Types of Yoga: A Guide To The Different Styles and Their Benefits

There are many different styles of yoga, and each has its own unique benefits.

Decide which style of yoga to practice can be very overwhelming. There are many different types of yoga, and each style has its unique advantages.

In order to choose which style would best suit you, it can be helpful to look at the most popular types in turn.

Whether you are looking to work out or wind down, you can be sure that a yoga style would work for you.

Again, no matter if you a complete beginner or an advanced yogi, there will also be a type of yoga that will challenge you just the right amount.

Here we explore 15 of the most popular types of yoga so that you can decide which style would be just right for you.


1. Vinyasa Yoga

Vinyasa yoga is a flowing style of yoga class. You will move between poses in a fluid state, often using a specific vinyasa sequence (chaturanga to upward facing dog) to transition between different sections of the class.

Vinyasa can be practiced as a gentle flow or a more vigorous practice, depending on the students’ type of yoga instructor level.

Vinyasa is one of the most popular types of yoga, as it can offer wide-ranging benefits.

You can expect to connect movement to breathe, which provides you with a sense of well-being. You will also target many different muscle groups and are likely to break into a sweat at times.

Yogis are drawn to vinyasa teachers to strengthen their bodies, increase their heart rate, and increase their mental focus.

Who Might Like It: Vinyasa classes can be tailored for beginners and advanced yoga practitioners alike.

However, it is one of the more physical styles of yoga, so it is best for active people who would enjoy the quicker pace of a flow class.

2. Hatha Yoga

Hatha yoga classes are some of the most commonly taught classes in a yoga studio. Hatha classes are well-rounded and include different series of postures, which are taught in seated, kneeling, standing, and supine positions.

You can expect to practice asanas (physical postures), pranayama (breathing techniques), and a form of relaxation in each hatha yoga class you attend.

This means that students can enjoy courses that incorporate both physical and mental aspects.

Hatha yoga is suitable for people of all abilities, which makes it a great class to learn the basics of yoga – for this reason, it is often recommended to complete beginners.

Some students also enjoy the pace of this form of yoga, as by taking time to practice each pose, you can gain better awareness of the correct alignment of each different pose.

Who Might Like It: Students looking for a comprehensive yoga class with a clear breakdown of different yoga postures would like this form of yoga.

The health benefits of hatha yoga have been well demonstrated, and you will easily be able to find this style of yoga at many yoga studios – making it an easy way to get going on your yoga journey.

3. Ashtanga Yoga

Ashtanga yoga has a remarkable reputation within the yoga world.

Ashtanga is a style of yoga that originated from K Pattabhi Jois, an authentic and traditional yogi. An Ashtanga practice focuses on a set series of yoga postures, which involves standing, seated, backend, and supine positions.

Sri K Pattabhi Jois aimed for Ashtanga classes to focus the practitioner’s mind via the familiarity of practicing a set series of postures. Ashtanga also requires a degree of discipline, which can have advantages for life off of the mat.

Many ex gymnasts, and dancers like the intense poses in Ashtanga, where positions are typically held for around five breaths or more, this focus on breathing can be mindful but also helps the yoga practitioner to build a strong body.

Who Might Like It: Students looking for forms of yoga that challenge them are likely to enjoy Ashtanga-style classes.

A good yoga teacher can adapt and modify the set series of Ashtanga poses to make them suitable for newbies, but do expect strong practice.

You are likely to notice physical results from your practice, including enhanced muscle definition.

4. Yin Yoga

Yin yoga incorporates asanas which allow for the deep release of tension in our muscles. You can expect to hold each stretch for longer than traditional hatha yoga positions, making Yin a good style for those who exercise a lot.

Yin styles will use breathwork to help you to relax into different asanas. These exercises are designed to promote mental relaxation, as when the body is still, the mind can find it easier to sink into meditation.

Yin yoga is a type of yoga that can enhance your flexibility but is more active than a restorative yoga class. Yin yoga poses may involve the use of straps or yoga blocks if these are available at your studio.

These can support your body and make modifications of core movements easier.

Yin is an excellent counterbalance to the more active styles of yoga such as vinyasa, Ashtanga, or power, and many people like to practice 1-2 Yin classes a week in addition to their more strenuous movement classes.

Who Might Like It: A beginner may enjoy Yin yoga as it can help to increase flexibility.

Similarly, someone who is very active and does many different exercises can find these deep long holds an excellent remedy for physical and mental tension.

5. Bikram Yoga

Bikram yoga may have slightly decreased in popularity following a recent controversy involving the founder – Bikram Choudhury. However, for many people, Bikram is one of the most effective types of yoga for physical and mental health.

Bikram Choudhury has trademarked a unique sequence of 26 key poses, which provides a comprehensive workout for all muscle groups in the body.

This style of yoga is usually practiced at a higher temperature than regular types of yoga, which can increase its ability to enhance flexibility in those who practice it regularly.

