Types of Yoga - Ultimate Guide for Beginners / Advance Practitioners

Types of Yoga - Ultimate Guide for Beginners / Advance Practitioners

This is the most comprehensive guide for beginners and advanced practitioners about yoga, types of yoga, and different styles of yoga.

In this guide, you will learn everything you need to know about the different types of yoga styles and practices and their implementation in daily life.

As a beginner or an advanced yoga practitioner, you may have questions related to yoga. This ultimate guide to types of yoga will provide you in-depth knowledge of the topic.

This is the most complete guide available on the internet.

Table of Contents

What is Yoga?

There are different definitions of yoga and the typical one is: The word “Yog” or “Yoga” comes from a Sanskrit word ‘YUJ’.

YUJ means ‘to join or unite’. Yoga is the unity of Atman (the Self) with Paramatman (supreme Self/universal consciousness).

In other words, process or a journey of dissolving the ego and experiencing oneness with the universal consciousness is known as Yoga.

Yoga is the process of bringing balance between the Sun (Ha) and Moon (Tha) energies, and ultimately opening the path to Sahasrara chakra (the seventh energy center) and thereby attaining the state of Samadhi (Liberation/ Enlightenment).

According to Yoga and Tantric Philosophy, as well as the Daoist philosophy, there is a feminine aspect in every man and vice versa. Yoga practice allows one to meet, acknowledge, and learn from the hidden aspects of oneself. This is the union found in yoga.

Yoga is the process of uniting body, mind, heart, and, soul. Yoga is the union of the inner world and the outer world.

Yoga is a journey of self-discovery, self-evaluation to evolve our consciousness, to attain the middle path between the extremes of the mind.

What are the Different Types of Yoga?

This is the most commonly asked question by a lot of people who are newly interested in yoga. And my answer to this completely depends on how they are pursuing yoga in their life.

Some of these people are pursuing yoga as a spiritual practice to improve their lives, whereas some of them are only interested in the physical health benefits of yoga. Therefore I have explained the type of yoga in two parts i.e.:

Types of Yoga: Philosophical lifestyle based approach to Yoga as a complete spiritual practice.

Types of Yoga:  Physical postures based approach explaining different styles of yoga.

Types of Yoga: Philosophical Lifestyle based Approach to Yoga as a Complete Spiritual Practice.

Yoga is a journey to attain liberation from the ego and to merge with universal consciousness. Thus, there are many paths to attain liberation (Moksha/Nirvana/Samadhi/Enlightenment) and some of these are explained below.

Bhakti Yoga

This is the path of devotion and is suitable for people who are heart oriented. It is said that one reaches enlightenment much faster through a devoted heart than through any other way.

Followers of Krishna are Bhakti yogis. In Bhakti yoga the Bhagwan (god) or Guru (enlightened master) and Bhakta (devotee) are important. This path is a path of surrender. In all situations, the devotee’s ability to feel surrendered to their Guru and God, liberates them from the ignorance, towards truth.

In Bhakti yoga, physical asana practice and breathing techniques are not important to practice. They sing and dance out of joy and appreciation and also they mourn in Virah (separation) to expressing their deep desire to be one with God. While worshipping God and tending to their Guru, they practice Karma (doing) Yoga.  

Karma Yoga

Karma means “action.” It extends beyond actions, into thoughts, words, and deeds. The law of karma says that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Albert Einstein with his theory of relativity taps into this eternal truth that all is related through action. Whatever is thrown out there will inevitably be linked to its origin.

We must be mindful of what we choose to think, say, or do because our actions will revisit us in due time. Karma Yoga means that every action is done with meditative/ mindful awareness.

In Karma yoga, practicing asana’s or Yoga is not important but doing any work selflessly and without seeking the results. In the epic tale of the Bhagwad Gita, Sri Krishna says to Arjuna: “When one surrenders his/her actions to God or to the Universe they become free from all the past Karma”.

Karma is the only factor to bring the person to the cycle of birth and death. When a person surrenders all actions, not looking for the results, not affected by the apparent failure, or not attached to apparent successes, and instead does the action (karma) with awareness and totality they attain liberation.

Surrendering failure and successes to the Universe and doing the action selflessly is called Karma Yoga. Certain people are very active and cannot be still, for these souls, Karma Yoga suits their spiritual path.

This is the beauty of many paths that lead towards the same goal, realization with one’s own true nature. 

