TYPES OF YOGA: Basic 2023 Guide to Learning the Different Poses

Yoga is a word of Sanskrit origin, which means “yoke” or “union.” It originated about 5,000 years ago in ancient India as an element of Hinduism. Yoga involves a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices that originated with the gurus. The different kinds of yoga were meant to control and calm the mind so that people could let go of their attachments to the world.

In contrast, the term today denotes a modern form of posture-based physical fitness. It focuses on stress-relief and relaxation techniques, consisting largely of poses and postures. Although spirituality is sometimes incorporated through meditation and chanting. But some instructors prefer to keep it athletic. Pantajali is often considered the father of modern yoga.

Yoga is often practiced at leisure centers, health clubs, and schools. Furthermore, it is an integral part of health treatment, and also fastens surgical healing processes.

Types of Yoga

Types of Yoga

Hatha Yoga:

Hatha means force. It comprises all other yoga types. Hence, it is the mother of all yoga practices. The Hatha Yoga class is usually a gentle slow-paced one and does not follow a flow. However, what is consistent is that the physical poses and postures are linked to your breathing patterns. This class is all about the basics. It is perfect for beginners because it gently introduces you to yoga practice.

Vinyasa Flow:

Vinyasa means connection. This style requires the coordination of your breath with your movement. Here, you need to connect your movement through inhaling or exhaling. Its focus is to create a flow of postures, with smooth transitions from one to the next. The style is slow and gentle, without a hard structure. However, it can be fast and intense, depending on your level. 

Iyengar Yoga:

This type is described as “meditation in action”. It focuses on alignment and precision. This type works with a whole lot of props, like straps, blocks, and blankets.

Basically, each pose in Iyengar is intense but safe to perform. However, you need to hold it for a long time and expand as you breathe. This style accommodates all limitations, and in turn, makes you stable, flexible, and strong. Hence, it is recommended for people with injuries and chronic problems.

Bikram Yoga:

Bikram yoga is a type or system of hot yoga. It is usually done in a room that is heated to 41°C, with 40% humidity. The idea is to sweat out impurities. It was founded by Bikram Choudhury, hence the name. The style became popular in the early ’70s. It has a sequence of 26 postures that systematically challenges each and every part of the body.

Ashtanga Yoga:

Also known as Power Yoga, the Ashtanga style is considered to be a contemporary version of classical yoga. It was initiated by K. Pattabhi Jois during the 20th century.

Like the Vinyasa flow, this style also interlinks movement with breath. However, the movements are quick, defined, and demanding, to be performed in a specific order. The style can be practiced in a teacher-led class or in a Mysore format. Mysore involves an instructor’s presence, but the students are expected to know the sequence and timing of the poses from memory. 

Jivamukti Yoga:

This style of yoga is not just a practice, it is a way of life. It comprises of ethical, spiritual, and physical aspects. The style was formulated by Sharon Gannon and David Life in 1984. This style focuses on how you treat the environment and living creatures. Hence, you must be mindful of the environment, kind to animals, and become vegan. The benefits are both physical and spiritual. The five most important aspects of this method are Shastra (scripture), Bhakti (devotion), Ahimsa (non-harming), Nada (music), and Dhyana (meditation).

In a Jivamukti class, you would start off by setting an intention, followed by chanting, and then, breathing awareness. 

Kundalini Yoga:

Traditionally, the kundalini style is meant to open the different energies inside each of us and heighten consciousness. Hence, it finds its roots in the Chakras. It aims at opening up the mind and making you more aware of your mind and body. This is one of the spiritual styles that includes a lot of meditation, chanting of mantras, postures, and breathing. Therefore, it tends to be both physically demanding and mentally challenging. 

Anusara Yoga:

Also known as Yoga of the heart, this style focuses on upliftment and is the most spiritual of all the yoga techniques. That is because it focuses on the heart, and spirituality is of the heart.

However, It is a new form of yoga, founded in 1997 by John Friend. The aim of this style is to seek the light within yourself.

