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Yoga Style Guide (including activities related to yoga):
agni | agni vinyasa | amrit | anahata | ananda | antigravity | anusara | anuyoga | ashta-anga | ashtanga | atiyoga | bhakti | bihar | bikram | bks iyengar | chakra | classical | dahn | dance | dhyana | dru | flow | forrest | gentle | gita | gurukala | gyana | hasya | hatha | hot | integral | ISHTA | iyengar | japa | jivamukti | jnana | kalari | kalarippayat | kali ray triyoga | karma | kripalu | kriya | kunda | kundalini | laughter | laya | loknath | maha | mahayoga | mantra | mysore ashtanga | nada | natya | nia | nidra | oki-do | om meditation | OM | pancadasha-anga | parayoga | patanjali ashtanga | power | prana flow | pranava | prenatal | purna | raja | rajadhiraja | red tantra | restorative | samatva | sampoorna | sapta | sapta-anga | saraswati | satyananda | scaravelli | shad-anga | shanti | shiva | siddha | siddha maha | sivananda | soham classic | somatic | somayog | subtle | supramental | svaroopa | svastha | tantra | transcendental meditation | triyoga | vedic | viniyoga | vinyasa flow | vinyasa krama | vipassana meditation | vishwa | white tantra | yantra | yanumoja | yin | yoga for your nose | zen | zen meditation
A quick intro on yoga styles:
It has recently become popular among yoga studios to trademark their teachings as new yoga styles. New styles seem to be appearing every month! Typically, these new yoga styles are variations of 'Hatha Yoga', the yoga known for its series of asanas (poses, stretches and postures). The difference between these Hatha-inspired styles often lies in how they combine (or don't combine) elements of asana movement, alignment, intensity, breathing, pranayama (breath control), meditation, relaxation, chanting, lifestyle, etc.
Both traditional (hatha, bhakti, jnana, karma, kriya, tantra, ...) and modern yoga styles are included in this glossary. Additionally, a few practices which are not yoga-yoga (but similar to yoga) have been included for clarification purposes, such as body-mind-fitness programs that often borrow elements from Hatha Yoga. Although it is the author's belief that any yoga style practiced for non-spiritual reasons is just Not Yoga, the author in no way wishes to de-value the benefits of practicing yoga exercises for other terrific reasons: rehabilitation, fitness, fun, etc!
Please note: All style definitions listed here are unofficial definitions unless clearly stated otherwise. This glossary (with its share of unintended mistakes and inaccuracies) is intended only as quick-reference for navigating today's abundance of yoga styles. For more information on any particular yoga style, please contact the founding yoga school or instructor for the most accurate information.
We believe that this Yoga Style Glossary is one of the largest of its kind on the net - but we're still far from done! If you'd like to suggest any improvements or styles for inclusion, please write:
Thank you to all yogis that have written thus far, suggesting new yoga styles and corrections!
yoga: Yoga means to yoke (unite) with the source of our Being (which is pure Awareness, God).
Agni Yoga, brought to the West by Nicholas and Helena Roerich, is a philosophy teaching that the evolution of our planetary consciousness is necessary and attainable. Agni (which means 'fire' in Sanskrit) focuses on the fiery energy of creation, consciousness, directed thought, Space, and the Heart.
Agni Yoga is not systemized, nor is it a rigid yoga practice; it is meant as a practice for daily life. Agni yoga can be accessed through a series of 17 books published by the Agni Yoga Society.
Agni Yoga Society's site: Agni Yoga Society
Based out of: New York, USA
Agni Vinyasa Yoga, taught by Spyros Kapnias ("Garudananda"), is a soft yet vigorous style of Ashtanga Vinyasa Hatha Yoga focused on purifying the body, opening the heart center, and enhancing one's concentration. Agni Vinyasa Yoga is also closely related to Iyengar Yoga, specifically in its emphasis on good form and alignment during asana practice.
Asanas are performed in a quick series (shorter than most other Ashtanga Vinyasa asana series) and at a rapid pace. Emphasis is also placed on proper breathing. To increase endurance, specific asanas are sometimes held for a longer time. Music, bandhas (locks), and relaxation exercises are also important elements in Agni Vinyasa classes.
Garudananda is based out of: Greece
Since Agni means Fire, Agni Vinyasa Yoga is also used to describe:
1. Vinyasa yoga classes inspired by the Fire element; and
2. the Vinyasa-based 'Fire Series' developed by Raji Thron, Yoga Synthesis.
Raji Thron's official site: Yoga Synthesis
Based out of: New Jersey, USA
See also: "Ashtanga / Ashtanga Vinyasa", "Vinyasa / Vinyasa Flow" and "Iyengar"
Amrit Yoga, described as 'meditation in motion', is a deeply meditative style of Hatha Yoga founded by Yogi Amrit Desai ("Gurudev Shri Amritji") based on the teachings of his Guru, Swami Kripalvananda ("Swami Kripalu", "Bapuji"). Amrit Yoga combines the physical practices of Hatha yoga (asanas and pranayama) with the mental and spiritual practices of Raja yoga.
