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Yoga Lineages & Styles

Introduction

We have tracked down more than 60 styles of yoga!

Many modern styles of yoga can be categorized broadly as having a foundation in Enlightenment & Spirituality, Alignment, Vinyasa, or Therapy. Many are blends of the earliest lineages and some represent a chosen sequence or style of an individual teacher.

Even with so many different types, it’s common to find teachers who meld insights from multiple schools of thought. And classes within one style can vary dramatically between styles.

I don’t think there’s a formula for which [yoga] style will speak to a practitioner any more than there is a formula for who will fall in love. Match.com can put you in touch with people who share your interests, but you have to date to see if there’s chemistry. – Brian Leaf, Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi 2012 p 37

An Ayurvedic Perspective

When they are approached with discrimination and guided by committed teachers, [all of the styles of Hatha yoga] have wonderful health benefits to offer students. – Mukunda Stiles, Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy 2007 p 84

However, Stiles also notes the effects of different styes from an Ayurvedic perspective:

Kripalu Yoga, Integral Yoga and Sivananda Yoga

  • Stiles points out that the use of rhythmic breathing, pranayama and mindfulness during asana practice prepares the student for deeper practices of meditation, making the “body supple and the mind alert.”
  • Such practices, he advises, are ideal for a Vata-predominant constitution.

Power Yoga, Asthanga Yoga, Bikram Yoga

  • Fast-paced and vigorous practices that “promote sweating as a form of purification… develop lustrous skin tone, tremendous vitality, and a passion for life.”
  • Stiles notes that such practice “would not be recommended for a Pitta-predominant student lacking discrimination in following their own guidance” but that for a “balanced Pitta, this style will promote insight by keeping them engaged in the art of balancing and directing their fiery nature.”

Iyengar Yoga

  • Stiles highlights the focus on physical alignment, of course, as well as “the development of mental and physical strength and stamina,” noting that “faith and perseverance are developed” with this method.”
  • Stiles recommends this type or practice for a Kapha-predominant constitution.

Considerations

Greater than One Path

Yoga is greater than one path—many waves, one ocean. – Cora Wen, Yoga Journal, article

The Word, “Tradition”

Have people been practicing the techniques of Iyengar, Jois, Desai, Krishnamacharya/Desikachar-in-Chennai for long enough to merit the status of “tradition”? Is forty years enough? I doubt it… So how do we get more accurate in our language? How do we make sure that the word “tradition” is not merely a way of bolstering a fragile sense of internal authority, or a marketplace validation device? Maybe use the word “version?” Iyengar’s version of yoga, Jois’ version of yoga, Desai’s version of yoga. Each with their antecedents that may or may not pass whatever test “tradition” demands… more than 40 years and a couple of photographs on the wall. – Matthew Remski

Labeling Things

It’s just different labels. We in the West have an issue with labeling things—saying this is that and not that, creating frames and boundaries to feel safe, to strengthen our identity, and to be part of a special group. The root of this is actually very beautiful: wanting to unite, which is what yoga is all about. But instead of uniting, this labeling only creates separation. – Johanna Andersson, Yoga Journal, article

About the Styles

Accessible Yoga

  • Founded by Jivana Heyman
  • An international grassroots organization dedicated to sharing yoga with everyone
  • Accessible Yoga

AcroYoga

  • Blends yoga, Thai massage and acrobatics to cultivate trust, connection and playfulness
  • AcroYoga

Aerial Yoga

  • Executing poses while suspended from a cloth hammock

Alive and Shine (previously Purna)

  • Founded by Aadil & Mirra Palkhivala
  • Alignment-focused with heart-centered meditations
  • Alive and Shine Center

Ananda

  • In the tradition of Paramhansa Yogananda
  • Classical yoga including asana, pranayama, meditation and applied yoga philosophy
  • Ananda Yoga

Anusara

  • While Anusara Yoga was originally founded by John Friend, the Anusara School of Hatha Yoga was formed in 2012 by an international group of Anusara yoga teachers
  • Unifies alignment-based asana with Tantric principles
  • Anusara School of Hatha Yoga

Ashtanga

Baptiste Power Vinyasa

Beer Yoga

  • Founded by Emily and Jhula in Berlin, Germany
  • “Beer Yoga is fun but it’s no joke – we take the philosophies of yoga and pair it with the pleasure of beer-drinking to reach your highest level of consciousness”
  • Beer Yoga

