Hatha Yoga is the physical branch of yoga, involving asanas, or poses, and breathing techniques. Here are 10 variations on Hatha Yoga that you are likely to come across in a yoga center near you.
A new system of yoga, created by John Friend, Anusara means to “step into the current of divine will.” Anusara Yoga is a uniquely integrated approach to Hatha Yoga in which the art of the human spirit blends with the precise science of biomechanics, which involves alignment and motion. This is a very active, intense practice. While it can stand on its own, the Anusara method is starting to be woven into other styles.
Ashtanga, or Astanga
An ancient form of yoga, Ashtanga is intense, athletic and repetitive. It consists of six series of set poses. Traditionally, the same series is done everyday except Saturday and during the Full and New moons. Ashtanga practice includes lots of yoga push-ups and jumping in and out of poses.
Also known as Hot Yoga, Bikram takes place in a room with a temperature of around 110 degrees. This facilitates stretching — and sweating! The class focuses on 26 poses and provides an intense workout. People who are hyper-flexible should be careful to maintain stability around their joints to lower the risk for injury.
Integral Yoga focuses on going within and knowing yourself, living a yogic lifestyle, and taking a more gentle approach to asana practice. The practice includes Pranayama (breathing) and meditation. Some doctors recommend this style for heart patients.
Iyengar is an intense form of yoga that focuses on bringing the body back into alignment through proper form and positioning. It’s taught progressively — from beginner to advanced — and is known for its use of props, such as blocks, straps and blankets. Iyengar is a good form of yoga for beginners, since it provides a solid foundation for the more athletic forms.
This is a new style of yoga which originated in New York City’s East Village. It provides a vigorous asana practice and includes Pranayama, meditation and readings from traditional yogic texts.
Kripalu is a gentler form of Hatha Yoga that encourages the practitioner to learn more about herself physically, mentally and psychologically. It includes asana, Pranayama and meditation.
Power Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Flow Yoga
These three forms are all variations on Ashtanga. Ashtanga can be a very physical yoga workout because of the intense poses. During one of these classes, you can expect to do lots of push-ups and jumping in and out of poses.
Sivananda is very similar to Integral Yoga. A typical class includes set yoga poses, Pranayama and meditation, done very gently. It also includes some chanting.
This form centers more on breathing and the positioning of the spine, rather than the legs or the arms. This style tends to be taught one on one rather than in a group setting and is often used therapeutically.