Asanas are always practiced gently and the proper use of breath is considered important. A unique feature of Amrit Yoga is that each asana has two equally important parts: the active 'Pose' and the restful 'Repose'.
Official site: Amrit Yoga Institute
Based out of: Florida, USA
Yogi Amrit Desai is also the founder of 'Kripalu Yoga'. See also: "Kripalu"
Anahata Yoga, developed by Ana Costa, is a style of Hatha Yoga focused on opening the heart center (anahata).
Asanas are practiced in a relaxed and flowing manner, accompanied by short periods of meditation. Emphasis is also placed on proper breathing.
Official site: Anahata Yoga Studio
Based out of: California, USA
Ananda Yoga is a worldwide movement based on the Kriya Yoga teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda and founded by Swami Kriyananda. Meditation and spiritual living are important elements in Ananda Yoga practice.
A unique feature of Ananda Yoga is the use of asana affirmations. Asanas are never practiced in a rush or with strain, and the time spent in pause between asanas is considered important.
Official site: Ananda Church of Self-Realization
Based out of: California, USA
See also: "Kriya"; Related page: Kriya Yoga
AntiGravity (trademark) Yoga is an aerial art and fitness program created by Christopher Harrison and his acrobatic performance team 'AntiGravity' to improve health and agility while having fun and creating beauty.
A unique feature of AntiGravity Yoga is that it is practiced in the air using the AntiGravity Hammock. The Hammock is particularly useful in helping students hold poses longer and in correct alignment, safely practice advanced inverted poses, and for building core and upper-body strength. AntiGravity Yoga draws it's repertoire of poses and movements from aerial acrobatics, dance, pilates, calisthenics and Hatha yoga.
Official site: AntiGravity Yoga
Based out of: New York, USA
Anusara Yoga (trademark) is a Vinyasa Hatha Yoga system with a tantric philosophy of intrinsic goodness, founded by John Friend in 1997.
While encompassing all of the common classical Hatha yoga asanas, poses are frequently modified for varying bodies and abilities. Additionally, students are encouraged to practice variations as a means of expressing their human spirits.
Official site: Anusara Yoga
Based out of: Texas, USA
See also: "Vinyasa / Vinyasa Flow" and "Tantra"
Anuyoga or 'Anuyoga-pana' is the second inner tantra (spiritual path, pana) in Tibetan Buddhism. Known as a stage of 'completion' and 'perfection', it uses internal visualizations to prepare for Enlightenment (Union with God). Anuyoga also emphasizes knowledge and is concerned with removing the obstacle of passion.
Anuyoga is preceded by Mahayoga (the first inner tantra) and succeeded by Atiyoga (the final inner tantra).
See also: "Mahayoga, Buddhist" and "Atiyoga, Buddhist"
Ashta-anga / Ashtanga / Classical
Ashta-anga Yoga is the Eight-Fold Path of Yoga taught by Patanjali and the 'Yoga Sutra'. On this path, Hatha Yoga is used to prepare for the higher spiritual practices of Raja Yoga.
The Eight-Fold Path / The Eight Limbs:
1. Yama (moral observance)
2. Niyama (self-restraint)
3. Asana (posture)
4. Pranayama (breath control)
5. Pratyahara (sensory inhibition)
6. Dharana (concentration)
7. Dhyana (meditation)
8. Samadhi (Union with God, ecstasy, nirvana).
Ashta-anga Yoga is also known as: 'Ashtanga Yoga', 'Astaunga Yoga', 'Classical Yoga', 'Patanjali Ashtanga', and 'Raja Yoga'
Ashtanga / Ashtanga Vinyasa / Ashtanga Vinyasa Flow / Mysore Ashtanga
Ashtanga Yoga is an ancient system of Hatha Yoga, first recorded in the manuscript 'Yoga Korunta'. For generations Ashtanga Yoga has been passed down from one teacher to the next, and since 1948 is being taught by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois at his school in Mysore, India.
In Ashtanga Yoga, there is one breath for each movement. Movements are meant to flow together so as to heat the body and produce a detoxifying sweat. This inner heat is also intended to burn away the six poisons (desire, anger, delusion, greed, envy, sloth) that surround the spiritual heart.
To avoid confusion with Ashta-anga (the Eight-Fold Path), the preferred names for the yoga of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois are 'Ashtanga Vinyasa' or 'Ashtanga Vinyasa Flow'. Another commonly used name is 'Mysore Ashtanga'
Official site: Sri K. Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute
Based out of: Mysore, India
See also: "Vinyasa / Vinyasa Flow" and "Hatha"
Atiyoga is the third and final inner tantra (spiritual path, pana) in Tibetan Buddhism. Also known as the 'Great Perfection' and 'Dzogchen', Atiyoga is the highest path to Enlightenment (Union with God).
Atiyoga is preceded by the two other inner tantras of Mahayoga and Anuyoga.