Bikram

Body Positive Yoga

  • Founded by Amber Karnes
  • For ”humans who want to make peace with their bodies and build unshakable confidence.”
  • Body Positive Yoga

Circus Yoga

  • Founded by Erin Maile O’Keefe & Kevin O’Keefe
  • Blends yoga consciousness with the celebration of a circus to foster connection, communication and play through partner yoga, acrobatics, games, comedy, creative movement, dance, Thai massage and more
  • Circus Yoga

Core Fusion Yoga

  • “A blend of barre class and athletic yoga. Work your arms and abs with traditional Sun Salutations then tone your glutes and thighs with isometric leg lifts.” (Yoga Journal, 7 Yoga Hybrids You Gotta Try)

Forrest

  • Founded by Ana Forrest
  • Physically challenging practice with focus on emotional exploration
  • Forrest Yoga

Fitness Fusion

  • General description without correlation to a founder or lineage
  • Often describes a combination of fitness activities; when including yoga asana, it might be combined with  Pilates, strength training, disco music or any other activity

Hatha

  • Hatha generally refers to the physical aspects of yoga practice and nearly every American style of yoga is a form of Hatha yoga
  • Today, studios or teachers that describe their classes as Hatha are usually offering a blend of the other styles listed here. More often than not, it will indicate a class with more held poses than vinyasa but the only way to know for sure is to ask for more information.

Hidden Language Hatha Yoga

Hot

  • General description without correlation to a founder or lineage although sometimes based on Bikram, Baptiste Power or Ashtanga sequencing
  • Heated studio, intense physical practice

Hridaya

  • Founded bu Sahajananda
  • “Hridaya Yoga philosophy is based on traditional spiritual principles and visions from classical yoga. These visions include Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, Advaita Vedanta, Tantra, and Kashmiri Shaivism. The teachings are further aligned with aspects of Sufism, Christianity, Buddhism, and Taoism.”
  • Hridaya Yoga

Insight

  • Founded by Sarah Powers
  • Practice combining yin & yang yoga, Buddhism and psychology
  • Insight Yoga

Integral

Integrative Yoga Therapy

  • Founded by Joseph Le Page
  • Brings yoga into mainstream wellness programs
  • Adapts gentle postures, guided imagery, and breathing techniques for treating specific health issues such as heart disease, psychiatric disorders, and AIDS
  • Integrative Yoga Therapy

ISKCON / Hare Krishna Movement

  • The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), also known as the Hare Krishna movement, is a form of devotional Bhakti Yoga founded by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in New York city in 1966
  • Philosophy based on the Bhagavad Gita and the Bhagavat Purana or Srimad Bhagavatm
  • Bhakti Yoga practices, particularly the maha mantra: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare / Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare
  • ISKCON

ISHTA

  • Based on Alan Finger’s teachings
  • ISHTA stands for Integrated Science of Hatha, Tantra, and Ayurveda
  • Combines alignment, vinyasa, meditation, pranayama and kriyas to create energetic effects
  • Ishta Yoga

Iyengar

Jivamukti

  • Founded by Sharron Gannon & David Life
  • Includes physically challenging asana, Sanskrit chanting, yoga philosophy teachings, music, breathing practices and meditation
  • Jivamukti Yoga School

Katonah

  • By synthesizing classical Taoist Chinese theory, traditional Hatha yoga postures and meditation, it provides a clear yet powerful understanding of the mechanics of the body while encouraging increased awareness of the self.
  • Katonah Yoga

Kripalu

Krishnamacharya

  • Quite a number of styles, including Iyengar and Viniyoga as well as the teachings of A.G. Mohan and others derive from T. Krishnamacharya’s lineage. in addition, his son, T.K.V. Desikachar has carried forth teachings from his father.
  • Teachings derive from the fundamental principle that yoga must always be adapted to an individual’s changing needs in order to derive the maximum therapeutic benefit
  • Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram
  • Krishnamacharya Healing & Yoga Foundation

Kriya Yoga

This lineage traces back to the immortal Mahavatar Babaji Maharaj who gifted Kriya Yoga to Shri Lahiri Mahasaya. The teachings then branched out into these organizations.

