Styles of Yoga
What the heck is yoga, anyways? It depends on whom you ask. If you ask us, we will tell you that yoga is simply the practice of being present with what shows up in your mind and body.
Veterans Yoga Project teachers have come from all styles and lineages of yoga, of which the main ones are listed below. We do not prescribe to any one practice over another. The best practice is the one that resonates with you. If you try a style and say, well that sucked, give another teacher/school/style a try! Keep breathing, keep practicing.
Most yoga classes you can find in the US derive from the Hatha tradition. In the Sanskrit language (the most commonly used language in many yoga practices) HA means sun or force, and THA means moon or effort; a practice that combines your movement and breath together to create a well-balanced practice. You can expect a gentle to moderate movement practice with alignment cues and adjustments.
This style of yoga was crafted by B.K.S. Iyengar and involves many (gear) props and clear direction to set up for each physical pose. Each physical pose is held for several breaths. Iyengar teachers go through pretty extensive training; if you are recovering from an injury or really new to yoga, search your area for an Iyengar class.
Vinyasa (Sanskrit word) means “to place in a specific way” (you may also hear this word in a hatha class as an offering to flow from one movement to the next, often times during a sun salutation). In a Vinyasa class, you can expect the practice to flow from one pose to the next, with emphasis placed on your own breath and body. No two Vinyasa classes are the same and can be physically challenging.
Developed by Bikram Choudhury, these classes are exactly the same no matter where you go. A set of 26 poses are taught in a very heated - 108* - room. No (gear) props are used nor are variations encouraged. You will sweat A LOT in this class, so be sure to bring water!
This practice is designed to restore and relax both your physical and emotional states. (Gear) Props are used heavily in this class to support your body throughout the entire class, allowing a balance between gravity and (gear) props to release tension and tightness. There isn’t a lot of moving in the practice as poses can be held for a few to several minutes.
Similar to restorative, yin classes are not active; rather they are passive in nature. In a yin practice, poses are held for a few minutes to allow for a deeper release within the fascia, in comparison to one of the more active classes that stretch the more superficial muscles. (Gear) Props may or may not be used depending on your teacher.
In Sanskrit, Ashtanga means “eight limbed path”. This style is a very physically demanding practice wherein the physical practice is the same set of poses in each class. Depending on the teacher, some classes may even be self guided. If you feel like this is the practice for you, find a studio that breaks down the sequence first so you have an understanding of each movement.
Baptiste yoga was developed in the 1940’s by Walter Baptiste. The practices encourage self inquiry and tend to be more physical in nature. Minimal (gear) props are used as the classes are powerful and fast paced.
Developed by John Friend, Anusara is a practice that combines breath and movement (just like Hatha) with emphasis on the mind-body connection. Classes tend to be gentle to moderate with breakdowns of each pose.
Developed in the 1980’s by Sharon Ganon and David Life, Jivamukti is mainly a Vinyasa style class woven around the Hindu teachings. Chanting is a regular occurrence as well as deep philosophy nuggets in each class. This is a very earthy practice and can be welcomed by all levels.
Kundalini is Sanskrit for “divine feminine energy” and is said to reside in all of us. These practices include chanting, meditating, and repetitive movements to release that energy. These classes tend to be very active in nature as a way to encourage the release of that coiled energy residing within us.
Rather than focusing on yoga methods and practices, yoga therapists fundamentally focus on their clients’ needs. Their job is to understand why their clients have come to see them and determine what they can do to support them. To help them in their work, therapists are trained to assess clients through listening, questioning, observing, and appropriately touching. Therapists look for ways to help their clients reduce or manage their symptoms, improve their function, and help them with their attitude in relation to their health conditions. After assessing clients, therapists establish appropriate goals, develop a practice intervention, and then teach clients to practice that intervention.
In this sense, therapists choose yoga techniques in relation to how they will specifically benefit individual clients. More Information