like Using Props

What is the point:

Precision is the purpose. Iyengar is, “a form of Hatha yoga that has an emphasis on detail, precision and alignment in the performance of postures and breath control” (Wikipedia).


Practice is said to help develop strength, alignment, mobility and stability.

What to expect in a class:

Props! “Iyengar Yoga is characterized by great attention to detail and precise focus on body alignment. Iyengar pioneered the use of 'props' such as cushions, benches, blocks, straps and sand bags, which function as aids allowing beginners to experience postures more easily and fully than might otherwise be possible without several years of practice. Props also allow elderly, injured, tired or ill students to enjoy the benefits of many postures via fully 'supported' methods requiring less muscular effort” (Wikipedia).

In general, “poses are held for a long time while adjusting the minutiae of the pose to help students perfect their form and go deeper into poses in a safe manner. This style is really great for people with injuries who need to work slowly and methodically”(Mind Body Green).


This form of yoga was developed by B.K.S Iyengar; “Iyengar had health problems when he was younger which improved through his practice. He developed Iyengar yoga as practice which would be suitable for all ages, abilities and disabilities” (Ekhart Yoga).

Vinyasa or Power Yoga

The Cardio of Yoga

What is the point:

The purpose of vinyasa yoga is to, “use the breath to align the body and mind. You'll develop a stronger mind-body connection and grow in strength and flexibility” (Do You Yoga).


Vinyasa yoga benefits include, “increased flexibility, mental focus, cardiovascular conditioning, calorie-burn and muscle development” (Livestrong).

Where Ashtanga yoga, “is a traditional series of postures done in the same order every time - very simply put, Vinyasa is like freestyle Ashtanga” (Amanda Fredi).

What to expect in a class:

Vinyasa is all about flowing through poses and thus is a very athletic form of yoga due to the almost continuous movement it requires; “This type of practice involves synchronizing the breath with a continuous flow of postures (Yoga Outlet). In a Vinyasa class, “the movement is coordinated with your breath and movement to flow from one pose to another” (Mind Body Green).

Unlike Ashtanga where the sequence of postures is the same every time, Vinyasa is more freestyle and flowy; “Ninety percent or more of the poses you do in a flow class are the same ones you’ll find in an Ashtanga class. The major difference is the creative license that the Vinyasa teacher takes in building the sequences and varying the pace between poses” - teachers take creative license in assigning poses however they want to, don’t expect the same class every time (Amanda Fredi).

Origins: Vinyasa “was adapted from Ashtanga yoga in the 1980s” (Mind Body Green).

Bikram or Hot Yoga

If You Want To Sweat

What is the point:

The founder of Bikram believed that, “heat made it easier for students to stretch, and made them feel more euphoric after their practice—so he made it an integral part of the yoga school he started when he moved to the U.S. in the '70s” (Self).

What of it’s detoxification claims? For example, heading to a hot yoga class after a night out on the town? Unfortunately, that is simply a myth; “There just isn’t an evidence base to support that. Sweat’s purpose is to prevent us from overheating; our kidneys and liver are what filter toxins so that we can excrete them through our urine and feces. Sweating in an extra hot yoga studio isn’t going to make those organs work better. (And on that note, if you’re hungover and already dehydrated, sweating a lot most likely won’t make you feel so great)” (Self).

Side note, there is a difference between hot yoga and Bikram; “The only difference between Bikram and hot yoga is that the hot yoga studio deviates from Bikram's sequence in some small way, and so they must call themselves by another name” (Gaiam).

What to expect in class:

A Bikram class includes, “a sequence of set poses in a sauna-like room—typically set to 105 degrees and 40 percent humidity. The sequence includes a series of 26 basic postures, with each one performed twice” (Mind Body Green).


Founder, Bikram Choudhury, developed his namesake practice based on traditional hatha yoga methods in the early 1970s (Wikipedia).

Kundalini Yoga

Awaken Yourself

What is the point:

Kundalini yoga is said to be the yoga of awareness - “the philosophical purpose of Kundalini is to awaken your Higher Self. Each individual, it is believed, is an energy center for God-like creative consciousness”; Kundalini yoga awakens this energy (The Huffington Post). Kundalini energy is, “often associated with sex” and tantric practices (Elephant Journal).

Kundalini energy is said to be coiled at the base of the spine; It is, “situated in the sexual region and represents a sort of 'inner, hidden fire' with a huge potential. It is so powerful that, Kundalini energy or this sexual force has power to, 'enslave or free you from the human limited condition'” (SivaSatki).

As long as your Kundalini energy, “remains asleep, the individual spirit will be limited in its actions, and true knowledge won’t [be attained]. But just like the right key may unlock a door, this [yoga practice] can unlock Kundalini’s door and let the self experience. By using breath retention, focus and mental repetition of certain sounds or certain body positions”, the infinite power of Kundalini energy maybe unraveled and felt along your spine and up and down your chakras” (SivaSatki). In fact, when experiencing a Kundalini awakening, “some have intense physical symptoms, while others experience mainly emotional or psychological symptoms” including involuntary shakes throughout the body (The Kundalini Yoga).

What to expect in class:

“If you like your physical exercise to come with a side of spiritual enlightenment, Kundalini Yoga might be for you”(The Huffington Post). It is, “equal parts spiritual and physical. This style is all about releasing the kundalini energy in your body said to be trapped, or coiled, in the lower spine. These classes really work your core and breathing with fast-moving, invigorating postures and breath exercises. These classes are pretty intense and can involve chanting, mantra, and meditation” (Mind Body Green).

Origins: The origins are not known, but writings on Kundalini yoga have been found dating as far back as 1000 BC - 500 BC.


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