  • Kriya Yoga International – In addition to the two original gurus, the Kriya Yoga International lineage recognizes Swami Shriyukteshwar Giri, Shrimat Bhupendranath Sanyal Mahasaya, Paramahamsa Yogananda, Swami Satyananda Giri, Paramahamsa Hariharananda and Paramahamsa Prajnanananda.
  • Self-Realization Fellowship – Shri Lahiri Mahasaya’s student, Swami Sri Yukteswar was master to Paramahansa Yogananda who founded the Self-Realization Fellowship. After his passing, the organization was led by Rajarsi Janakananda followed by Sri Daya Mata.
  • KriyaU – This lineage is Paramahansa Yogananda to Sri Shelliji to Goswami Kriyananda.
  • Kriya Yoga Lahiri – From Shri Lahiri Mahasaya, this lineage has been passed from father to son, currently held by his great grandson, Shibendu Lahiri (born 1939).
  • Babaji’s Kriya Yoga – Babaji’s Kriya Yoga lineage recognizes Babaji as initiating S.A.S. Ramaiah and M. Govindan, the current head of the organization.

Kula Collective

  • Founded by a group of friends and colleagues in a small, highland village of Guatemala
  • Together, we ignite spiritual growth, weaving holistic experiences from diverse traditions to inspire purpose and awaken passion.
  • The Kula Collective

Kundalini

Laughter Yoga

  • “Includes hearty laughter, greeting laughter, open-mouthed silent laughter, humming laughter, lion laughter (an adaptation of Lion Pose), and swinging laughter, with arm movement. Each laughter is sustained for up to 45 seconds, and followed with deep breathing and stretching exercises.” (YogaJournal, What’s So Funny)
  • Laughter Yoga International

LEVITYoga

  • Founded by Peter Sterios
  • “Simply, LEVITYoga™ is a way to relate to the practice of yoga where we avoid taking ourselves too seriously… For those who teach LEVITYoga™, our goal is to create simple language for communicating general principles so those who practice and study can connect with themselves in an authentic way – not from a place imposed by a rigid technique, script, or series of movements, but through a re-discovery of our own intuition.”
  • LEVITYoga

Lotus Flow

  • Founded by Jasmine Tarkeshi and Dana Flynn
  • “Lotus Flow is a signature style of Vinyasa yoga taught and practiced at the Laughing Lotus Yoga Center. The style consists of a specific, creative sequence of poses… Attention is placed on alignment and on the flow of breath… Classes are set to music and are finished off with Meditation and relaxation.”
  • Laughing Lotus Yoga Center

Love Your Brain Yoga

  • Founded by Kevin Pearce and Adam Pearce
  • “Every 13 seconds someone sustains a traumatic brain injury.We’re on a mission to improve the lives of those affected.”
  • LoveYourBrain

Naam Yoga

  • Founded by Dr. Joseph Michael Levry
  • “The word Naam refers to mathematically structured sound current present in sacred mantra and prayer from an extensive range of mystical backgrounds and traditions. As a yogic science, Naam Yoga combines healing sound current with powerful and distinctive breath work, dynamic physical movement and mudras (hand seals) that beneficially impact the body’s energetic meridian system.”
  • Naam Yoga

OM

  • Founded by Cyndi Lee
  • Combines vinyasa, alignment and Tibetan Buddhism teachings
  • Om Yoga

Para

  • Founded by Rod Stryker
  • Challenging asana combined with Tantric teachings including philosophy, pranayama, meditation, mudra and bandha
  • Para Yoga

Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy

  • Founded by Michael Lee
  • Combines classical yoga and body-mind psychology to release physical tensions and emotional blocks
  • Uses assisted yoga postures, guided breathing, and nondirective dialogue
  •  Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy Training

Power

  • General description without correlation to a founder or lineage although often has roots in Ashtanga and may be more particularly based on Beryl Bender Birch’s teachings, Bryan Kest yoga, or Baron Baptiste’s sequence
  • Usually features intense, often strength-based asana and often in a heated room
  • The Hard & The Soft Yoga Institute
  • Bryan Kest’s Power Yoga

Prajna

  • Founded by Tias & Surya Little
  • Integrates yoga discipline with contemplative practice and study
  • Prajna Yoga

Prana Flow

  • Founded by Shiva Rea
  • Flowing movements inspired by dance and moving meditation, accompanied by music
  • Shiva Rea

Primal Yoga

  • Founded by Liz Arch
  • Bridges yogic and martial arts practices together to create balance, strength and synergy in physical and emotional bodies
  • Primal Yoga by Liz Arch

