Hatha yoga is one of the original six branches of yoga. In Sanskrit “hatha” means physical posture, so essentially Hatha yoga covers all types of yoga.
When you attend a hatha yoga class at a studio you can expect a slower-paced class that focuses on asana (postures) and pranayama (breathing techniques). It is great choice for beginners and for those looking to deepen their knowledge of individual postures.
Vinyasa means “to flow.” Vinyasa yoga is a dynamic practice that focuses on continuous, flowing movements with transitions linked to the breath. This title is often applied to power classes that focus on strength.
Ashtanga yoga is made up of six series, beginning with the primary series. In this strict practice, the student works with a teacher to perfect the first series before moving on to the next series. Ashtanga practitioners move though the set of poses quickly, using the breath to link postures. It is great for the dedicated practitioner who strives for perfection.
B.K.S. Iyengar founded Iyengar Yoga in the 1970s. It is a precise and detail-oriented practice, focusing on proper alignment and sequencing of 200 classical yoga postures. This practice utilizes a variety of props to help the student achieve proper form no matter their level of ability.
Iyengar is seen as a pure form of yoga and offers a wealth of knowledge about the structure of both the body and the yoga pose. It is great for those wanting to have an intimate awareness of each posture, or for those re-entering their practice after an injury.
Yin yoga is all about peace. It focuses on lengthening muscles and connective tissues in a calm, meditative environment. The room is generally dimly lit with soft music playing.
In Yin, students hold few postures for a longer stretch of time — usually five minutes or more. The poses are passive, meaning gravity does the work while the student focuses on breathing and relaxing the body.
Yin yoga postures often focus on stretching the hips, inner thighs, and the psoas muscle (the primary muscle that connects the torso to the legs). Many yogis believe that emotions are stored in these areas of the body, so Yin classes can act as a way to release emotions and stress, balancing the mind and body.
Kundalini yoga practitioners believe there is an energy source located at the base of the spine, coiled like a snake. The yoga practice is made up of large, invigorating, and fluid movements meant to awaken the energy and move it up the spine.
Once the energy moves up the spine it is released out of the crown of the head. This is believed to open the seventh chakra (called “Sahasrara” in Sanskrit), which is connected to enlightenment and spiritual connection.
This largely spiritual class is best suited for those seeking a connection to their higher selves.