Raja Yoga

Raja means king, thus Raja (or Raj) yoga is the kingly yoga or the royal way. Patanjali calls it Ashtanga Yoga which includes Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharna, Dhyana and Samadhi.

This path consists of balancing the karma yoga, bhakti yoga, and jnana yoga while integrating the eight limbs of yoga

Types of Yoga: Physical postures based approach explaining different styles of yoga.

The majority of people get interested in yoga because of physical health benefits associated with yoga exercises, particularly the third limb of yoga i.e. Asanas.

Their main aim is physical fitness or to find a good workout routine. So I have explained all the styles of yoga as per their approach to the asana practice.

Hatha Yoga

Hatha yoga is one of the most common and popular styles of yoga. It is a foundation for different types of yoga styles. The majority of yoga studios offer hatha yoga classes across the globe. The Sanskrit word HATHA is a combination of two words “Ha” meaning sun and “Tha” meaning moon.

Hatha yoga practices aim at balancing the masculine & feminine energies. If you are a beginner then hatha yoga style is for you.  Hatha yoga classes include slow-paced gentle postures (held for longer time duration) with breathing exercises and meditation.

Do not expect hard-core workouts and sweating from the hatha yoga style instead it will make you lose and relaxed. The hatha yoga sequence comes from an ancient scripture “hatha yoga pradipika” which includes:

  • Yoga Asanas
  • Pranayamas,
  • Meditation,
  • Mudras,
  • Bandhas
  • Shatkarmas.

So if you are an absolute beginner and want to explore yoga in detail then go ahead with Hatha yoga.

Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga

Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is one of the most intense, physically demanding, and vigorous types of yoga styles. Ashtanga yoga was discovered in the twentieth century by K.Pattabhi Jois and his Guru ( Teacher), Sri Krishnamacharya.

Ashtanga yoga practices are the translation of an ancient text called the Yoga Korunta. There are three different “series” in Ashtanga vinyasa yoga. These are the primary series (yoga chikitsa), intermediate series (Nadi shodhana), and advanced series (Sthira Bhaga).

Ashtanga yoga follows a fixed sequence routine of asanas which are repeated in every class. The ashtanga yoga system has two main elements Tristhana and vinyasas. Tristhana means the incorporation of Drishti (Focus on gaze), bandhas (locks) and ujjayi breathing (victorious breath) with the asana. Vinyasa is the synchronized movement of breath and the body.

Vinyasas are flowing sequences of movements that connect each asana with the next asana. Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga classes are taught in two styles, a led class and Mysore style class. In the led class the teacher is leading every participant into the complete sequence of asana.

In the Mysore style class participants practice together at their own pace. The teacher intervenes to correct or align the postures. Ashtanga yoga is hot, sweaty and physically demanding, thus if you are a beginner then I will not recommend an ashtanga yoga class. 

Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga can be taught to absolute beginners, but little exposure to yoga postures will help you in the class. If you are looking for a highly intense workout and detoxification then you much try ashtanga yoga. It is my favourite style of yoga.

Vinyasa Yoga

Vinyasa yoga or vinyasa flow is a popular type of yoga style. This style of yoga incorporates more movement than Hatha yoga. Vinyasa yoga is an adaptation of ashtanga vinyasa yoga. It was started in the 1980s and it comprises the teachings of T Krishnamacharya.

Vinyasa yoga is a very physically demanding practice as it tests the endurance of the practitioner. In vinyasa yoga, one posture links to other posture through a sequence of movements that are synchronized with the breath.

Vinyasa yoga is also known as flow yoga in many gyms and fitness studios. Since the transition of one posture to others is in rhythm with the breath, I call it a moving meditation.

The intensity of practice for vinyasa yoga is similar to ashtanga vinyasa but the sequence of postures is not fixed in vinyasa yoga.

Thus vinyasa yoga classes differ in the sequence of postures in comparison to ashtanga yoga. If you want to try new things in yoga then I will recommend vinyasa yoga to you.

The pace of the vinyasa yoga class can be fast or slow. It completely depends on the mind-set of the lead teacher.

In a fast-paced class, we flow from one posture to the other in a quick manner aiming to increase the cardiac activity. This type of fast pace class provides an excellent workout and toning of the body.

Whereas in slow-paced class we hold the posture for some time and it gives a meditative experience to the participants.

If you want to try new things in yoga then I will recommend vinyasa yoga to you.

Yin Yoga

Yin yoga was founded in the U.S. in the 1970s by a martial arts expert and Taoist yoga teacher Paulie Zink. Paul Grilley was one of the disciples of Paulie Zink and he refined the Yin yoga using his knowledge of anatomy and Chinese Medicine. Later Sarah Powers evolved Yin Yoga.

