It’s no secret that yoga has taken the Western world by storm—one asana at a time, of course. Yoga practice has been popularized for its multitude of health benefits ranging from physical health to an overall greater sense of well-being. There are currently more then 6,000 yoga studios in the Unites States. Yoga related hashtags account for a whopping 1 billion Instagram posts. With so many styles of yoga popping up all around us, it can be hard to figure out which yoga practice is right for you.
Keep reading to learn more about a few different types of yoga and how to decide which style is right for you.
Six Mainstream Styles Of Yoga
There are literally thousands of yoga studios across the United States, housing classes of all different styles. If you are new to the yoga community, you might not be familiar with some of the more common yoga disciplines. Here are six of the most widely available yoga disciplines in the country, in no particular order:
A style of yoga that moves its practitioners seamlessly through a series of yoga postures, using breathing techniques. Vinyasa flows feature asanas (yoga poses) and sun salutations. Power Yoga, a fierce relative of Vinyasa, is designed to make you build internal heat and strength.
Kundalini yoga is a style of yoga that blends movement, dynamic breathing techniques, meditation, and chanting for an experience that is rich in spiritual energy as well as the physical aspects of yoga.
A 90-minute-long style of yoga founded by Bikram Choudhury that features a set series of postures that are performed in a sauna like room. This is one of the more physically challenging types of yoga.
This style of yoga, derived from Hatha yoga, is characterized by a set of poses that are to be completed in the same sequence every time, connecting the breath with movement. One of the most ancient styles of yoga, Ashtanga is a mentally challenging physical practice that will strengthen your muscles and calm your nervous system.
A dynamic partner practice that hybridizes yoga and acrobatics. This is a great class for those who feel inspired to boost their creativity and maybe even meet some new friends. AcroYoga will allow you to do poses with a partner, helping you to build trust, a sense of community and a strong sense of body awareness.
Yin Yoga, Gentle Hatha, and Restorative
All of these styles are soft introductions into the yoga practice as they require a passive approach to opening up the body and stretching you out through physical postures. These classes will have you holding yoga postures for long periods of time and tend to be extremely relaxing. Read more about yin yoga, hatha and restorative yoga.
How To Find Your Yoga Style
The amazing thing about yoga is that different types exist to meet different needs. While there’s no rule that says you have to shy away from dipping your toes into a variety of yoga classes, it’s helpful to know which style is best suited for your needs. This is especially true if you’re looking for the perfect studio to sign up at.
Use this guide to narrow down which yoga style is your best match.
- Ask yourself what your reasons are for practicing: Are you in the market for a new workout to get your heart rate up, or are you looking for a restorative practice to help you relax? Are you hoping to become more spiritually connected or are you just trying to alleviate symptoms from chronic pain?
- Get real about your personal needs and preferences: Are you searching for a yoga community, or do you want one-on-one instruction from your yoga teacher? Think about whether you want to take part in a physically demanding practice or one that leads with a more compassionate approach. Additionally, factor in any physical, financial, and/or time constraints.
- Go on a yoga style shopping spree: Ifyou’re not sure what you’re looking for, that’s okay too. Sometimes, we have to try out different classes until we find the right fit. Don’t be afraid to sign up for various class styles until you find one that resonates with you. Pay attention to how your body feels during and after each new class you try. Yoga should feel challenging, but not draining. You should feel relaxed and grounded, not stressed out and frazzled. As many yoga teachers will say, do what feels good to your body. Yoga is all about gaining self-awareness and finding a practice that meshes well with your daily life.
1 = Restorative
2 = Vinyasa
3 = Ashtanga/Kundalini
4 = Power Yoga/Bikram
5 = AcroYoga/Ashtanga Yoga/Goat Yoga
Yoga Quiz – Which style of yoga is best for you?
Take our 8-question yoga style quiz to find out which yoga style best fits your lifestyle and preferences.
- What is your experience level?
- I’ve never even set foot onto a yoga mat.
