People perceive “THE YOGA” in different ways. For some people yoga is a lifestyle while for a few others it is a discipline; for some people it is a science while for a few others it is a spiritual gateway. However, people may see yoga in various directions, yoga is always an absolute blessing to humankind.
There are different types of yoga poses out there. Like -
- Yoga which helps experience the inner flow of energy
- Yoga which keeps physical energies on check.
- Yoga which helps you discover yourself.
- Yoga which provides you the awareness of your body and mind.
And more and more.
You need to figure out which yoga form is your cup of tea and serves everything for you to reach your expectations. So we are here to assist you in understanding different types of yoga poses and their benefits to enhance your overall yoga experience.
So let's get started - “The Ultimate Guide To 20 Most Popular Types Of Yoga Asanas.”
Different Types Of Yoga Poses And Their Benefits
- Bikram Yoga
During the late nineties, Bikram Choudhury initially designed Bikram Yoga. This yoga is also popularly known as “Hot Yoga.” Now if you wonder why is it called hot yoga, here is your answer. The specialty of this yoga is that all the yoga poses are performed in a heated chamber or a hot room where the temperatures are maintained between 42°C to 45°C while maintaining 40% humidity levels.
Bikram yoga involves a set sequence of 26 postures. And each pose is held for 10 to 60 seconds.
- Pranayama - It's a standing deep breathing pose which helps you improve detoxification of the organs, and increase mental relaxation.
- Utkatasana - Stretch your arms forward and sit just like sitting on an imaginary chair. This posture helps in circulating fresh blood to knees and ankles.
- Dandayamana Janushirasana - Rise your right leg up and hold it tight with your palms. Make sure your chest touches your knee. This posture improves concentration and builds mental strength.
The magic is all with the temperatures. The external heat allows muscles to expand and contract to higher limits. This point is one great differentiating factor between Bikram Yoga and the rest of the yoga forms. Let’s see the benefits -
- A 60-minute hot yoga class makes your skin vibrant and glorious.
- It builds strength and tone muscles; helps sculpting your body into the right shape.
- It enhances the will power, and concentration.
- It strengthens the immune system.
- Ashtanga Yoga
Ashtanga yoga means “eight-limbed yoga.” Ashtanga includes various yoga forms such as Yamas, Niyamas, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi. Remember, all the posture sequences of Ashtanga are patterns which connect through deep breath and slow movement.
- Trikonasana - Open up your chest, stretch your arms and touch your toe by bending over your hip.
- Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana - It is a standing pose where you lift your leg to your shoulder level without bending your knee. Stretch your hand out to hold your toe.
- Paschimottanasana - Sit down with your both legs joined together without bending your knees. Lean forward at your hips and grab your feet with your hands.
- It increases blood flow through arteries and supports the functioning of the heart. People suffering from hypertension find this yoga form best suited for their needs.
- It detoxifies the body and assists in getting rid of body fat. If you want a lean and nicely toned body, then go for Ashtanga.
- It tones the lower abdominal muscles and helps in recovery from problems like backaches, etc.
- It provides relaxation; leaves your mind refreshed and rejuvenated.
- It helps you find a balance between feelings and emotions.
- Prenatal Yoga
Prenatal Yoga is a form of yoga for “Soon-to-be Moms.” So all the baby bumps get ready for some yoga! Prenatal is a slow form of yoga which helps pregnant women stay in shape and prepare for labor. During pregnancy, mothers feel anxious and exhausted. This yoga form takes care of everything to make you get rid of stress and supports the healthy development of the baby.
No worries, gonna-be-mommies! Prenatal yoga comprises safe poses which ease many of the common discomforts of pregnant women. Is it your back, pelvis, or hips that seems to be numb and not existing in your body? These yoga postures can be a great help -
- Cat-Cow Stretch (Chakravakasana) - A back bending pose. Start by balancing your body on your knees and palms. Further, stretch your tailbone by lowering your back along with the abdomen.Gate Pose (Parighasana) - The pose involves a deep stretch along the side body. Kneel and stretch your right leg sideways. Stretch your left arm towards the top and other towards the right toe. Stay in the pose for a minute and then repeat on the opposite side.
- It increases strength, flexibility, and endurance of muscles needed during the labor.
