4 Types of Yoga – Which One Is Right for Me?

by | Feb 18, 2023

4 Types of Yoga Asana That Will Take Your Practice Next Level

All Styles of Yoga Are Beneficial

Though asana is the third of the eight limbs of yoga, and neither the priority nor the focus of traditional Yoga, it can be a useful tool on the path to the enlightenment found through consistent and rigorous Yoga practice – a tool, not the only tool.

Many people begin their journey inward by starting with a physical practice, and even more practitioners who ultimately find other paths of Yoga more beneficial or enlightening are first introduced to Yoga when they attend a yoga asana class.

The good news: If you try one type of yoga and don’t love it, there are plenty more to choose from.

The even better news: Even if you thought you didn’t like a certain style of yoga after the first try, you can always go check out that same style with a different teacher, at a different time of day, and/ or a different time in your life and see if you like it better then. We evolve, and different types of Yoga are more or less appropriate at different seasons in our lives. 

So There Are 4 Types of Yoga?

Yes and No

You will find research that supports the idea of four paths of Yoga, Hatha Yoga or an asana-focused path being one of them.

For the purposes of this discussion, I have defined four different “buckets” into which the many and varied types of yoga out in the universe can be organized.

There hundreds, maybe a thousand or more different branded types of yoga asana. Just while you have been reading this article, a new one was dreamed up or put out into the world. There may be slight variations in the shape of the poses, a specific sequence to follow, a recommended style of breath, or specifications on how long you should hold the pose or what you should wear or say or think or where you should be while holding that pose that makes the difference.

You’ll notice that if you search for a specific pose name, you’ll find 100 variations. You’ll also find that different groups call the same pose by different names. At this point, no one is right, but so many will argue that fact, deeply invested in the notion that their version of yoga asana is the only right/ true/ safe way to practice.

Let all that go. It only complicates things unnecessarily. If you are just getting started in yoga or if you’re trying to broaden your horizons a bit, the only criteria you need to guide you is your own intuition and what feels safe and good in your body.

To that end, let’s take a look at four basic types of Yoga into which most of the branded yoga styles you see advertised out in the world will fall.

A Few Tips for Exploring Different Styles of Yoga

 

  • Try it. Yoga asana is experiential, meaning that you can’t really know if you’re going to like it until you try it. And even then, whether you love it or not, you may find that the next time you try it is totally different than the first.
  • Try it again. Whether or not you love a specific style of yoga, it is always a good idea to mix things up and try again. A new teacher, another studio, a different time of day, even just how you feel can deeply impact your experience and as you’re getting started, it’s a good idea to try lots of different places, teachers, and types of yoga.
  • Safety first. Some yoga styles and some yoga teachers are more generous than others when it comes to giving you the space to explore how your body feels in any given pose. Remember that you don’t have to look just like the teacher or the guy next to you when you do the poses. Listen to your body and do nothing that feels bad.
  • This is not a “no pain, no gain” situation. Yoga should not hurt. In some cases, you might like it to feel “challenging,” but you never want it to hurt. If any pain, numbness, or tingling occurs, back carefully out of the pose and decide whether you would like to try it again from a slightly different angle or take a pass.
  • Take care of yourself. Yoga can be challenging physically as well as emotionally. It’s not uncommon to have lots of feelings the first few times you do yoga or any time you’re going through a big change in your life. Give yourself permission to do what you need to do during class: drink water, cry, go into Child’s Pose, or step out. It’s your practice and there should be no judgment from others or yourself.

Ready? Let’s take a look at four basic types of Yoga into which will fall most of the branded yoga styles you see advertised out in the world.

Hatha Yoga

Vinyasa Yoga

Restorative Yoga

Hybrid Yoga

 

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Written by Valeria Weber Williamson

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