Types of Yoga – A Basic Guide

There are many articles that mention different types of yoga which seems to cause confusion in many people. In some cases, people use different terms for the same type of yoga. What all of us should understand is that all these types of yoga have the same foundation and that the basic goal of each yoga style is to bring people closer to themselves, help them relieve stress and lead them to physical and mental wellbeing. Now let’s analyze some of the most popular types of yoga.

Hatha Yoga

Hatha yoga is the type of yoga that people today think about when someone mentions yoga. Ha is a Sanskrit word for sun and Tha means moon. In other words, this type of yoga is trying to achieve balance between two different things – the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system – the harmony between movement and rest. When it comes to breathing, the balance is between the right nostril that triggers the activity in the left side of the brain and the left nostril that stimulates the right side of the brain. The main focus in Hatha yoga is placed on yogic breathing or pranayama and physical exercises or asanas.

Raja yoga

Many experts consider Raja yoga to be predecessor of Hatha yoga. This is classic yoga or yoga in its broader meaning. This is mostly a meditative way that is trying to control the mind in order to make practitioners to accept the reality instead of illusions.

Iyengar yoga

Iyengar yoga was developed in the 20th century by Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja which later added Iyendar to his name. Iyengar yoga is based on Hatha yoga, but unlike many other types of yoga, this one includes the use of many items like blankets, belts etc. This type of yoga is recommended to beginners and weak people, so they can learn and maintain the positions easily before they have the strength and knowledge to perform them without any help.

Karma yoga

This is a type of yoga that is not practiced in yoga centers or in some special facilities. However, it is worth mentioning that this yoga can help people grow especially in terms of spirituality. Karma yoga is practiced all the time and everywhere. This yoga is directed towards other people, animals and plants. Volunteering, helping the weak, accepting yourself as you are some of the basis of karma yoga.

Jhana yoga

Jhana means knowledge and that’s why Jhana yoga takes place in our head and mind, not in our body. The inner peace and understanding is the road to healing according to Jhana yoga.    

Bikram yoga

Bikram yoga was invented by Bikram Choudhury. It is performed in rooms where the temperature reaches up to 40 degrees. Practitioners are involved in intense physical activity and they have the feeling like they are inside a sauna. According to Choudhury this is the best way to detox the body and improve mental and physical health.

Some other popular types of yoga include Bhakti yoga, Ashtanga yoga, Tantra yoga and Sivananda yoga. It is up to the practitioner to choose the right type of yoga according to their personal needs and goals.     

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