10 Popular Styles of Yoga

Yoga has become a widespread, popular practice for people all over the world.

The ancient practice started in India as a way to reach enlightenment and liberate oneself from suffering. Fast forward thousands and thousands of years, yoga has become increasingly popular with 20 million people practicing in the USA alone!

Yoga has a deep concentration on uniting the mind, body and soul, connecting with one’s inner guide, and removing obstacles that dim our dharma or life purpose. With popularity also comes different methods and teachings, this can be very confusing for a beginner or even a well-seasoned practitioner.

Below is a general outline of the more popular teachings and styles of yoga. It is recommended to try a few different methods, studios, or teachers until one feels challenged, content, and at home with their practice.

♦ Ashtanga Yoga

Ashtanga yoga was created by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois (1915-2009) and is series of progressive postures that synchronize the breath with movement.

Once the series is memorized, the practice becomes a moving meditation, linking each movement with breath, allowing the body to detoxify internally and externally. The practice involves a predefined routine consisting of 4 main parts: the opening sequence, one of the six main series (depending on your level), a back-bending sequence, and then a finishing sequence.

The practice always ends with savasana.

It is highly encouraged to practice the Ashtanga method 6 days a week, resting on moon days (full and new moons), and if menstruating – to take rest for the first 3 days of the cycle to preserve the bodies energy. If followed correctly, this rigorous routine will provide many benefits including: strength building, stamina, flexibility, toned and defined muscles, ability to link breath to movement, clearer mind and ability to focus, confidence, self-esteem, stress reduction, and compassion for those around us and ourselves.

Ashtanga yoga is traditionally practiced in a Mysore Style  setting.

This is a self-practice, at a studio or location, where a teacher is present to teach the series, make adjustments, and aid in progressing further into the practice. The teacher does not lead the entire class out loud. Each student is given individual attention and adjustments. This style of practice can take between 1 -3 hours depending on the level of the yogi, personal speed, and the specific day. Mysore studios or classes can be found throughout the world allowing practitioners to drop-in, tell the teacher their current pose in the series, and then practice under their guidance.

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♦ Iyengar Yoga

Iyengar yoga was created by B.K.S. Iyengar (1918 – 2014) and is a form of Hatha Yoga.

This style has a very strong emphasis on alignment, precision, and detail regarding the posture (asana) and breath control (pranayama). Iyengar yoga is recognized for being the first to utilize props such as blocks, belts, blankets, bolsters, and chairs. These props allow students to practice the postures correctly while simultaneously reducing the risk of injury or strain on the body. The use of heavy props makes this style available to all ages, sizes, ailments, or strengths.

B.K.S. Iyengar is credited with bringing yoga to the West and making it known and available to everyday people like us. His yoga journey began in India under the guidance of Sri T. Krisnamacharya and alongside other well-known disciples (Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, Indra Devi, and T.K.V Desikachar). Iyengar made it his passion and purpose to share his knowledge and wisdom with “householders” so that all could benefit from the healing practice of yoga.

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Popular Styles of Yoga – Pin now, read later!

♦ Bikram Yoga

Bikram yoga was created by Bikram Choudhury and became widely popular in the 1970s.

The practice stems from hatha yoga postures and follows a precise routine.  All Bikram classes are 90 minutes and consist of the same 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises.  The room temperature is usually around 104 F with a humidity of 40%. All classes are taught by a Bikram yoga certified teacher who trained and completed a nine week training course. 

Bikram yoga benefits can include enhanced strength, flexibility, improved posture, mental clarity and focus, and the ability to detoxify the body from toxins and impurities.

For more information – click here.

♦ Hatha Yoga

Hatha is a general yoga practice that can be thought of as a giant tree with branches stemming off of it.

These branches are the many styles of yoga that have evolved throughout the ages. Hatha yoga was introduced by Yogi Swatmarama and literally means sun and moon (“ha” – sun & “tha” – moon). The practice is focused around uniting pairs of opposites, the positive and negative, the yin and the yang.

Hatha is great for beginners, practitioners working on their alignment, or for pairing the breath with movement. The pace is slow and systematic allowing yogis of all levels to go deeper, reduce stress, gain flexibility & strength, and go inward.

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♦ Vinyasa Flow & Power Yoga

Vinyasa Flow & Power Yoga style classes are widely popular in the yoga community.

