Different Schools of Yoga

by Melissa West on July 23, 2013

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Is there a yoga school for me?

Different-Schools-of-YogaToday’s question comes from YouTube and this viewer requested a video asking us to explain the different styles and schools of yoga practices. So I can imagine I might only be able to touch the tip of the iceberg here but perhaps I will cover a few of the major ones and then I will ask you to include the schools and styles you have studied in the comments.

I will begin with the schools and styles where I did my training and studying. I began with Esther Myers Yoga. This is a school of yoga that emphasizes the breath, grounding and spinal elongation. It is through these three principles that alignment comes into the body and students are able to access yoga postures. This style was created by Vanda Scaravelli as a departure from Iyengar’s style of yoga.

From there I went and did my certification with Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy. This style of yoga combines yoga and psychology. Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy Yoga Classes are based on Michael Lee’s book Turn Stress into Bliss and guides you through a series of themes from awareness, acceptance, and truth, to truth in action, choice and flow to help you deal with stress in your life. Students are encouraged to find their own expression of postures in their body and create action steps to make small manageable changes in their life.

The rest of the schools of yoga I want to give credit that I drew from my friend (Karoline Neville-Hamilton) and colleague’s poster, theyogaposter.com which is a great poster that lays out all the schools of yoga and lineages in a beautiful visual poster.

So there is Kundalini yoga which rises out of the Sikh culture. This tradition uses kriyas, or series of yoga postures, breath practices and mantras to help move the kundalini energy up from the base of the spine.

Vinyasa yoga was started by Krishnamacharya and combines coordinating movement between yoga postures with breath. A.G. Mohan combined Raja yoga (the royal path) and Ayurveda and his school is known as Svastha Yoga. Asthanga Yoga was started by Pattabhi Jois and it is best known for its surya namaskar A and B which Lisa Kerr recently came and filmed for our members.

Bikram Yoga is based on a series of 26 postures taught in a heated room. Kripaulu yoga was started in a monastic setting in Massachesetts is now a style or school of hatha yoga that teaches the basic mechanics of yoga postures and introduces the concepts of breathwork. Yin Yoga originated by Paul Griley focuses on long holds to release connective tissue.

Lilias Yoga which was televised by Lilias Folan from 1972 to 1999 was the old-school way of bringing yoga to the public.

Sivinanda Yoga was created by Swami Sivinanda and is based on 5 principles and 12 basic postures. Integral Yoga is based on the teachings of Swami Satchidananda and combines hatha, bhakti, raja, karma jnana, kriya, and tantra yoga.

Some of the more modern schools and styles include Judith Hanson Lasater who began restorative yoga. David Life and Sharon Ganon who began Jivamukti Yoga a vigorous and challenging style that includes yoga philosophy. Shiva Rea and her prana yoga flow which includes yoga inspired dance. Baron Baptiste’s Power Yoga. There are just so many forms of yoga! The great thing about yoga is that there is something for everybody. No one form is better than the other, there is just the best one for you at your stage of life. Tell me about the styles you have practiced and studied in the comments below.


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