- It helps in massaging the muscles around the uterus and the ovaries, for the smooth functioning of the reproductive system.
- It builds up stamina and improves blood circulation which helps pregnant women to manage the pain of contractions.
- Anusara Yoga
Anusara yoga is a modern-day Hatha yoga. The right keywords to understand Anusara yoga is alignment and grace of the postures. This yoga form is all about aligning your body, heart, and mind in the right direction. The various poses in Anusara yoga focus on flowing with grace, meditating, working on breath control.
There are over 260 yoga poses included in Anusara yoga, and the most important ones are -
- The Half Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana) - Stand straight up, bend sideways towards your right such that your left leg positions at the right angle to the right leg. Place your right palm on the floor parallel to the right foot.
- The Twist Pose (Vakrasana) - Sit down with your legs folded in such a way that your left leg touches the floor and the right one goes over the left leg. Let your right foot touch the ground and place your left arm in front of your right leg touching the floor.
- The Warrior Pose (Virabhadrasana) - Stand up straight with your arms and legs stretched wide. Bend one of your knees and rest your body on the bent knee while keeping your body straight.
- It improves your energy, and makes you look more graceful than ever.
- It helps you gain a stress-free lifestyle, and lets positive energy flow through your body.
- Vinyasa Yoga
The word Vinyasa means “arranging something specially.” This yoga form is a deliberate yoga practice where you arrange your body parts in different poses and change your poses at a slow pace. Whether you're a beginner or a perfectionist, while practicing Vinyasa you need to be a little more conscious and strive to raise your inner voice.
Switching from one pose to the next can be challenging to achieve. This is because one has to maintain and stay in composure while changing the poses. Being elegant as a flowing fluid is a key to succeeding the Vinyasa. These are the most common poses of Vinyasa -
- Downward-facing dog (Adho mukha svanasana): Place all your four firmly on the mat and lift your hips high to the sky
- Mountain pose (Tadasana): Stand up with your feet together with hip-width apart. Inhale, lift the toes and shoulders, tuck the tailbone inside, stay in the position for 30 seconds, exhale and relax.
- Low lunge with a twist: Start this pose from downward-facing dog pose. Step your right foot forward. Place your foot between your hands for a low lunge and sweep one arm high.
- It allows you to shun the static thoughts running through your mind.
- It contributes to toning muscles and improving functional strength.
- It improves sleep, reduces stress, quells anxiety and treats any addictions.
- It improves core strength of your body.
- Iyenger Yoga
Iyengar yoga is named after a great yogi B.K.S. Iyengar. Alignment of postures, the order that the postures are practiced and the periods to hold a pose is the main content of Iyengar yoga. The specialty of this form is that it focuses on postural alignment for more extended periods. But how? Is it possible for holding a pose for such a long time? For regular practitioners, Iyengar yoga is easy to perform while for beginners and occasional practitioners it can be practiced by using props like blocks, chairs, belts, and blankets, to make the poses accessible.
For performing each pose of Iyengar yoga, one requires to put great effort and concentration during a session. Let's see what the basic poses are -
- Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend) - Stand straight up, bend forward from the waist, push your upper body forward in such a way that your hip bones are the apex of your pose. Place your hand on the floor reaching behind your ankles.
- Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose) - Start with lying down by positioning your back on the floor. Bend your knees and put your feet together flat on the ground. Place your arms alongside your hips. As the next step, bring the soles of the feet to touch each other while creating a stretch across your inner thighs.
- Paschimottanasana (Sitting Forward Bend) - Sit down with your legs straight in front of your body. Bend your body from your waist stretching your hands up over your head with your arms touching your ears. Focus on resting your belly on your thighs.
- It cures different mental ailments including chronic pain, insomnia, and depression.
- It improves concentration and focus.
- It improves the overall performance of the body; eliminates toxins from your body and shows a significant impact on the nourishment of organs.
- It transforms your body by making it craving for living a healthier lifestyle. Practicing Iyengar means steering yourself towards healthier food and lifestyle choices.
- It cures stomach pains and menstrual cramps. Also, Iyengar works excellent for toning internal organs like liver, spleen, and kidneys.
- Jivamukti Yoga
Jivamukti yoga is for people who are music lovers and who want to practice modern yoga. The core philosophy of this yoga comprises of two main parts -
"Sthira" - means consistent, reliable, steady, and stable.
