Yoga is a wonderful way to relax your mind and body — but there are in fact many different types of yoga to choose from. Which one you go for depends on your aims and your circumstances.
For example, chair yoga is good for the elderly or infirm who cannot get down on to the floor, while prenatal yoga is designed for mums-to-be.
Below is a complete list of the 21 most common types of yoga practiced around the world today, to help you choose which one is best for you.
This type combines acrobatics, yoga and Thai massage. It is for the fit and flexible and you work with a partner who must have great empathy with you as looking out for each other’s safety is of utmost importance.
There are three elements – inversions, flows and balances when you balance on your partner’s legs. Acroyoga develops poise and self-confidence.
2 Aerial Yoga
This is a new type of yoga founded in the USA and it uses a fabric hammock as a trapeze. It is designed for beginners right through to those who are more experienced.
The circus hammock is used as a tool to support the body to help students achieve traditional yoga positions. Aerial yoga calms the nervous system through stretches, deep breathing and letting go of stressful thoughts.
3 Anusara Yoga
This is a modern form of hatha yoga developed in 1997 by American John Friend. It lost popularity when Friend was involved in a sex scandal connected to his students and several Anusara teachers resigned.
But it is gradually gaining popularity again. It concentrates on the correct alignment of the body to avoid injury and is designed for those who want well-being in both body and soul. Anusara means “flowing with grace”.
4 Ashtanga Yoga
Ashtanga is a form of yoga that involves synchronizing breathing correctly with a series of postures of the body to produce internal heat and purifying sweat. The sweat acts as a detox of the body’s muscles and organs.
Ashtanga yoga is one of the most popular forms of yoga and improves circulation and gives you a light, strong body and a calm mind.
5 Bikram Yoga
Bikram yoga, also known as “hot yoga”, comprises twenty-six different postures in sequence and is suitable for all ages. It always takes place in a heated room and is designed to heal both the body and the mind.
It was developed by the founder of the Yoga College of India Bikram Choudhury and due to the heat men do it bare-chested and women wear bikini tops or sports bras and shorts.
6 Chair Yoga
This is not officially recognized as a type of yoga as it is a gentle form that takes place sitting down or using a chair for support.
It does mean the elderly or disabled can do some form of yoga exercise with the use of a chair when they are unable to attend a normal yoga class. Chair yoga achieves both mental and physical fitness.
7 Forrest Yoga
Forrest Yoga was developed by healer Ana Forrest and is based on yoga from the east that is now applied the western world.
It is a very intense and physical form of yoga designed to cleanse the body and mind, getting rid of any toxins and giving students a sense of freedom. They are challenged to rid themselves of any emotional or mental blocks that are limiting their life and they are taught to breathe deeply and connect with their body.
8 Hatha Yoga
Hatha yoga is the most common form of yoga and is excellent for beginners due to the slow pace and simple breathing exercises.
Hatha comes from the Sanskrit “ha” meaning sun and “tha” meaning moon and the idea is to unite two opposites, the positive and the negative like the sun and the moon.
Hatha relieves stress and promotes a deeper relaxation whilst providing physical exercise.
9 Integral Yoga
Integral yoga combines several forms of yoga to purify and strengthen the mind and body. It was developed by Sri Aurobindo in the early 1900s with the aim of transforming the student’s entire being.
This includes the physical side, the vital and psychic elements of the body and the spiritual. So unlike other yogas which specifically work on specific aspects, integral yoga aims to purify the entire body and mind.
10 Iyengar Yoga
Named after the developer B.K.S. Iyengar, this style is based on the eight limbs of yoga. It concentrates on the detail, precision and alignment of posture and breath control.
The result is the body gains strength, mobility and stability by maintaining the correct posture throughout all the exercises.
Iyengar yoga students have also said by doing the classes it has cured various ailments although this has never been medically proven.
