Over the years yoga has gained popularity and concurred the hearts of many all over the World. If you enter a yoga studio or your local gym, you'll find the most popular yoga classes listed on the daily schedule: Ashtanga, Hot, Power yoga or relaxing Yin.
That being said, are you aware of other styles of yoga that exist? You might not believe it, but there are so many types of yoga that even hearing the names you would question yourself whether it is a "real type of yoga." For example "Goat yoga", "Nude yoga", "Dog yoga". What about "Harry Potter yoga"?
Even though there is a long list of interesting yoga styles that are practiced globally, in this article we will look deeper into 5 types of yoga which are worth reading about and learning about. If it is something that interests you, perhaps you can try one of these styles yourself!
Related article: the most popular styles of yoga
Forrest Yoga is a style of Power Yoga that is known to be physically challenging. Ana Forrest, the creator of this practice, has created an intention around this physical challenge. It is not only to stimulate and move the body, but it is designed to heal. She has combined the traditional forms of Yoga - asana, breath, meditation - with deeper forms of healing to fill a void she feels some forms of yoga miss.
Suggested read: Forrest yoga
Ana Forrest will openly tell you that she experienced physical and emotional injury in her life; part of that deep emotional hurt included addiction. She has created a blend of yoga poses that coincide with the Medicines practiced by the First Peoples of this planet. She uses rituals and ceremonies in her practice to realign with Spirit, just as her ancient ancestors did. She brings this into her classes to share this healing component with her students.
During the physical practice of Forrest Yoga, you will engage in carefully crafted sequences that focus on alignment, awareness of the body and breath, and to your core strength.Ana Forrest has a very specific core strengthening process embedded into her classes that will push you to your edge but is intended for you to explore and discover your inner strength. It is a way to break through walls and barriers that we use to cover our pain and sufferings. In order to heal, we must break down those walls, to dig deep. The physical practice will definitely do that.
She incorporates the spiritual components through music and song. It is not uncommon to hear stories, sing, and play drums in a Forrest Yoga class. She is integrating the many paths of healing: Yoga, music, philosophy, shamanism, and more.
A Forrest Yoga class may not be easy to find, but if you run across a workshop that she is leading, you may want to attend. She is a world-renowned instructor and has toured all over the world. Her workshops and teacher trainings are definitely worth your time, especially if you'd like to deepen your practice and find ways to heal deep-seated trauma and emotional injury.
Another rare style of Yoga that is practiced is called Kundalini Yoga. Developed as early as the 15th century, it is a yoga practice that combines other ancient practices and philosophies of Yoga: Bhakti Yoga, Raja Yoga, and Shakti Yoga. Bhakti Yoga is actually a devotional practice. It does not involve physical yoga postures. Instead, it focuses on singing and chanting. Raja Yoga incorporates the practice of meditation, while Shakti Yoga is about expressing your power.
So, when you attend a Kundalini Yoga class, be prepared to sing, chant, raise your vibration energies with dynamic breath work (pranayama), and practice physical and mental control.
The repetitive pranayama exercises, often accompanied by hand gestures, stimulate your entire system producing an energy and vibration that leaves you tingling at the end of class!
Suggested Rainbow yoga mat for Kundalini yoga practice with the colours of chakras
Awakening the coiled serpent and letting it travel along your spine is a symbol for freeing your mind and consciousness. It's a practice of deep investigation; one that penetrates through barriers or past actions and events, to guide you to a full and open life. Kundalini Yoga is about realizing your highest potential.
Aerial Yoga is exactly what it sounds like; practicing yoga postures in mid-air! How does one do that? Some yoga studios are equipped with long hanging silks or hammocks securely fastened from the ceiling rafters. Guided by a trained instructor, the student can perform many yoga postures similar to ones that you may do on your yoga mat.
It sounds like you would need a lot of talent, grace, and precision to take an aerial yoga class. Quite the contrary; you don't have to be a trapeze artist or aerialist to take a class like this. In fact, aerial Yoga is suited well for a beginner yogi.
Aerial Yoga has been shown to improve digestion. Depending on the styles of stretches performed in your class, the movements, which may involve supported inversions, can enhance the digestive mechanism system. Further, it may assist with various digestion-related issues like constipation and indigestion. This type of yoga practice also is good for your heart and blood circulation. Through the movements and the suspended yoga postures, you'll experience detoxification of your circulatory and lymphatic systems. This can have a direct effect on lowering the onset of various cardiovascular issues.
Aerial Yoga also helps you to build core strength, aid in physical movement, increase your flexibility, and even experience full relaxation. Have you ever taken a nap in a hammock? Try doing Savasana in aerial silk; it's comforting and nurturing. You can have a beautiful meditative experience at the end of your supported in-flight yoga practice.