Restorative

  • Poses are designed for constructive rest and relaxation, generally supported by props and held for several minutes
  • Some consider establishment of Restorative Yoga to be credited to Geeta Iyengar with additional contributions made by B.K.S. Iyengar, Judith Lasater and Kelly McGonigal
  • Judith Lasater, Kelly McGonigal

Sattva

  • Founded by Anand Mehrotra
  • Includes meditation, breath work, Hatha postures, vinyasa flows, kriyas, mantra, free movement, and wisdom
  • Sattva Yoga

Siddha

  • Spiritual path in the Swami Muktananda lineage; Gurumayi Chidvilasananda is the current Siddha Guru, succeeding Muktananda, who passed in 1982
  • Meditation, chanting and service; known for the Guru’s capacity to awaken spiritual energy (kundalini) in seekers through shaktipat
  • Sometimes refers to kundalini practices but is distinct from Kundalini lineage described above
  • Siddha Yoga Path

Silver Age

  • Seniors have unique health challenges. Therefore, a unique style of yoga based on geriatric science and research was created to meet those challenges. Silver Age Yoga is designed to reach the entire bell curve of the senior population so that all seniors at from beginner to advanced can safely participate at their own level of comfort.
  • Silver Age Yoga

Sivananda

Somatic Yoga

  • Integrating somatics and yoga, often through the teachings of Thomas Hanna and Eleanor Criswell Hanna
  • Somatic Yoga

SUP Yoga

  • “The beginner-friendly sport of standup paddleboarding was born in the 1940s when Waikiki surfers stood on boards and navigated their way through the waves with a long paddle. Standup paddleboard yoga (or SUP yoga, as it’s known to its devotees) is asana practiced on 10- to 12-foot-long boards in the most serene of settings: an ocean bay, a glassy lake, even a slow-moving river.” (Yoga Journal)
  • ACA SUP Yoga Instructor Endorsement

Svaroopa

Tripsichore Yoga

Triyoga

  • Founded by Kali Ray
  • Asana, pranayama, mudra and concentration practices to spur awakening
  • Triyoga

Universal

  • Founded by Andrey Lappa
  • Lappa describes asana practice as stimulating various marma points and as a way to train the physical body, while also “balancing the brain, consciousness, and biofield,” ultimately creating balance for meditation. Lappa is known for developing creative movements to bring this balance to traditional asanas.
  • Universal Yoga

Viniyoga

  • Founded by Gary Kraftsow based on teachings from his teacher, T.K.V. Desikachar
  • Adapts practice to unique conditions and needs of practitioners, includes asana that coordinates movement with breath, pranayama, chanting, meditation, prayer and ritual
  • American Viniyoga Institute
  • There has been a discussion within the Desikachar lineage about the usage of the name viniyoga. This January 2018 post from Leslie Kaminoff addresses some of the associated issues and this post later in the month addresses a further development.

Vinyasa

  •  Ashtanga, Power Yoga, Jivamukti, Kali Ray and White Lotus are all considered Vinyasa styles
  • When a class is called Vinyasa without these associated styles, it generally refers to movement linked with the breath, often through Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations)

White Lotus

  • Founded by Ganga White in 1967, joined by Tracey Rich in 1983
  • Flowing vinyasa ranging from gentle to vigorous, incorporating alignment, breath & theory
  • White Lotus Foundation

Yin

  • Founded by Paulie Zink, popularized by Paul Grilley, Bernie Clark and Sarah Powers.
  • Longer-held postures, typically involves relaxing muscles while compressing joints to target connective tissues and bones
  • Yin Yoga

Yoga Nidra

Yoga Sculpt

Yoga Therapy

  • Typically refers to customized adaptations of yoga tools for the specific needs of individuals, often those with “specific or persistent” issues
  • Some of the teachers responsible for developing yoga therapy as its own discipline include two students of Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya—T.K.V. Desikachar and A.G. Mohan—along with Gary Kraftsow, Richard Miller, Larry Payne and Joseph Le Page among others
  • The International Association of Yoga Therapists

Zenyasa

  • Founded by Jason Ray Brown
  • “A moderately athletic, mindfulness-based style of yoga that includes meditation, a unique approach to posture practice, and rotating 5-element class themes”
  • Jason Ray Brown

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