See also: "Mahayoga, Buddhist" and "Anuyoga, Buddhist"
Bhakti Yoga is the yoga of Love and Devotion, and is one of the most direct paths to Union with God (Samadhi). Bhakti Yoga is also a very important element of Hinduism. It is practiced by giving one's full devotion to God. God is Love and Love is God, and a Bhakta (Bhakti devotee) wants nothing else than to love and be re-united with God. Bhakti Yoga is pure and unselfish.
According to Sri Ramanuja, there are eleven methods to realize God through love:
Abhyasa (continuous thinking of God);
Viveka (discrimination between the real (permanent) and the unreal (temporary));
Vimoka (longing for God and freedom from all else);
Kriya (serving others);
Kalyana (wishing good to all);
Dana (charity); and
Anavasada (cheerfulness and optimism).
Related page: Bhakti Yoga
Bihar Yoga (registered mark) is 'Satyananda Yoga', and is the name of the school which teaches Satyananda Yoga.
Please see: "Satyananda"
Bikram / Hot
Bikram Yoga (trademark) is a vigorous style of Vinyasa Hatha Yoga created by Yogiraj Bikram Choudhury.
A unique feature of Bikram Yoga is that it is practiced indoors to a high level of heat (~40°C) and humidity (~40%), mimicking conditions in India. Classes follow a very specific sequence, always opening with a breathing exercise (pranayama), followed by a series of 24 traditional asanas, and ending with another breathing exercise. Because it is practiced in a heated room, this style is sometimes referred to as 'Hot Yoga'.
Official site: Bikram's Yoga College of India
Based out of: California, USA
See also: "Vinyasa / Vinyasa Flow"
BKS Iyengar Yoga is more simply known as 'Iyengar Yoga'. Please see: "Iyengar"
Chakra Yoga combines aspects of many yoga practices (Hatha yoga, Meditation, Mantras, Pranayama) for the purpose of activating the chakras (energy centers located along the spine).
Chakra Yoga can also be thought of as a type of Kundalini Yoga.
Classical Yoga is Asta-anga Yoga. It is also called 'Ashtanga', 'Astaunga', 'Patanjali Ashtanga' and 'Raja'.
Please see: "Ashta-anga / Ashtanga / Classical"
Dahn / Dahn Hak
Dahn Yoga, developed by Ilchi Lee, is based on Chi (life energy) and ancient Korean practices for developing a healthy body and mind. Releasing the brain's unlimited potential is a major focus, and numerous exercises are being tried and developed towards this end.
Dahn Yoga is a unique system, unrelated to the well-known yoga systems of India, but with the same goals.
Official sites: Dahn Yoga , Ilchi Lee
Based out of: South Korea and Arizona, USA
There are two types of Dance Yoga:
1. Natya Yoga;
2. Artistic dance incorporating the gymnastic aspects of the asanas, which is not Yoga at all.
Please see: "Natya / Dance"
Dhyana Yoga is the yoga of meditation. In Dhyana Yoga, the yogi compresses the senses into a tight ball, sits firmly, and focuses the mind on a single point. If the mind starts to roam, it must be forced back to the point of meditation.
Dhyana Yoga is the seventh limb of the Eight-Fold Path, a high form of meditation leading directly to Samadhi (Union with God, ecstasy, nirvana).
For more on the Eight-Fold Path, please see: "Ashta-anga / Ashtanga / Classical"
Dru Yoga, brought to the West by Mansukh Patel, John Jones, Rita Goswami, Annie Jones and Chris Barrington, is a style of Hatha Yoga focused on channelling the body's energy through the heart. Stillness, directed breathing and visualization are important elements in Dru Yoga practice.
Asanas are practiced in a slow flowing and therapeutic manner. Emphasis is placed on poses for the spine, and during movement it is important that joints remain relaxed. A unique feature of Dru Yoga is its use of Energy Block Release sequences to relieve physical, mental, and emotional tensions and release energy blockages.
Official site: Dru World Wide
Based out of: UK
Flow Yoga is Vinyasa Yoga. Please see: "Vinyasa / Vinyasa Flow"
Forrest Yoga (trademark), developed by Ana Forrest, is a style of Hatha Yoga focused on developing strength, awakening the senses, and becoming connected with one's deep core.
Asanas are practiced in vigorous sequences, and poses are often held for prolonged periods of time to encourage sweating. Deep and proper breathing is an important part of asana practice.
Official site: Forrest Yoga
Based out of: California, USA
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Web page content Copyright © 2008-2013 Zentrum Publishing
Disclaimer: All style definitions listed in this glossary are unofficial unless clearly stated otherwise. Although this glossary of Yoga Styles connects to several specific yoga schools and yoga instructors, Zentrum Publishing does not endorse any particular yoga school or yoga instructor.
This glossary (with its share of unintended mistakes and inaccuracies) is meant only as quick-reference for making some sense of the tremendous abundance of yoga styles available today.
Although it is the author's belief that any yoga style practiced for non-spiritual reasons is just Not Yoga, the author doesn't wish to diminish the value of any yoga style developed or practiced for other terrific reasons: rehabilitation, health, fitness, fun, etc.