A Bikram yoga teacher will guide you through the same selection of movements each time you attend class, which will lead to a natural evolution in your strength and confidence.

Many types of yoga use different postures in each class, making this a unique benefit of Bikram.

Like in a hatha yoga practice, you can also expect to benefit from relaxation techniques during a class of this style. Therefore beginners looking for a better state of mind can also enjoy it.

Who Might Like It: People who enjoy Bikram yoga are happy to practice hot yoga – and therefore are comfortable at a higher temperature.

A beginner may find this form of yoga a little intimidating at first, but it is a good way to break a sweat and strengthen the body.

6. Power Yoga

Power yoga is similar to vinyasa in many ways. You will definitely work up some heat in the body and gain the advantage of a cardio-style exercise class.

Power yoga can also be a great way to boost your mood as the strong asana, and pranayama practice will get the endorphins flowing.

Power yoga may also help you lose weight, as it involves working up a sweat and can be pretty hard work. Your muscles are challenged in the various poses, which tend not to be as suitable for beginners as other kinds of yoga.

Power yoga instruction can be uplifting, motivating, and combined with music to increase exercise intensity. You may explore different sequences each time, with the teachings focusing on a theme, such as a core or glutes.

Of course, breathwork will feature heavily in power yoga classes too, which will help you increase your self-awareness as a student.

Who Might Like It: Power yoga is suitable for people looking for a strong style of practice who want to work out and shape up while improving their state of mind.

While teachings can include variations for beginners, the goal of power yoga is to build strength, so it may not be ideal for a student looking for a more relaxed experience.

7. Iyengar Yoga

Iyengar yoga pays attention to correct body alignment. Iyengar yoga aims to teach each posture with care and break down how each asana is designed to affect the body.

The characteristics of each posture can be explained differently by each yoga teacher, which is why Iyengar aims to focus attention on the original roots of the poses, with the belief that the true spirit or energy of traditional yoga philosophy is maintained.

The difference with Iyengar yoga sequences compared to flow yoga is that the poses can be explored profoundly using various yoga props, including straps and yoga blocks. Even a beginner won’t have any confusion about the correct posture forms.

Who Might Like It: A yoga studio offering an Iyengar practice will suit students who want to understand yoga poses deeply and comprehensively.

Iyengar classes can also be a good idea for people with various health issues and injuries when a regular yoga class such as Hatha would not provide enough precise instruction.

8. Kundalini Yoga

You can think of kundalini yoga as a system of self-discovery, where freeing your spirit and generating good energy is the aim.

Kundalini exercises and teachings offer much more than a workout. Here, the philosophy is that by practicing a series of poses, your energy is awakened, leading to a reduction in ego and greater self-awareness.

There is often a big difference between kundalini yoga classes and styles such as ashtanga yoga or vinyasa flow.

Of all the yoga styles listed here, kundalini is designed for the type of person on a spiritual quest and wants to change their relationship with their body and mind.

Kundalini will focus on physical movements and chanting, singing, and chakras, giving your body a unique experience.

Results can be an increased awareness of the power of your breath, as well as a new approach to life on the yoga mat.

Who Might Like It: Students looking for a yoga environment that goes far beyond physical exercises will likely enjoy Kundalini classes.

If you are looking for a connection to your breath and a better state of mind, this type of yoga may be the way to go – just come with an open mind.

9. Sivananda Yoga

The founder of this ancient yoga style is Swami Sivananda. While it contains many types of asanas you would expect in a regular yoga practice, Sivananda yoga is also concerned with sharing the philosophy underpinning yoga.

Sivananda yoga is directly translated from the birthplace of yoga – India, and as such, the postures and breath practices have an authentic feel to them.

Another goal of Sivananda yoga is to increase both your connection to your body and mind, making it a good tool for better relaxation or meditation.

Sivananda is not the style you would choose if you are solely interested in a workout.

While you can experience positive physical results from the practices, overall, the maximum health benefits relate to the more subtle aspects of yoga.

You may also partake in karma yoga as part of Sivananda, which is the act of performing selfless work to benefit others.

Who Might Like It: People looking for practices that create inner equanimity, improved breath awareness, and a deeper connection to nature may enjoy this class type.

Expect to gain more from your practice than a series of physical poses.

10. Restorative Yoga

Practicing restorative yoga is a highly relaxing experience. The results of this style of yoga can be profound – better sleep, reduced stress, and a reduction in physical tension.

You will hold poses for longer than in Hatha-style classes – and you may also use the support of bolsters, blocks, and blankets.

Restorative postures give your whole system a chance to switch into the rest and digest mode – with each pose facilitating deeper breathing and relaxation of any tight connective tissue.

One of the main differences in restorative classes is that, unlike in Iyengar, there is less emphasis on physical alignment and more focus on letting go.

Restorative yoga classes often feature long periods of meditation, so make sure you find a place where you can switch off and enjoy your yoga practice without any interruption.

