Can someone summarise yoga types?

I'm looking for a yoga class nearby and I'm seeing all different style names pop up.

Can someone give a non hippie summary of the different types?

Basically I just want yoga for flexibility and breathing...not really interested in the spiritual stuff...or does the spiritual/hippie stuff just come with all of them?

i think Hatha may be up your street then again I'm no yoga-ist.


The amount of spiritualism in a class depends more upon the teacher than the style (in general). Some people run a yoga class like a PT program. Others integrate meditation before, during and after class. I would call the local rec center or yoga studio and ask them.

Meditation is part and parcel of yoga as a discipline. If a studio is not teaching that aspect, I would question their legtimacy. There are many, many, many weekend yoga teacher trainings out there and they are about as useful as the weekend personal trainer certs.

There are good reasons to have a class sit for a few minutes prior to starting--mostly because it will focus you and settle you down.

As far as yoga styles, a few common ones are:

Bikram--ok, but often taught by people who have never done anything else and don't know anything about yoga other than what Bikram teaches. Persoanlly I hate it and it makes my back hurt.

Hatha--probably the most common form of yoga in the states. Certainly has been around the longest.

Power Yoga--- While Bikram is a brand name and a style of yoga, "Power Yoga" can refer to many different styles. Most of these schools will often teach Ashtanga yoga, which is a more vigorous practice than Hatha. Most Ashtanga places I've been to incorporate vinyasa (flow) at least to some degree. Some, like Baron Baptiste's schools, combine Ashtanga poses, flowing between poses, and practice in a very hot room.

I think this is the best style for athletes, particularly for grapplers. It is also a hell of a workout.

Kripalu yoga--a vinyasa practice, much gentler than Baptistes, but also largely based in Ashtanga. I go to the Kripalu Center in Lenox MA 2-3 times a year for at least a few days at a time.

PS--these are only the styles I've done---there are many others. One to avoid at ALL COST is Dahn Yoga--I suspect they are run by the same people who run the Chung Moo Do/Chung Mu Kwan cult-style TMA schools. Their practice is an amalgamation of chi gung, yoga, and some shit they seem to have made up on their own.

I do Ashtanga yoga aka power yoga out of a book to improve my flexibility. I've never been to a class, but the books I've seen on it emphasize the physical and downplay the spiritual. That might be a place to start.

No offense, but a book is no substitute for quality instruction. It's like learning BJJ from a book.

Well, not completely--BJJ is obivously more complex than yoga--but think of all the little things you'd miss on an armbar setup by learning from a book. Same thing with a yoga pose. The transitions and little things like correct body positioning make a huge difference in how effective your yoga practice will be.

If you insist on learning on your own, Ana Forrest has some excellent istructional DVDs, and Beryl Bender Berch has what is probably the best book on Power Yoga...titled...uh...Power Yoga.

Most of the styles of yoga that you see around are actually forms of Hatha yoga - Ashtanga Vinyasana, Bikram, Iyengar etc.

There's a mix up in terms as they're widely used. Hatha yoga is actually a generic term. Yoga based on the text, "Hatha Yoga Pridipika", would be Hatha yoga. It's a compilation of earlier texts and it describes all the main practices that you'd see these days. Yoga schools use other terminology such as Ashtanga or whatever but they're still Hatha.

All forms of Hatha yoga do the poses.

Yoga is actually a form of meditation/philosophy but people in the West aren't that interested in those aspects. Most schools just do the poses and breathing.

Some good feedback - thanks for the info guys.

I found a gym near me that does Hatha and Ashtanga in seperate classes so I'll have a dabble with both of them. They've also got a another class which is just called yoga so not sure if that'll be different still.

I'm sure the spiritual/philisophical side of yoga has lots to offer but thats not what a I want at the moment. I know thats probably a western thing like you say ^^ but I don't feel the need for any kind of enlightenment at the moment. I just know my training schedule is lacking a lot of flexibility and stability exercises.

Would doing a yoga class after a weight training session be a bad idea?

Thanks for the correction on the use of the term Hatha, ed2002. I always assumed hatha was a specific style, although maybe it's just promoted as such by some schools?

theramblingman--totally cool. I don't think I do yoga for enlightenment either. The idea behind yoga is to coordinate the breathe and body and be present to what's going on internally while in the pose or transition.

Being present and persevering through discomfort while maintaining a steady, relaxed, breathing pattern obviously has some pretty good applications to grappling. When you combine it with increased flexibility it really, really helps. I find my guard game is much better in particular when I'm consistenly practicing.

And GV is right, you do not have to do much. MOst days I simply go trhough the Sun Salutation for about 20-30 min. Even that is enough to help loosen up my back and hips significantly.

As far as doing yoga after lifitng, it depends on your lifting and the type of yoga. If it's a heated room and a vigrous vinyasa practice, lift on another day. If it's a gentler static practice, being warm from lifting might not be a bad idea.

"I know thats probably a western thing like you say ^^ but I don't feel the need for any kind of enlightenment at the moment."

Don't worry, most yoga schools don't go into enlightenment that deeply.

"I always assumed hatha was a specific style, although maybe it's just promoted as such by some schools?"

Yeah basically. It's like PT Certification. You can't use certain names unless you're "certified" so you use Hatha or Power or some generic.

Ashtanga is like a trademarked name.
The term Ashtanga actually refers to an earlier text Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. It's means the 8 limbs of Yoga - like the Yoga 10 commandments.

Ashtanga Vinyasana yoga is usually different flowing series of poses. Pattabhi Jois was the founder of the style. His teacher, Krishnamacharya, was like the father of modern yoga and all the styles you see now.