- I’ve taken a few classes and know what a downward dog is.
- I’m familiar with yoga and open to learning about new classes.
- I’ve done a ton of yoga and enjoy working up a sweat when I practice.
- I can do head stands for days!
- How would you rank your fitness level?
- I enjoy nice, long walks to the living room!
- I like the idea of working out and could enjoy adding something new to shake things up.
- I work out regularly and I’m in okay shape.
- I work out every day and would like for my body to appear strong and fit.
- Working out is a lifestyle and building strength is a key component of my regimen.
- Are you seeking to grow spiritually through yoga practice?
- I just want a practice that is user-friendly and basic enough for a beginner to understand.
- I’m interested in getting a feel for what the spiritual side might have to offer, but it’s not a main priority.
- I’m already somewhat spiritual and I’m looking to dive deeper into my spiritual wealth.
- I’m not interested in the spiritual aspect, I want to focus on the physical aspect of yoga.
- I’m as spiritual as they come.
- Do you want a fast-paced practice that speeds through poses, or would you like to dig deep and hold poses for an extended period?
- I’d rather have something slower.
- I’m looking for something in between the two.
- I’m looking for something with a good flow to it.
- I would like to find a class where I can feel the burn.
- Sometimes I’m going to want to hold a challenging pose for a long time to build muscle strength and other times I will want to focus on getting my heart pumping.
- Are you looking to become more physically fit?
- Not really. I’m just looking for something to help me stretch and relax.
- Possibly! I would be open to a light workout.
- I want something that allows me to get a good workout and relax.
- I’m looking for something to help me break a sweat.
- I want a challenging, adventurous type of workout.
- Are you looking to be adventurous in yoga by trying out creative poses and sequences or would you prefer to stick to a practice that is structured and cuts right to the chase?
- I want to keep it simple and use yoga to clear my head.
- I want to feel grounded while also feeling a little challenged.
- I want to experience a little bit of both so that I can learn more about the practice.
- My main goal is to break a sweat, so anything that helps me do that is fine by me.
- I really want to learn how to do challenging poses and interesting sequences.
- What yoga poses intrigue you the most?
- Savasana—the more relaxing the better.
- Downward dog all the way!
- All of the Warrior poses make me feel strong and resilient.
- Let me see how long I can stay in a plank
- What is the main thing that you would like to gain from each practice?
- I want to feel relaxed and at peace to help me cope with the stress of daily life.
- I want to feel revitalized and energized for the day.
- I want to feel like I conquered a workout.
- I want to feel like I pushed my body to its limit.
- I want to feel like I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and advanced my practice.
The Results Are In!
If you got mostly 1’s…
You are probably new to yoga and want to dip your toes in quietly. You are most likely looking for a gentle practice to help you relax. For a simple, peaceful, and relaxing practice, we suggest you try Yin Yoga, Gentle Hatha, or Restorative Yoga.
If you got mostly 2’s…
You have probably practiced yoga a few times and are decently fit. If you want to try something that gives you a little taste of yoga on a spiritual and physical level, you might want to try Vinyasa Yoga or Hatha Yoga.
If you got mostly 3’s…
You are no stranger to practicing yoga. You feel comfortable enough in your knowledge of yoga to try something a little more challenging so to deepen your spiritual and physical knowledge of the practice. You might want to try Ashtanga Yoga or Kundalini Yoga.
If you got mostly 4’s…
You love to take care of your fitness and challenge yourself. Physical exercise is a regular part of your life and you look forward to it. You like that yoga is a way to switch up your routine and keep things interesting, but you may not be as interested in the spiritual side of yoga. Bikram Yoga or Power Yoga might be the most appealing to you.
If you got mostly 5’s…
You are a serious yogi who loves everything about the practice from the spiritual to the physical. Since yoga is nothing new to you, you want to make sure that you feel inspired. AcroYoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Goat Yoga, or any type of yoga that is out of the ordinary and adventurous will feed your soul and keep things fresh and fun for you.