Strike a Pose! 5 Types of Yoga Explained

types of yoga

If you’ve been following my posts, you know that I’m somewhat of a gym rat, who loves everything from bhangra workouts to running long-distance marathons. But it would be amiss to talk about fitness and not mention the exercise of our South Asian heritage: yoga.

Yoga was originated by Hindu monks in ancient India looking to achieve the utmost inner peace and the ultimate mind-body connection. Over time it has evolved to become one of the most popular ways to help people stay in shape. From Hatha to Bikram, yoga has erupted into the fitness world to help runners, cyclists and the like use the stretching and breathing technique of yoga poses to help build and strengthen muscles. So, no matter what your fitness routine may be, you can find a way to enhance it by adding in yoga. Here’s a breakdown of the 5 types of yoga commonly practiced and how they can help complement your existing fitness regimen!

Hatha Yoga

The term “hatha” is used to describe the most basic form of yoga practice that is focused around breathing and postures. The hatha practice helps to achieve a concentrated state, which allows you to focus your energy into your muscles to relieve tension and enter a peaceful state.

Perfect for: Someone who needs stress relief and/or is new to yoga. Whether you’re training for a race or just had a hard day at work, Hatha yoga is perfect for the person looking to unwind. Its slow pace and gentle movements mean it’s also great for the beginner to yoga. If you work out regularly or want to try something new, Hatha is a great complement to any fitness routine!

Vinyasa Yoga

Vinyasa, or “flow” yoga, is similar to Hatha with the focus on breathing, but it also works on incorporating vigorous movements that are synchronized with your breath. During Vinyasa, you’ll  practice many “Sun Salutations” and the “Downward/Upward Facing Dog” that most of us commonly associate with yoga. It is a common misconception that all the types of yoga are about just stretching and breathing, but a Vinyasa class is guaranteed to prove you otherwise!

Perfect for: Someone who wants to build strength and flexibility. Vinyasa yoga has some poses that can be really challenging even if you’re a yoga veteran. Vinyasa practice on its own is excellent for helping develop core strength and muscle toning, while improving coordination. This is a great addition to your fitness routine if you’re working to grow stronger!

Bikram Yoga

Bikram is a form of “hot” yoga that’s practiced in a room where the temperature is maintained at 95 to 100 degrees. (You can find a “hot” yoga class that may not be necessarily called Bikram yoga but still practices a similar routine.) The basis of Bikram is the use of 26 poses that move oxygen to every part of the body to help tone the muscles. Benefits range from helping heal injury and sweating out toxins to assisting in maintaining your body weight. It’s no wonder that it was founded by Bikram Choudhury, an Olympic gold medal weightlifter!

Perfect for: Everyone! Bikram yoga is one of the more popular types of yoga because just about anyone can do it — as long as you’re ready for the heat! It’s especially great for building endurance and cardiovascular strength, deep muscle stretching and recovering from injuries. Bikram is really the all-around kind of workout that can be done independent of other cardio activity.

Ashtanga Yoga

Ashtanga, or “power” yoga, is one of the more advanced types of yoga. Ashtanga works the entire body to improve flexibility and strength and is extremely challenging and demanding on the body. For those who practice yoga regularly, Ashtanga takes the practice to another level and helps sculpt and tone muscles through breathing and a continuous series of movements from one posture to the next. The rapid succession of movement creates internal heat in the body and gets your heart really pumping, almost like the feeling you might get from sprinting — and you aren’t even going anywhere!

Perfect for: Someone who is already active or wants to become more fit. If you already work out or want to find a new way to add strength and definition, consider Ashtanga yoga. This type of yoga will not only help you increase your stamina and muscle tone, but you’ll also find that it really enhances the mind-body connection that yoga was originally developed to create.

Iyenger Yoga

Iyenger yoga is one of the most comprehensive types of yoga. It helps to connect mind, body and soul in its practice with a special focus on correcting bodily ailments. Iyenger yoga uses props like blankets, belts and straps to help deepen the stretches of the poses, and standing poses are especially emphasized. Students work their way up to more difficult poses to help correct a host of bodily issues, inner and outer.

Perfect for: Those inexperienced and experienced to yoga. Iyenger yoga practice is intended to really help those with chronic ailments like arthritis and back pain. Because it’s also great for improving flexibility and coordination, this yoga is an excellent way to both enhance and recover from your regular fitness routines.

Remember — yoga provides an escape from the noise and chaos of everyday life, and it’s doable for people of any fitness level. Plus, we could all use a little more Om in our daily routine, so I say grab a mat and get started! I’ll see you at the studio!


Anu Ashok

Anu has become an expert in fitness through the pursuit of her passion of working out. Whether it is running the marathon or taking the hottest fitness class at the gym, she is constantly exploring the best ways to get fit. Have a question? Email Anu at .

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