Both classes are similar in that they link movement with the breath creating a flow or dance-like routine. The postures or sequences are solely dependent on the individual teacher’s creativity or a particular studio’s style. Many students enjoy these styles for their strength building, energetic, creative, upbeat, toning, and sweat-inducing but yet still calming, relaxing, and stress reducing characteristics. This style is great for beginners, intermediate, and advanced. Students can take modifications or advanced variations to keep the practice challenging and interesting.

Keep in mind – each teacher’s class and/or style is different. Take classes at a few studios or with different teachers until you find what soothes you!

For more information – click here.

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Popular Styles of Yoga – Pin now, read later!

♦ Restorative Yoga

Restorative yoga utilizes props to support the body so that poses can be held longer, giving the body time to open up and benefit from the stretch.

Most classes involve seated or supine postures with the aid of blocks, bolsters, and blankets to eliminate any stress or straining. Restorative classes are very relaxing, calming, and a great compliment to any other style of yoga or physical fitness.

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♦ Yin Yoga

Yin Yoga is a slow-paced style of yoga.

The practice involves holding poses for long periods of time, usually five minutes or longer. Yin was first introduced in the USA around 1970 by martial arts expert and Taoist yoga teacher Paulie Zink. The premise of yin yoga is to increase qi which is the subtle energy that runs through the meridian pathways of the body. Improved qi is said to aid in organ health, immunity, and emotional well-being.

The practice is aimed at creating circulation in the joints and improving flexibility. Yin yoga is a compliment to other styles of yoga and physical fitness.

For more information – click here.

♦ Kripalu Style Yoga

Kripalu yoga utilizes the classic postures, pranayama or breath work, development of a quiet mind, and the practice of relaxation.

This style has a strong emphasis on the flow of prana or the life-force energy inside of us, practicing compassion and self-acceptance, developing a witness consciousness or third eye, and using what is learned on the mat to practice “off the mat” in our daily lives. Kripalu yoga has 3 stages of practice for students to experience. The first stage focuses on posture alignment and the linking of breath and movement. The second stage offers an inward experience through deep meditation and holding of postures for long periods of time. The third stage becomes a “meditation in motion” where the body and mind act as one, following the prana’s guidance and moving with one’s inner urges and creativity.

Kripalu yoga is also heavily associated with the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. Kripalu is a nonprofit educational organization and one of the largest wellness centers in the USA.

For more information on Kripalu yoga – click here.

For more information on Kripalu Center – click here.

Popular Styles of Yoga - Pin now, read later!

Popular Styles of Yoga – Pin now, read later!

♦ Kundalini Yoga

Kundalini yoga is a fairly new practice that was brought to the west by Yogi Bhajan in the 1970s.

The practice derives its name from the awakening of kundalini energy. This awakening occurs through the regular practice of meditation, pranayama, chanting mantra, and yoga postures. It is called by students “the yoga of awareness” as it aims to unify the mind, body, and soul.

The classes have a set style consisting of six major components:

1) tuning-in with the Adi Mantra

2) pranyam or warm-up


4) relaxation


6) close with the blessing song, “May the Long Time Sun Shine Upon You.”

A typical class is 60-90 minutes with the kriyas being a complete set of exercises. This set is decided upon by the teacher and can involve short or long sequences, strong exercises, and breathing techniques.

For more information – click here.

♦ Anusara Yoga

Anusara style or Anusara School of Hatha Yoga was created by American-born yoga teacher John Friend in 1997.

Anusara is based on the Iyengar style of yoga with added elements of Hindu spirituality. The practice is broken down into 3 parts, known as the three A’s:

  • Attitude
  • Alignment
  • Action.

All classes begin with 3 chants of Om, followed by 3 rounds of opening Invocation, and ending with one final Om.

For more information – click here.

Hey! I’m Allie.

I’m a self-growth student, freedom-seeker, yoga teacher and the founder of a tight-knit online yoga community: the Body Mind Soul Studio. I’m here to teach you how to transform your life on-and-off-the-mat with a holistic yoga practice.

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If your practice has waned, if your yoga journey feels lonely or you like the way I share yoga’s teachings, then this is where you need to be. Join me once a month, for free, to practice yoga as a community.