Yoga the list of styles, goes on and on and on…

Un-befuddling some terminology around yoga styles and paths

Frankly sorting out all the different yoga styles can be confusing, especially since there are a lot of styles that range from an instructor creating their own style and accompanying term, to a simple noun descriptor — Ashtanga, Bikram, Family, Pre-natal, Dog yoga, Iyengar, Vinyasa yoga, Yin, Kriya, Kundalini, etc. The list is long. Sometimes the style is based on a particular instructor (Iyengar, Bikram) or on a sequence of poses (Ashtanga, Vinyasa) or practising yoga with our babies or even our pets (baby and me yoga or dog yoga.) Whatever the style that makes them unique in their own way, the focus on the physical means they all are an evolution or extension of Hatha yoga. Personally, I found this confusing initially.

Yoga practice with lamb, Source: Reddit

Hatha at its core means a practice that works toward balance — the goal to transcend duality. Sounds good but what does that mean? For instance, yin and yang are a great example of duality but together they represent harmony and balance. Like the sun and moon on the surface, apart they denote separation, opposites and duality. They have there own paths and own cycles, yet together they create a full cycle of a day in union and balance in nature. The practice of yoga is all about harmony. Hatha is also said to be a beginner friendly yoga or introductory practice, yet not easy. Maybe people say that to make it more approachable? Maybe that is why some studios label their beginner classes as Hatha? Like many other disciplines, it can take a lifetime to master.

Hatha Yoga Styles, Source: Conscious Life Space Lic. CC 4.0 Int’l Attribution

Hatha yoga with its primary focus on the physical is one of 6 types or paths of yoga, which are commonly referred to as the branches of yoga. The others are raja (meditation), karma (service), bhakti (devotion), jnana (intellect), and tantra (ritual and it isn’t all about sex) or sometimes kriya is listed in place of tantra yoga. They are the other types of yoga. You don’t need to practice one main branch, they all can overlap and often do.

Although hatha yoga is associated with a focus on the physical, it does not exclude the mental. The simple definition –

Hatha — where your physical and mental bodies unite through movement, breath and postures (asanas.)
6 Yogic Paths or Branches, Source: Conscious Life Space Lic. CC 4.0 Int’l Attribution

So in the end, if you find yourself confused by the extremely long list of styles of yoga that we see and hear about, remember that at your physical yoga practice’s foundation, you are practising Hatha yoga.

The greatest benefit to me is just doing it. The breath, the movement, the struggle or the progression — if it is difficult or easy on a particular day it doesn’t matter — I always feel better knowing that I did it.

Hope you found this post useful. Even though I practised yoga many years ago and even had a boutique that sold yoga & meditation supplies back in the day, it wasn’t until December 2015, after a 10 year break, that I began again. I’m learning and want to share what I learn with whomever else wants to learn. Let me know if you want to learn with me or you have something to teach in the comments.

Or if you want to learn more as we go, join me in a new Facebook group here or follow the Conscious Life Space page here.

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About The Author

My name is Amy Adams, no, not the actress :-) I write about art, dogs, life and yoga. Trained as a fine artist (MFA), I am also an avid fan of the fur creatures we call dogs, a balcony gardener and self-proclaimed yoga goddess — because one of the things that yoga reminded me of is that ‘I am not this body.’ You can also read more of my articles on Medium here. Find me on on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram or visit my art website.

You can also connect with me on Conscious Life Space, a blog that I created to share my own personal experiences and information, as well as other contributors’ insights and articles to help people live a conscious life.

The jpeg images in this post are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0), you are free to use them even commercially. Any questions contact us.

You can download the list of YOGA Styles here, or the branches of Yoga here and be sure to link back to PCs right click to download, Macs ctrl+click for menu of options to save

Originally published at on October 27, 2017.