"Sukham" - means joy and happiness.
Jivamukti yoga is strongly aligned with its philosophy as it involves performing various asana (Sthira) while listening to pleasant music (Sukham).
All the posture sequences of this yoga form incorporates six main elements - chanting, meditation, pranayama, philosophy, music, and asana. Check out these few poses
- Monkey Pose (Hanumanasana) - Do a split with your legs on the floor and your arms raised towards the ceiling.
- Dancing Shiva Pose (Natarajasana) - Balance all your weight on one leg, while the other leg is held up behind by your hand.
- Bow Pose (Dhanurasana) - Start with lying your face and body down on the mat and then lifting your chest and legs off the floor. Stretch your arms out behind you and grasp the ankles to hold the legs up.
- It brings a sense of unity of personal emotions. This yoga makes you start caring about yourself and the world that you live in.
- It sharpens your IQ levels. You will be able to act better in situations where you have to make decisions.
- Kripalu Yoga
This yoga form involves asana practices that emphasize meditation and breathwork while inclining towards the spiritual side. Its philosophy strongly implies that one should practice yoga just as how one lives their life. Generally, all the asanas of Kripalu yoga require longer holds than usual. Also, this yoga form focuses on in-depth meditation sessions.
- Frog Pose or Mandukasana - Sit on your knees. Widen your knees until you feel a good stretch in your groin muscles and hips. Bring the elbows and forearms flat on to the floor.
- Kripalu's Dans Kinetics - It is a dynamic blend of dance and yoga. It is a combination of asana, music, and dance which is practiced in the most playful atmosphere.
- It brings stillness in your mind and enlightens you about how to react while tapping into stressful situations.
- It helps you start loving yourself and your body; teaches you how not to be judgmental about and how to accept yourself.
- Hatha Yoga
Hatha Yoga is the most popular yoga forms in western parts of the world. Hatha is a general category that comprises of most yoga styles. If a person prefers a more relaxed style of yoga and comfortable with holding the poses for long then Hatha yoga would be his/her best choice.
Hatha yoga centers mostly on physical poses, which work primarily on the spine. Check out the following poses -
- Vrikshasana (Tree Pose) - This is a beginner level asana where you need to stand balancing on right leg. Bend your left knee and place your left foot on the right thigh. Bring your palms together straight above your head to do a ‘Namaste.’
- Tadasana (Mountain Pose) - Stand on your toes with your heels slightly apart. Firm your thigh muscles and release, lift your kneecaps, raise the inner ankles, widen your collarbones and release. Align your neck straight so it feels long. Inhale and exhale deeply.
- Baddha Konasana (Cobbler Pose) - Sit, and open your hips joined by the feet. Make sure you keep your spine straight.
- It strengthens the ligaments and tendons of your feet.
- It relieves your stress; develops strength, and flexibility.
- Karma Yoga
Karma yoga focuses on making you understand the importance of doing your duty with utmost care and responsibility. It says that showing dedication to work without expecting results is the correct way of living.
- Do not neglect your daily tasks and responsibilities.
- Reduce your desires and continue with your activities even if they are unpleasant or painful to perform. True renunciation is giving up of the attractions and achieving the fruit of your actions.
- It infuses positivity and wisdom for living a better life.
- It teaches how to be selfless and how to deal life with the right knowledge and correct approach.
- It cures feelings of worry, fear, stress, and anxiety.
- Yin Yoga
Yin yoga involves variations of seated and supine poses where each pose is typically held for 5 minutes. Yin yoga primarily targets the superficial muscles. It cures and maintains the health of the ligaments, joints, bones, and deep fascia networks. If you want to begin a meditation practice, Yin Yoga may be an ideal opportunity to do that. For practicing Yin, one needs to spare a lot of mental time.
- Heart-opening Pose - Start with a closed-off chest with rounded shoulders. Come out of this posture through a heart-opening sequence. This movement will help you bring the mind and emotions out of grief.
- Toe Squat - Tuck your toes under you while you sit on the floor. Lift up into a high kneeling position. Do an ankle stretch while your weight is grounded down through the tops of the feet and ankles. Lean back slightly and lift the heart towards the ceiling for a very gentle backbend.
