The art of yoga encompasses a surprising variety of styles. With their distinct differences, yoga styles vary according to what is being accomplished during the class. A beginning yoga student might be overwhelmed by the style choices presented when choosing a class. Having an overview on the most common forms of yoga is an excellent way to get an idea of the type of yoga that suits you.
Ashtanga or Power Yoga is the most commonly taught form of yoga practice. This style includes a series of poses that are repeated in a particular order during the class. The poses are changed rapidly and the forms flow into one another. This type of class is quite physically demanding as there is no real rest between forms. Ashtanga yoga is primarily a physical class although breathing and meditation exercise are incorporated at the end of the forms.
Iyengar yoga is a style that is concerned primarily with body alignment. These classes incorporate objects like blocks, straps or yoga blankets to help align a body for a particular pose. The poses are held for much longer periods of time than in the Ashtanga style. Breathing and meditation are a larger part of Iyengar classes. This style of yoga is hugely popular all over the world and its instructors have the one of the highest levels of education.
Kali Ray Triyoga incorporates the flowing forms that are common to Ashtanga yoga and the meditative practices of several other styles. This style combines posture, focus and breath control to create a program that is systematized by level. Kali Ray Triyoga allows a student to work at a level that he or she chooses. The poses can be tremendously challenging or can be modified for students with physical difficulties. Kali Ray Triyoga is popular with both elderly students and the very young due to its flexible styling.
Viniyoga is a style that allows a yogi or yoga instructor to work with one student at a time. This individual attention requires the instructor to create a personalized program for each student. The yoga class is designed to benefit a student because it is tailored for her alone. Private classes are often more expensive than group classes, so Viniyoga is not as widely practiced as some of the other styles.
Kripalu yoga is similar to Viniyoga in that it is tailored to individual students. This style allows the student to work according to her own body’s limits. Emphasis is placed on body alignment, proper breath and then coordinating the breathing with the movements. Kripalu yoga is practiced in classes of several students, but each student moves at an individual pace. The courses are divided into stages. The first stage allows the student time to learn the pose and body alignment. The second stage emphasizes holding each pose for an extended period of time.
Although yoga styles vary, the essence of yoga resides in each style equally. No matter which style you choose, yoga is a beneficial addition to any life.