You can consider restorative styles a form of yoga therapy – with many pros for the body and mind.

Who Might Like It: Restorative yoga classes can make a good accompaniment for people practicing different types of yoga, such as hot yoga or vinyasa yoga.

Unlike vinyasa flow, you can relax and unwind, making them suitable for anybody experiencing lots of stress or suffering from physical health issues or injuries.

11. Prenatal Yoga

Prenatal yoga is a series of Hatha-like poses designed to prepare your body for pregnancy and birth.

A studio that offers prenatal yoga should provide you with pregnancy-specific poses, which can include a modified sun salutation, meditation, and gentle breathing exercises.

Your breath work will be suitable for the physiological changes you undergo during pregnancy while providing you with all the goodness of deep and full breathing.

You will not undertake postures more commonly associated with an ashtanga practice. Still, there will be similarities to Iyengar – in that your teacher will likely ensure everything is in the right place physically, especially if you are doing any pelvic floor work.

While hot yoga and vinyasa classes are not ideal during this time, a regular yoga practice can help you break down the physical and mental tension associated with being pregnant, which helps you and your baby.

Who Might Like It: Pregnant women looking for safe postures and suitable breath work will enjoy the practice of prenatal yoga.

If you want to find a class where you feel comfortable with your changing body, finding a studio equipped to offer pregnancy-safe poses is a good option.

12. Aerial Yoga

Aerial yoga involves using a hammock attached to the ceiling to conduct various poses that can combine aspects of pilates, dance, and vinyasa style positions.

Taking an aerial yoga class can be a great way to expand your existing practice – by challenging your body and improving your confidence.

You may also find that by being supported via a hammock, you can sink into a deeper form of meditation. Each pose is unique when practiced from an aerial yoga perspective – yet you still get the goodness of the traditional poses too.

If you want to stimulate your physical body while calming your nervous system, aerial is worth trying. If you are a regular yoga practitioner, then trying out new styles such as hot yoga or aerial can keep you motivated in your yoga practice.

Who Might Like It: If you like hot yoga, you will probably also like the challenge of aerial yoga.

If you enjoy more alignment-focused styles such as Iyengar, you may find the free-form movements in aerial exciting and refreshing.

13. Acro Yoga

Acro yoga combines traditional yoga postures with acrobatics. You often work together with other people to create different shapes on and off the ground.

Acro yoga is ideal for those wanting a challenge and who enjoy the thrill of being elevated above the ground.

Acro can also be an excellent chance to build trust and intimacy with your partner, making it suitable for improving your connections with other people.

If you did gymnastics as a child and miss the practice, acro yoga may be a style you enjoy.

You can expect to build strength, flexibility, and confidence with this yoga form, too, as positions can be challenging and require courage.

Who Might Like It: If you are looking for a fresh approach to your yoga practice, enjoy the dynamic movement of gymnastics, or like to practice yoga with other people, acro yoga may be for you.

14. Anusara Yoga

You can think of Anusara yoga as a modern form of Hatha. You can therefore expect to gain the advantages of increased flexibility, improved circulation, and physical strength. What makes Anusara unique

Anusara yoga operates via the three A’s – attitude, alignment, and action. This means, much like in Iyengar, you will learn how to practice positions in the ideal physical way.

You also gain from this style of yoga is a “go with the flow” approach, where you learn how to handle challenges on and off the mat with greater ease.

Therefore, you can get a new philosophy for life – where you learn how to adapt better to difficulties, whether these are physical or mental in nature.

Who Might Like It: Students looking for a life-enhancing physical and mental practice may enjoy Anusaa, especially if they already enjoy the type of pose associated with Hatha.

15. Jivamukti Yoga

Jivamukti Yoga is often presented as a path to enlightenment. The physical vinyasa-like practice complemented various approaches to living life with compassion and contentment off the mat.

The system of Jivamukti involves a different monthly focus which teachers students different philosophical approaches to a yogic lifestyle.

The physical practice is quite strong, but it is viewed as a way to increase a deep state of meditation and mental resilience rather than just gain physical strength and flexibility.

This style of yoga encourages its students to ask questions about how they are living their lives – including how they treat the environment, animals, and others around them.

This approach can include forms of positive activism and appeal to people looking for a different way of life.

Who Might Like It: People looking for a comprehensive yoga lifestyle that incorporates strong physical postures, guidelines for daily life, and a like-minded community may enjoy Jivamukti.

The Takeaway

Yoga offers so many different styles of practice, providing much more than improvements in physical health. Whatever your aims, you will be able to find a style of yoga that suits you.

Many people enjoy combining different yoga styles to meet their needs on any given day, for example, by combing the energizing effects of vinyasa with the relaxing nature of restorative yoga to balance them out throughout the day.

It can also be fun to add in unique yoga experiences, for example, by trialing hot yoga or aerial and considering the other aspects of traditional yoga such as meditation, chanting, and philosophy.