This page is dedicated to answering questions about yoga and anything related to yoga, as well as resources for our yoga industry and links. The more feedback we get from you, the more we are able to post and serve you better with as much information you would like to gather.
Q. What is yoga?
A. There are a variety of explanations to what yoga is, but most importantly yoga is literally “to yoke” or to unify. It is a connection of the mind, body and breath.
Q. How many styles of yoga are there?
A. There are many different styles of yoga and the list of the styles continue to grow. However, our friends of Mind Body Green, https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-8622/14-styles-of-yoga-explained-simply.html, have put together a list of the top 14 styles of yoga that are not only popular to practice, but that are a great resource for you as you begin your yoga journey or are looking to explore deeper into your practice.
Anusara is often described as Iyengar (a purist form of yoga) with a sense of humor. Created by the aptly named John Friend, Anusara is meant to be heartfelt and accepting. Instead of trying to fit everyone into standard cookie-cutter positions, students are guided to express themselves through the poses to their fullest ability.
Six established and strenuous pose sequences — the primary series, second series, third series, and so on — practiced sequentially as progress is made. Ashtangis move rapidly, flowing from one pose to the next with each inhale and exhale. Each series of poses linked by the breath this way is called a vinyasa.
NOTE: This practice originated with Pathabis Jois and has had an incredible following and is a very disciplined practice. Kino MacGregor, one of the World’s most well known practicing Ashtangis and mastered through the 3rd series is owner of Miami Life Center : http://miamilifecenter.com/ in Miami, FL and hosts workshops and seminars all over the world to not only introduce this practice to new and seasoned yogis, but to continue a lineage very near a dear to the heart of most all yogis. This Ashtanga practice is based on the 8 limbs of yoga. Ashtanga literally means * limbs.
Bikram features yoga poses in a sauna-like room. The heat is cranked up to nearly 108 degrees and 40 percent humidity in official Bikram classes. If it’s called “Bikram” (for inventor Bikram Choudhury), it will be a series of 26 basic yoga postures, each performed twice.
Note: It is highly recommended that you attend this class for a minimum of 3 times so that your body is able to acclimate to the heat and sensations it will experience. You are encouraged to wear as minimal of clothes as possible as you will seat a lot. A bathing suit or shorts and a top you are comfortable with is perfect. Be sure to bring a towel or two, a change of clothes for after class, 2 water bottles, one that has been frozen, and frozen coconut water to drink after class.
By definition, hatha is a physical yoga practice, which is pretty much all yoga you’ll find in this hemisphere. One of the six original branches of yoga, “hatha” encompasses nearly all types of modern yoga. In other words, hatha is the ice cream if styles like ashtanga and Bikram are vanilla and chocolate chip. Today, classes described as “hatha” on studio schedules are typically a basic and classical approach to yogic breathing exercises and postures.
Note: The word haṭha means “force” in Sanskrit, and may have this association because the early Indians believed that its practice was challenging and “forced its results to happen” on the yogi. The Hatha yoga practice emphasizes proper diet, processes to internally purify the body, proper breathing and its regulation particularly during the yoga practice, and the exercise routine consisting of asanas (bodily postures). The methodology sometimes includes sequences such as the Surya Namaskara, or “salute to the sun”, which consists of several asanas performed as a fluid movement sequence. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hatha_yoga
This is a purist yoga named after founder B.K.S. Iyengar. Props like blocks, straps, harnesses, and incline boards are used to get you more perfectly into positions and have earned the style its nickname, “furniture yoga.” Appropriate for all ages and abilities, Iyengar yoga is all about precise alignment and deliberate sequencing. Don’t take that to mean easy.
A physical, limit-pushing practice that reintegrates yoga’s traditional spiritual elements in an educational way for Western practitioners. Expect a theme for each class, Sanskrit chanting, and references to ancient scripture. Created by Sharon Gannon and David Life in 1984 in New York City, jivamukti translates as “liberation while living.” https://jivamuktiyoga.com/about/gurus
Kripalu is a three-part practice that teaches you to get to know, accept, and learn from your body. It starts with figuring out how your body works in different poses, then moves toward postures held for an extended time and meditation. It then taps deep into your being to find spontaneous flow in asanas, letting your body be the teacher.