The approach of Yin yoga is completely different from hatha yoga & vinyasa yoga. Yin yoga is slow-paced and each posture is held for a longer duration (45 sec to 5 min) depending on the comfort and level of practitioner. Yin yoga is a meditative yoga practice; it is also called Taoist yoga.

Practices and postures of Yin yoga apply mild stress to the connective tissue, tendons, fascia, and ligaments. Further, aims to increase circulation in the joints and improving flexibility. The regular practice of Yin yoga trains the body to activate the parasympathetic nervous in the states of minor stress.

Yin Yoga is appropriate for beginners, yoga props help you relax into the postures and move into a meditative state.

I will recommend yin yoga to advance yoga practitioners who practice the active style of yoga-like vinyasa or Hatha. Yin yoga is a perfect supplement to active yoga practices. It will help to balance the yin and yang energies.

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Restorative Yoga

Restorative yoga is gentle, relaxing, and rejuvenating. Restorative yoga suits all levels of practitioners. This style of yoga is passive and the aim is to reach deep relaxation state and release physical and mental stress.

Restorative yoga sessions make use of a wide range of yoga props like yoga blocks, bolsters, straps, eye pillows, and blankets. All these props provide support for each posture and help you sink deeper into relaxation.

Each yoga posture is held for five to ten minutes. This style of yoga helps to activate the parasympathetic nervous system so that you can truly relax your mind and body deeply.

Restorative yoga helps in improving the functioning of the immune system, insomnia, fertility, and general fatigue.

I will recommend Restorative yoga to each one of you irrespective of your exposure to yoga asanas. Because people of this modern era needs to learn the art of relaxation and let go.

Iyengar Yoga

Iyengar yoga is one of the most popular styles of yoga developed by B.K.S. Iyengar. B.K.S. Iyengar was one of the popular students of T. Krishnamacharya. He is also known as “the father of modern yoga”. He is famous for making yoga popular all across the globe.

Iyenger focused on precise musculoskeletal alignment within each posture.  For attaining proper alignment of postures he emphasized practitioners to use yoga props like blocks, blankets, bolsters, chairs, ropes, and walls to support postures.

Iyengar yoga is recommended for beginners, elders and those who have suffered an injury. This style of yoga works therapeutically.

A typical Iyengar yoga class emphasizes on relaxed breathing, precise alignment for each posture, and balance. Each posture is executed slowly, and it is held for a longer duration.

So if are a beginner, or you want to learn the correct postural alignments or if you want to heal an injury, or if you belong to old age then you must try Iyengar yoga.

Kundalini Yoga

Kundalini energy is referred to as sleeping divine energy at the dormant level or Muladhara chakra (Root center). It is represented by a coiled serpent or snake. 

Kundalini yoga is a system that aims to awaken Kundalini energy leading to self-realization or spiritual liberation. Kundalini yoga is very popular on the western side of the world. Kundalini yoga was promoted by an Indian yoga teacher Harbhajan Singh Khalsa known as Yogi Bhajan. 

Yogi Bhajan travelled to America, Europe, South Africa, Togo, Australia, and East Asia, and taught Kundalini yogic practices. These practices are a combination of Hindu Shaktism and Tantric practices with mantras and prayers from his Sikh heritage.

Kundalini yoga includes different exercises, chanting, meditation, Rapid breathing practices, and mantras. In case if you are looking for more than a physical workout in a yoga class then the Kundalini yoga style is for you.

Power Yoga

Power Yoga is highly popular in health clubs, gyms & studios all across the globe. Power Yoga was invented and introduced to America in the 1990s by Beryl Bender Birch, Bryan Kest, Larry Schultz. Each of them studied and practiced Ashtanga yoga with Sri K. Pattabhi Jois.

Power yoga resembles Ashtanga yoga, it is vigorous vinyasa-based practice. Power yoga builds strength, flexibility, and balance.

Posture sequence in power yoga is not fixed as it is fixed in ashtanga yoga. The power yoga teacher/instructor can modify the posture sequence as per his/her convenience and level of participants.

So if you want to try a different type of workout routines then you can try Power Yoga.

Sivananda Yoga

Sivananda yoga was founded by Swami Vishnudevananda. It is based on the teachings of Swami Sivananda who was the guru (master) of Swami Vishnudevananda.