- It aims to release fascia and improves joint mobility. This effect is due to the application of pressure on the connective tissues which is a result of long static poses.
- It improves stillness both externally and internally.
- It helps in coping with anger and irritability.
- Ishta Yoga
Consolidating different types of yoga gives you Ishta yoga. This yoga form is drawn from age-old yoga traditions like Viniyoga, Ashtanga yoga, and Iyengar yoga. From dynamic poses to softly flowing poses, you can experience Ishta yoga in multiple directions. Ishta yoga includes various forms of meditation and relaxation.
- Bharadvaja's Twist - Sit on your mat on your knees, straighten up your back, and put feet flat on the floor. Inhale and lift your head and neck as high as possible towards the ceiling.
- Camel Pose (Ustrasana) - Kneel and then bend your body backwards until your hands can reach the soles of your feet.
- It improves physical, mental, and spiritual health.
- It unwinds mental struggle, clears minds, and brings inner peace.
- Sivananda Yoga
This form of yoga is a traditional form of yoga which balances between, meditation and asanas. Sivananda yoga follows six fundamental principles:
- Exercising in the form of Asana - a twelve pose sequence.
- Breathing in the form of Pranayama.
- Relaxing in the form of Savasana.
- Consuming food which involves no killing of animals.
- Positive thinking in the form of Vedanta.
- Meditating in the form of Dhyana.
To complete one session of Sivananda yoga, it takes typically 90 minutes.
- Shoulderstand - It is an inverted pose of your body where you balance your legs facing the sky with the help of your shoulders, head and neck.
- Fish - Start with lying down. Push your chest above the floor while breathing deeply. Position your body in such a way that only your chest pops up while your lower body, waist, and head are in contact with the floor.
- Leg Lifts - Lie down on the floor with one leg raised, stretching it towards the head. Hold your foot above your head with both your hands for balance.
- It improves the functioning of the abdominal organs and relieves you from problems like constipation.
- It relaxes all major back muscles and makes the spine more elastic.
- It strengthens the abdominal muscles.
Triyoga focuses on three specific components: asana, pranayama, and mudra. The evolution of this yoga form has occurred by clubbing Karma yoga, Bhakti yoga, and Jnana yoga. It is a traditional and the most ancient form of yoga which involves unique sequences of asanas and breathing exercises.
Triyoga compromises of simpler poses and sequences, progressing over time.
- It stimulates the healing of the stresses and shows a profound effect on the nervous system.
- It heals trauma and improves mental strength.
- Raja Yoga
Raja yoga is all about training yourself to be autonomous, independent and fearless just like a king. Practicing Raja yoga is traveling a journey of self-discovery. This yoga tells you how you have listed yourself in the busy world and helps you find your inner power.
- Spiritual Awareness - this section of the yoga gives you the power to choose good and positive thoughts over those which are negative and useless.
- Yama - tells you that “Self-Control” is essential and drives you to follow ahimsa.
- It helps you achieve not only external purity but also, more importantly, inner purity.
- It helps you to recognize that all worldly goods bring disappointment and peace of mind is your real wealth.
- It awakens your inner powers and guides you to walk on the spiritual path.
- Kundalini Yoga
Kundalini Yoga is a blend of three yoga forms -
- "Bhakti Yoga" is an ancient yoga form which practices devotion and chanting.
- "Raja Yoga" is a yoga form which concentrates on attaining mental and physical control through meditation.
- "Shakti Yoga" is a yoga form which delivers the expression of power and energy.
Traditional Kundalini yoga class believes in white. The yoga practitioners only wear white clothes as they think that white acts as a barrier to uncontrollable actions and thoughts of humans.
- Breath of Fire - Sit on your knees with your legs folded. Make sure that the tips of your index finger and thumb are in contact. Keep your eyes closed and focus your thoughts at the brow point. Inhale and exhale deeply while posing.
- Lotus Pose (Padmasana) - Sit cross-legged on the mat with the feet turned out and upward facing the ceiling. Keep your back straight and let your hands fall to your lap.
- Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana) - To do this pose, lie on your tummy with your legs and shins touching the mat. Position your arms to the sides. As the next step, slowly bend your elbows and plant your hands flat on the floor near your shoulders. Then, use your arms for support, lift your upper body so that your back forms an arch, and raise your head towards the ceiling.
