What’s your flavor? 5 different types of yoga explained

what are the 5 different types of yoga


Nearly all yoga practiced in the West is Hatha yoga. Hatha yoga is a generic term to describe any type of physical practice of the postures of yoga. Generally, a class labeled as Hatha yoga will be a slower paced practice when compared to a Vinyasa class. Both classes will focus on linking the postures with the breath, but a Hatha class is better suited for beginners with more emphasis on alignment and foundations of the physical practice. Once a student has a firm grasp on the physical postures, or asanas, then a Vinyasa style class will be their best bet. You move more quickly through the practice, perhaps even with less verbal instruction from the teacher. On our schedule, Basic Flow classes tend to be more aligned with a traditional Hatha class and our Power Flow classes will be more Vinyasa style.


Bikram yoga is a system of practice that was created by Bikram Choudhury that contains postures from the traditional Hatha yoga techniques that most yoga is based upon. All Bikram yoga classes are the same and the environment is unchanging as well. The typical class consists of a specific series of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises, in a room heated to 105°F over the course of 90 minutes. As part of their training, Bikram yoga teachers learn a script, so no matter where you take a class it will ALWAYS be the same sequence, languaging, and appearance. The studios are lined with mirrors in an effort to help students view their alignment in the postures, and are carpeted to be more forgiving to the body and joints.


Ashtanga yoga is a style of yoga that was popularized by K. Pattabhi Jois in the 20th century. In sanskrit, ashtanga means eight limbs or paths, of which the physical practice of yoga is only one of these limbs. The practice itself is very regimented, and Jois intended for students to master poses before moving onto the next posture. There is a specific series of asanas to be done, always starting with several rounds of sun salutation A, then B, before moving into the primary series, intermediate, then advanced. The series is very demanding and powerful, lending itself to powerful practitioners who are wanting to develop and grow their daily practice.


Kundalini yoga is a blend of meditation, pranayama (breath work), kriyas (physical, repetitive movements designed to cleanse the body), and relaxation. The modern practice was brought to the United States in the 1960s by Yogi Bhajan. Each class opens with a mantra to tune in to the practice and divine teacher within. After opening mantra, the class will involve pranayama of various types to help cleanse the body and mind to promote consciousness and relaxation. Once pranayama is complete, the physical practice begins which will usually involve a specific combination of exercises that are repeated for specific lengths of time, focusing on specific parts of the body. Then, relaxation in savasana followed by meditation and a sealing of the practice with another mantra chant.


Iyengar yoga, named after and developed by BKS Iyengar, is a form of hatha yoga that focuses on detail, precision, and alignment in the physical asana practice. There is generally more holding of the postures than in a flow style class, as more attention is brought to the alignment and learning how to abide comfortably in the body in the postures. The use of props is encouraged to help with the proper alignment and accessibility of the postures. The practice encourages safety, ensuring longevity of practice and injury prevention. The classes vary in sequence, not following a strict set sequence so each class will be different.

No matter which style of yoga you choose, it is worth noting that all of the styles listed here and practiced in the west are based off of the same lineage. Each style has the same basic asanas (maybe calling them something different), but the focus of the practice may be on different aspects of yoga–be it pranayama, meditation, or physical strength. It doesn’t matter what brings you to the mat, you are bound to find a practice style that suits you and your goals!

Sarah Gilbert, RYT 200
Assistant Studio Manager


About Wilmington Yoga

Established in 2000, Wilmington Yoga has offered classes, workshops, teacher trainings and retreats for its community of students. It honors and teaches a wide array of styles based upon students’ individual needs whether it’s weight loss, reducing back pain, decreasing anxiety, or simply being a part of a fun growing community.  Classes are for students of all ages and all levels.