Kripalu Yoga is a challenging approach to asana practice that emphasizes meditation and breathwork, and encourages inward focus and spiritual attunement. Basic Principle: Practicing Kripalu Yoga can initiate a gradual process of physical healing, psychological growth, and spiritual awakening. http://www.discoveryyoga.com/kripaluy.htm
Note: There are centers where families are raised known as Ashrams. A community of like minded practitioners. You are welcome to visit anytime and they offer Karma Yoga. You are welcome to stay free in exchange for your service. https://kripalu.org
The practice of kundalini yoga features constantly moving, invigorating poses. The fluidity of the practice is intended to release the kundalini (serpent) energy in your body. Weren’t aware you had any? Well, just think of it as an energy supply, coiled like a sleeping snake at the base of the spine, waiting to be tapped; the practice aims to do just that — awaken and pulse the stuff upward through the body.
Note: In 1968, Yogi Bhajan introduced his own brand of kundalini yoga into the United States, “Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan”. Yogi Bhajan founded the “Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization” (3HO) as a teaching organization. Yogi Bhajan took yogic postures and techniques, attached them to Tantric theories and Sikh mantras, synthesizing a new form of ‘Kundalini’ yoga. Lots more information about Kundalini yoga at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kundalini_yoga
Yoga postures carefully adapted for expectant mothers. Prenatal yoga is tailored to help women in all stages of pregnancy, even those getting back in shape post-birth. When you keep your muscles strong through your term, they will still have the strength and energy to return to normal.
Less work, more relaxation. You’ll spend as many as 20 minutes each in just four or five simple poses (often they’re modifications of standard asanas) using strategically placed props like blankets, bolsters, and soothing lavender eye pillows to help you sink into deep relaxation. There’s also psychic cleansing: the mind goes to mush and you feel brand new. It’s something like group nap time for grownups. It’s better not to fall asleep, though, but no judgment if you do. Your body is calling for the rest.
An unhurried yoga practice that typically focuses on the same 12 basic asanas or variations thereof every time, bookended by sun salutations and savasana (corpse pose). The system is based on a five-point philosophy that proper breathing, relaxation, diet, exercise, and positive thinking work together to form a healthy yogic lifestyle.
Note: There are many Sivananda Ashrams all over the world dedicated to this practice and way of life. Visit here to discover more: http://www.sivananda.org/about/
A highly individualized practice in which yogis learn to adapt poses and goals to their own needs and abilities. Vini actually means differentiation, adaptation, and appropriate application. Instead of focusing on stretching to get strong and flexible, viniyoga uses the principles of proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF). PNF simply means warming up and contracting a muscle before stretching it. This decreases your chance of injury.
Note: Gary Kraftsow has been a pioneer in the transmission of yoga for health, healing and personal transformation for over 30 years. He began his study of yoga in India with T.K.V. http://www.viniyoga.com/about/who-we-are/about-gary-kraftsow
Vinyasa / Power
An active and athletic style of yoga adapted from the traditional ashtanga system in the late 1980s to appeal to aerobic-crazed Westerners. After having studied with Pattabhi Jois, Beryl Bender Birch and Bryan Kest simultaneously pioneered this westernized ashtanga on the East and West coasts, respectively. Power yoga doesn’t stick to the same sequence of poses each time like ashtanga does, so the style varies depending on the teacher. Classes called “vinyasa” or “flow” in your gym or studio can be vastly different but in general stem from this movement and from ashtanga as well.
A quiet, meditative yoga practice, also called taoist yoga. Yin focuses on lengthening connective tissues and is meant to complement yang yoga—your muscle-forming Anusara, ashtanga, Iyengar, or what have you. Yin poses are passive, meaning you’re supposed to relax muscles and let gravity do the work. And they’re long — you’ll practice patience here too.
Q. What is the best style of Yoga for beginners?
This really depends on what the student is looking for. If the student is a “Type A” personality, the Ashtanga or Bikram will be to your liking. If you prefer a slower pace, then gentle yoga and foundation yoga classes would be the best option. If you want a challenge and want to tap into a spiritual practice, then vinyasa yoga and bhakti yoga is where to tune in. Depending on where you live, it is always best to do a google search or join a facebook group / kula (Community) of yoga, to see where they offer Free/ Donation based/ or community yoga classes so you are able to get a taste or a sample of the different styles offered. Also, most studios have a free first time pass. Call ahead of time to the studio you want to attend to find out.
Jai Bhakti Yoga offers community classes and also partners with many local studios to bring their schedules and Free guest passes for first time students. Christina Andrini has a great relationship with the yoga community and works hard to guide students to deepen their yoga practice and encourages them to visit many studios, so she brings these Free passes to her community classes to hand them out.