Another style of Yoga that is often misunderstood is Tantra Yoga. Many people relate this type of Yoga to the expression of sex.
Tantra Yoga is certainly about getting in touch with your body and being able to raise the subtle energies within you.
This idea may improve your sex life, but it is important to know that Tantra Yoga is much more than sexual expression. In fact, many of the modern styles of Yoga we practice today are derived from the tantric philosophy.
The true meaning of tantra is about expansion. In the ancient history of Yoga, the practice was limited to ceremonial practice that involved scriptures, songs, prayers, and meditation. As the yogic philosophy evolved, practitioners began to believe that there was more to reaching enlightenment. In the earlier teachings, enlightenment was something that was reached when energies and attentions were sent outward. New ways of thinking proclaimed that the path toward enlightenment was not only an outward expression but something that can be achieved inwardly. In order to do that, however, we need to focus on ourselves. The movement of the physical body was eventually introduced into the practice (asana). It was later taught in this new era of Yoga that if the mind and body can become clear, it can achieve enlightenment.
Related article: History of yoga
Tantra is a Sanskrit word; it is a combination of two words: tanoti and trayati, or tan and tra. "Tan" means expansion, and "tra" means liberation. Therefore, the whole word can mean the expansion of consciousness and the liberation of energy. One could not reach eternal bliss if they are blocked or weighed down by the worldly actions that surrounded them or engulfed them. A true yogi needed to release him or herself from these binds to attain true freedom; to be able to live in the world, but not be consumed by it. Tantra Yoga was the path toward that freedom.
In essence, tantra is designed to incorporate the ancient scriptures and teachings and the physical being. The intention is to connect fully with Self and The Devine.
Tantra Yoga is practiced to get you more in-tune with your whole being, so it involves the physical body, the energetic body, the emotional body, the wisdom body, and the bliss body. When these different aspects of the self are weaved together, the expanded consciousness and liberated Spirit is achieved.
So, what might you do in a Tantra Yoga class? As mentioned, other common styles of Yoga, like Power Vinyasa Yoga and Hot Yoga, have roots in tantra. Moving through a pose-sequence with the guidance of breath is certainly tantric. Sitting in meditation and focusing on breath flow to enrich Prana is also tantric. A more traditional Tantra Yoga Class will guide a student beyond the asanas and ancient teachings, and delve into aspects of astrology and Ayurvedic medicine. Tantra Yoga is a holistic practice; it not only will improve your sex life, but it will enhance your entire life.
Yoga can be especially helpful for an expecting mother. There is even a yoga class specifically designed for pregnant women: Prenatal Yoga (also called Pregnancy yoga). A new mom can highly benefit from a prenatal yoga class because it caters to the many changes her body is experiencing through the trimesters. Not only are there physical changes in the body, but there may be emotional shifts, too. Yoga can manage these conditions so that the mother can have a smooth and healthy delivery.
As the fetus is developing and growing, the expecting mother may experience stiffness, achy joints, sore back muscles, even nausea, and headaches. Overall, it can be quite an ordeal for the changing body.
A Prenatal Yoga Class may offer a variety of poses and sequences, but the main focus is to keep the body limber, mobile, and strong.
A good example is engaging in a modified vinyasa flow while standing. Movements will incorporate side body stretching, chest and hip opening postures, all the while supported by deep breathing. Any and all of the poses and sequences can be modified depending on the condition of the pregnant mom. It is not uncommon for a woman to attend a regular Vinyasa Flow Yoga Class in the early stages of pregnancy. Breathing and moving with moderate adjustments will prepare her for the upcoming changes. Poses like twisting or backbends will soon be difficult to practice and eventually eliminated for the safety of the fetus; more modifications will be needed as well. But attending a Pregnancy Yoga Class will offer specific variations of commonly practiced poses so that the yoga experience remains rich.
Relaxation is also the main focus in a Pregnancy Yoga Class. The changing body is under continuous stress during pregnancy. Longer relaxing poses, like Savasana, are practiced in this style of Yoga. Yoga props, like blankets and bolsters, are often used for added support of the body, so the expecting mom can completely relax. The ability to fully release tension during these important days and months can help with the mom's emotions, too. Anxiety and sad feelings can be monitored and suppressed when Yoga is a part of her self-care efforts. So, if you or someone you know is pregnant, seeking out a Prenatal Yoga Class at a studio or community center will certainly be in your favor.
By looking at these five styles of Yoga, we are only scratching the surface of the many variations of yoga practices that are available to you.