What Are the Different Types of Yoga?

Dan Cavallari

Yoga is the practice of meditation and physical centering in which a participant will focus on breathing and stretching to reach a state of calmness and insight. Various types of yoga exist, each one focusing on a different technique, process, or focus to achieve the stated goals. Hatha is one of the most basic types of yoga, and it often acts as the foundation for other yoga types. It focuses on gentle stretches and basic meditation techniques. Bikram yoga is more intense, and it is usually held in heated locations that can reach temperatures of up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit (40.5 degrees Celsius).

Woman in an upward bow yoga pose.
Woman in an upward bow yoga pose.

The heat in Bikram yoga is intended to help loosen muscles and prevent injuries during stretching or posing. It can also work to detoxify the body. Of all the types of yoga, this is the only one that uses a heated environment, and participants will need to make sure they hydrate properly before and after a session. Some participants have passed out or otherwise feel ill due to the heat, so this type of yoga may not be for everyone.

There are various types of yoga.
There are various types of yoga.

Vinyasa yoga is one of the types of yoga that focuses on linking movements and breathing to form a specific flow. Breathing and movements are often tied together, and a person will breathe out during certain movements and in during others. It is an especially active form of yoga, and while beginners may be able to perform some movements, other movements are intended for advanced yoga practitioners instead. It is similar to Ashtanga yoga, which also uses a flow of stretches and breathing exercises. Ashtanga is more intense, however, and is usually only suitable for advanced yoga participants. The sometimes fierce movements are intended to heat the muscles and encourage detoxification. Ashtanga is one of the more athletic types of yoga, and a participant will need to be in good shape in order to participate.

Some types of yoga are focused on meditation techniques.
Some types of yoga are focused on meditation techniques.

Kripalu is another of the types of yoga. A person participating in Kripalu yoga will focus more on working into and holding specific positions and meditating for extended periods of time. During the first stage of this yoga experience, a person will learn the poses and begin to hold them. In the second stage, the person will try to focus his or her thinking, and in the third stage, that person will begin to meditate in order to relax and think clearly.

Bikram yoga provides a challenging workout and is usually held in a heated space.
Bikram yoga provides a challenging workout and is usually held in a heated space.
Some practitioners of ashtanga yoga like to attend class, while others opt for a more solitary practice space.
Some practitioners of ashtanga yoga like to attend class, while others opt for a more solitary practice space.

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