Sivananda yoga style is a type of Hatha yoga that is ideal for beginners. A typical class of Sivananda yoga comprises Savasana (relaxation pose), breathing practices like kapalabhati and Anulom Vilom, Surya namaskar( sun salutation) and asanas. 

Sivananda yoga has a fixed sequence 12 asana sequence which is repeated in each class. Postures are held for a longer time with incorporation of rest in between the asanas. Sivananda yoga is not only limited to physical posture practice whereas it focuses on the complete spirituality of yoga.

Sivananda yoga is based on five key principles: Asanas (Physical postures), Pranayama (Breathing practices), Satvik and Yogic diet (Proper vegetarian diet), Vedanta (Spiritual knowledge/Positive thinking) and Dhyana (Meditation).

So if you are an absolute beginner, and you hesitate to explore a lot of asanas then you can try Sivananda yoga.

Bikram Yoga

Bikram yoga was discovered by Bikram Choudhury in the 1970s. This style of yoga aims to flush toxins, manage weight, toning of muscles, and flexibility, further it allows students to move more deeply into the postures.

Bikram Choudhury compiled a yoga sequence of 26 posture named as “Bikram Yoga”, based on the writings of B. C. Ghosh (Bishnu Charan Ghosh )

A typical Bikram Yoga class has a fixed sequence of 26 postures, with 24 asanas, one pranayama (breathing exercise), and one shatkarma (a purification/ cleansing technique).

Yoga class is 90 min long and it is done in a closed room at 105 degrees Fahrenheit (41 °C) with 40% humidity. The ambience of the room is bright with mirrors to check proper posture alignments. 

The heat & humidity makes you sweat excessively thereby releasing toxins through perspiration. All the postures and breathing techniques work on each part of your body and bring oxygenated blood to all your internal organs. 

Pre-hydration and post-hydration with electrolyte replacement after this workout are advised to prevent fluid/electrolyte imbalances. 

The Bikram yoga helps in weight loss, burning up to 600 calories in one session. Bikram yoga is your best option for people interested in losing weight and eliminating toxins.

This yoga style is not recommended for those with mobility issues or chronic health conditions, sensitivity to heat. If you have cardiovascular or respiratory issues, hypertension, or diabetes then you should avoid this yoga style.

Hot Yoga

Hot yoga is quite similar to Bikram yoga since it is also performed in heated rooms. Hot yoga studios are not strict about a particular temperature & humidity parameters as it is done in Bikram yoga.

Hot yoga classes are 60 minutes long, Yoga teachers and instructors are allowed to play music. They can offer hands-on adjustment for a particular posture. Hot yoga studios do not have mirrors since they believe mirrors cause distraction and move the awareness of practitioners outside the body.

In Bikram yoga, a sequence of fixed 26 postures is repeated in every class whereas, in hot yoga, each yoga class is different from others.

Each yoga teacher/ instructor teaches different postures and sequences/styles that bring more learning and challenges for the practitioners.

So if you want to try the broader version of Bikram yoga then you must try Hot yoga.

Vini Yoga

Vini yoga is another version of hatha yoga. Vini yoga was developed by the revolutionary Indian yoga teacher Krishnamacharya. It was taught by his son T.K.V. Desikachar. The Sanskrit word vi and ni means “adaptation” or “appropriate application.”

Vini yoga style emphasizes developing a personalized practice for each person and these include yoga poses, breathing exercises, meditation practices, and relaxation. 

Vini yoga classes are conducted in small groups or as one on one personal session so that yoga teacher/instructor can understand and address the practitioner’s individual needs.

So if you are an absolute beginner or you avoid going to crowded yoga classes, or you cannot match the pace of the yoga class then you can try Vini yoga.

Aerial yoga

Aerial yoga was developed in 2014; it is a modern yoga style. Aerial yoga is done with a suspended soft silk hammock. The purpose of a hammock is to support a yoga posture in the air and on the mat. Aerial yoga is a hybrid version of yoga that integrates yoga postures, Pilates, gymnastics, and dance. 

Regular practice of Aerial yoga increase strength and improves flexibility. The key focus of Aerial yoga practice is to reduce the pressure on your shoulders, spine, and head. 

Aerial Yoga is gentle, relaxing, and approachable for beginners. You will practice different variations of traditional yoga poses with a silk hammock.

So if you want to experience yoga postures differently than you can try Aerial yoga.

Acro Yoga

AcroYoga is a combination of traditional Hatha yoga, acrobatics, and gymnastics. The key fundamental of AcroYoga is to work with a partner to improve strength and balance. The practice of AcroYoga helps in building trust.