- It helps the nervous system; strengthens the nervous network.
- It releases toxins, and cleans the blood; increases vitality and boosts brain functionality.
- It adjusts and stabilizes hormonal secretions; clears lingering viruses, bacteria, pathogens, and illnesses; increases a glow in the total body.
- Power Yoga
Power yoga is a vigorous, fitness-based approach to performing yoga. This yoga form incorporates the athleticism of Ashtanga and some cardiovascular exercises. Power yoga is all about pumping up your heart and burning some considerable amount of calories.
- Utkatasana - Squat down halfway and get up while inhaling and exhaling deeply.
- Downward Dog to Half Plank - Raise your leg high up to the ceiling and get it forward until you tighten your abdominal muscles.
- Markatasana - Twist one leg over the other alternatively to help relieve stress and tension in the back.
- It increases stamina, strength, and flexibility.
- The physically intensive asanas help you shape your body features.
- It cures chronic physical ailments such as diabetes and arthritis.
- Tantra Yoga
Tantra yoga works on the subtle energies within the body. It enhances your spirituality and physical well being. Through tantra yoga create a bridge between your body and the divinity. Tantra yoga is often misunderstood as it is a form of yoga to improve intimacy with your partner. Well, that is a huge mistake. Tantra yoga does a lot more than that. It believes that by connecting with your partner through the form of yoga, one can reach beyond the world and find peace.
All the positions in the Tantra yoga are practiced by coupling with a partner. Let's see how the postures look like -
- Seated Spinal Twist - Sit on your knees with knees touching one another. Place your left arm behind your back and extend your right wing to reach your partner’s left palm.
- Warrior Poses - Stand with the toes of your right feet touching that of your partner. Bend your knees with the left feet stretching towards outside. Raise your arms above your heads.
- Boat Pose - Sit facing your partner. Place the soles of your feet against your partner's soles and hold one another's hands. Lean back and straighten your legs while keeping the soles of your feet in contact.
- It helps you create a deeper and more spiritual bond with your partner.
- It takes care of multiple sclerosis, general fatigue, back and shoulder problems.
- Bhakti Yoga
Bhakti yoga embraces some of yoga's devotional practices. Bhakti yoga is also called Bhakti Marga. Its principle says that emotion has always been the dominant factor in human beings and devoting yourself to the almighty is a way of transforming your emotion from negativity to pleasantness.
- Apar Bhakti - Offer verbal prayers, flowers, Naivedyam to the idol of spiritual existence.
- Singing Yogic Philosophy - Find a place inside yourself and discover yourself through the form of singing.
- Atma Nivedana - Surrender yourself and self-offering towards the divine.
- It softens your heart as it removes anger, arrogance, egoism, hatred, jealousy, lust, and pride.
- It helps you gain wisdom about man’s unwanted desires for worldly pleasures and helps you to deal with them.
- Restorative Yoga
In restorative yoga, props are significant elements. This yoga form involves using props extensively to support your body and hold poses for more extended periods. Imagine owning a stretch by taking assistance from a strap wrapped around the foot. That's quite a fun thing to do. Isn't it? Hold your props, pose for an extended period, often up to ten or twenty minutes and get lost into the yogic world.
- Legs up the wall (Viparita Karani) - This pose is a classic restorative pose. Set yourself upside down, by taking the support from the wall. Here, wall acts as a prop to support your legs.
- Supported Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana) - Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Put your feet just as far as you can touch them with your fingertips. Grab a yoga block, place it under your sacrum on the lowest level of height and stay in that pose.
- It improves patience and stillness of your body and mind.
- It provides relaxation and a calmer state of mind.
Although most of you know the benefits of various types of yoga, there is always a hesitation which sits in your mind and stops you from starting yoga. Question yourself “Why not yoga?” instead of “Why yoga?”
Practicing yoga is a great way to free yourself from all kinds of troubles you are facing. Whether it is your body, mind or soul, yoga takes care of everything. Yoga delivers its wealth depending on what your body and soul may need during different aspects of your life. Yoga’s healing power is incredible, and you can only see it if you believe in it. So, dust off that yoga mat sitting for ages in your attic, and get ready to tap into the magic of yoga. All the best!
Let us know - what you think about the article? According to you, which yoga is the best?