11 Kripalu Yoga
Kripalu yoga combines body, mind and energy using breathing techniques, deep relaxation and meditation. It works on the muscles as well as the respiratory, circulatory, digestive, immune and nervous systems to produce self-empowerment and personal growth.
Kripalu yoga students are taught to connect with their inner being to reduce stress, anxiety and blood pressure levels.
12 Kundalini Yoga
Kundalini is also known as laya yoga and it dates back to 1935. It was influenced by the tantra and shakta schools of Hunduism and derives its name from awakening kundalini energy through the regular practice of meditation, chanting mantra and yoga asana.
It is known as as the “yoga of awareness” and its aim is to cultivate the spiritual potential in students so they uphold values, speak the truth and develop a compassion for serving and healing others.
13 Jivamukti Yoga
Jivamukti means “liberation while living” and it was developed in New York in 1984. This type of yoga is quite physically intense and will appeal to people who like a good workout combined with chanting and philosophizing.
Each class has a special theme explored through yoga scripture, chanting, meditation and music. Celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Sting are devotees of Jivamukti Yoga.
14 Moksha/Modo Yoga
Founded in Toronto, Canada in 2004 Moksha/Modo Yoga is also known as Moksha Hot Yoga. It is challenging but is designed to support lifelong health.
It comprises a set of forty different poses beginning with stand-up exercises before moving on to the floor poses and it always takes place in a hot room.
Classes always end with Savasana which is a ten-minute resting pose to allow the body to understand the information it has received through practicing yoga.
15 Prenatal Yoga
This is an ideal way to prepare for the birth of your baby. It will help you prepare for labor and promotes your baby’s health as well as reducing your own stress.
It decreases lower back pain and nausea and you will find you sleep better.
Prenatal yoga comprises a series of exercises involving breathing, stretching and mental focusing.
16 Restorative Yoga
This form of yoga concentrates on physical, mental and emotional relaxation using the aid of props. These props help students to maintain their balance whilst stimulating their body.
Restorative yoga provides healing for the mind and body and eliminates fatigue and stress. It is particularly good for people suffering from emotional depression following a divorce, bereavement or job loss.
17 Sivananda Yoga
Sivananda yoga is based on the teachings of Swami Sivananda and focuses on retaining the body’s vitality and reducing the risk of disease by natural processes.
It comprises five elements – exercise, breathing, relaxation, diet (a vegetarian yogic diet is encouraged), plus positive thinking and meditation.
Non-vegetarians can join a class but they will be advised on the correct food to eat to achieve results.
18 Stand-up Paddle Yoga
Stand-up paddleboard yoga to give it its correct name provides fun whilst aiming to improve balance, focus and core strength.
Beginners start by learning on a board on a sandy beach or in a swimming pool until they have built up the strength and flexibility in their anatomy to cope with the ocean.
This form of yoga dates back to the 1940s when surfers off Waikiki beach stood on their boards to navigate the waves using a long paddle.
19 Viniyoga Yoga
This type of yoga is based on the guru/student premise where the teacher works individually with the student giving them a personalized program for them to follow.
This is based on the age, health, physical condition and any injuries the student may have suffered from or is currently suffering.
Each session focuses on the correct alignment of the body and breathing correctly while holding different poses plus chanting and meditation.
20 Vinyasa Yoga
This is a modern-day version of the classical Indian yoga designed to make you extremely flexible. It is a series of movements synchronized to the breath and the poses run together so it becomes almost like a dance, which is why it is sometimes referred to as flow yoga.
Vinyasa refers to alignment of movement and breath and with this type some students become so flexible they can wind their leg round the back of their head.
21 Yin Yoga
Yin yoga is a more meditative form of yoga which is slow-paced. Poses are held for five minutes or more and apply moderate stress to the tendons and ligaments.
Originating from China, the aim is to increase the circulation in the joints and improve flexibility as well as connecting students with their inner self. This relieves any stress they are feeling and they will leave each class feeling calm.