Acro yoga is slightly unconventional in comparison to traditional yoga styles since we don’t practice any meditation, breathing techniques, or any kind of spiritual philosophy in acro yoga.

If you are a beginner then it is recommended that you should have some experience of normal yoga before practicing Acro yoga.

Acro Yoga is physically challenging than other forms of yoga, and it may lead to injuries if it is not done with proper guidance and awareness.

Yoga Partner plays three key roles during an Acro Yoga session and these are:

Base – The person lying on the floor in contact with the ground. This person will lie on the floor and will support their partner with their arms and legs.

Flyer – The person who is lifted off the ground by the base. A flyer can do different asana or position with the help of Base.

Spotter – The person responsible for the secure landing of the flyer, in case if flyer slips or falls from the posture. A spotter can give suggestions to help both partners improve their technique or alignment in the position.

So if you want to try something different then intermediate & experienced level of yoga practitioners can try Acro Yoga.

Prenatal/Postnatal Yoga

Prenatal/Postnatal Yoga practice is specifically designed for pre/post-pregnancy. Prenatal yoga is the best yoga practice to stay fits and relax during pregnancy. It prepares the female for labour and promotes the baby’s health.

Prenatal yoga practice helps females to grow emotionally and physically strong. It helps with lower back pain, reduces stress and insomnia. Prenatal yoga works your pelvic floor muscles, core strength, and incorporates breathing exercises that ease labour and delivery.

Nine months of pregnancy, labour, and delivery is an overwhelming process for a female. A lot of changes happen in body, mind, and emotions. Postnatal Yoga helps to relax the mind and restore your tired body. Further, it promotes the healing process and makes you feel balanced physically and mentally.

So if you are planning for a baby then I will highly recommend Prenatal/Postnatal Yoga to you.

Laughter Yoga

Laughter yoga or laughing yoga is a new and unique style of yoga. This fun-filled modern style of yoga is highly popular these days. The complete approach of laughter yoga is to laugh without any reason. Laughter is done as a form of physical exercise.

It was created by an Indian physician Dr. Madan Kataria in 1995. Scientific research has claimed that laughter has many health benefits therefore it is recommended as a complete workout for the modern man.

So if you want to say goodbye to stress in a funny way, and want to improve your physical, mental & emotional health then you must try laughter yoga.

FAQ about Types of Yoga

Prenatal yoga is the best and safest choice for pregnant women. You can also try hatha yoga and restorative yoga in pregnancy.

We recommend you discuss your health condition with your doctor and yoga teacher before starting any yoga practice. Simply avoid vigorous style of yoga-like hot yoga, Bikram Yoga, Ashtanga Vinyasa, Vinyasa yoga.

Restorative yoga and Yin yoga practice are completely restorative practices. But, you can also try Iyengar Yoga and Hatha yoga (with props) for a restorative experience.

If you are aiming for weight loss then you must choose vigorous styles of yoga-like Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Power Yoga, Hot Yoga, and Bikram yoga.

Although all style of yoga makes you flexible, whereas if want to achieve good flexibility then you should practice Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, and Hot Yoga.

If you are a beginner then you start your yoga journey by choosing between Hatha Yoga, Sivananda yoga, Iyengar Yoga, Yin Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, and Vini yoga as per your requirements.

This completely depends on your goal i.e. weight loss, flexibility, stress relief, therapy for injury, intense workout, or spirituality. If you are a beginner then you start with Hatha Yoga or Sivananda Yoga or Vini Yoga.


I hope you liked this post. Now I will like to hear from you. What did you think of today’s post? Or maybe you still have a question about types of yoga.

Please share which type of yoga you are practicing and looking forward to learning?

Let me know by leaving a comment below.

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Picture of About the Author: Sukhvinder Singh Chaitanya

About the Author: Sukhvinder Singh Chaitanya

Sukhvinder Singh (Chaitanya) is an experienced yoga teacher. (ERYT-500 & YACEP with 20,000+ hours of teaching experience) He is a master yoga teacher in Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, Vinyasa Flow, Hatha Yoga, Yin Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, Ayurveda & Laughter Yoga. He has been teaching yoga, laughter yoga & meditation all across the globe in teacher training programs, workshops & corporate sector for almost 10 years. He's the founder and director of the Yoga Chaitanya International Institute, a leading Yoga Teacher Training school in the world. He shares his expertise in his blogs and his YouTube Channels.

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