If soul-searching and reflection are one of your interests, this is something you must try. 

Yin Yoga: 

This form of yoga was initiated by a Taoist yoga teacher and martial arts expert, Paulie Zink in the late 1970s. Yin yoga works deeply into our bodies with passive, longer-held poses. Therefore, you are expected to hold each pose for at least five minutes. It is slow-paced and targets the deepest tissues of the body. Yin yoga on the connective tissues, the deep fascia networks of the body, and the meridians. It helps in increasing circulation and flexibility.

Furthermore, this style of yoga is meant to improve the chi (life energy) in the body. Also, it is relaxing and challenging, as you will learn to be patient and focused.

 Yoga nidra:

These are two words of Sanskrit meaning “psychic sleep”. This style is more of meditation than poses and postures. However, it is different from meditation. Here, the goal is to move into a deep state of conscious sleep, which is a deeper state of relaxation with awareness. 

This state involves lying down and moving from the unconscious to the conscious. But meditation involves sitting and being in a waking state of consciousness while focusing the mind.  

Types of Yoga Poses

Here, we have four main classifications. They include standing, sitting, supine and prone yoga poses.

Sitting Poses

Sitting pose
Types of Yoga

These tend to be energetically grounding and focus more on flexibility than strength. Sitting on the floor creates a stable position to release and open the body with less effort and greater ease. Simple sitting poses are used as a comfortable and stable base for meditation and yogic breathing.

Generally, these seated poses include straight and cross-legged postures, forward folds, and twists with the legs and/or buttocks touching or close to the floor. 

Butterfly pose:

  1. To get in this pose, sit on the floor, bend both knees and bring your feet together. 
  2. Using your hands, open your feet up like a book, pressing your knees toward the floor with your elbows. If you want more of a stretch, extend your arms out in front of you. Stay here for five breaths.

Child’s Pose: 

  1. Kneel on your mat with your knees hips-width distance apart, and your big toes touching behind you. 
  2. Take a deep breath in and, as you exhale, lie your torso over your thighs. 
  3. Next, try to lengthen your neck and spine by drawing your ribs away from your tailbone and the crown of your head away from your shoulders. 
  4. Lastly, rest your arms beside your legs, with palms facing up, or try extending your arms out in front of you. Stay in the pose for five breaths.

Seated Straddle: 

  1. Sit on the floor in a straddle position and spread your heels three feets apart. Make sure your toes and knees are pointing straight up. 
  2. Next, slowly fold forward at your hips, pressing your belly button and chest forward to prevent your back from rounding.
  3.  Also, be sure to support the weight of your torso with your hands on your legs or feet. Alternatively, you can rest them out in front of you.

Wide-Legged Forward Bend:

  1. Stand with your feet three to four feet apart. Next, take your arms behind your back, clasping your fingers, and pressing the heels of your palms together in a fist. 
  2. Fold forward, hinging at your hips, drawing the crown of your head and your hands toward the floor.
  3. Relax your toes and try to shift the weight of your hips forward so they’re in line with your feet.Stay here for five deep breaths. 
  4. Then press into your feet, engage your quads, and inhale as you stand up.

Staff Pose:

  1. Sit on your mat with both legs together. Place your palms flat on the floor beside your hips, actively pressing them into the ground.
  2. Keep both arms as straight as possible and lengthen your spine, imagining it is a sturdy old man’s staff.
  3. Roll your shoulders away from your ears and tuck your chin.
  4.  Engage your leg muscles and flex your feet. Stay here for five deep breaths, keeping your belly still, and then release.

Seated Forward Bend:

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you. Make your spine as long as you can.
  2. Slowly hinge at your hips, lowering your torso toward your thighs.
  3. Maintain a straight back and fold as far as you need, to feel a nice stretch in your back and hamstrings. Don’t worry about folding your body completely in half, unless this is comfortable for you. Stay like this for five deep breaths.

One-Legged Seated Spinal Twist:

  1. Begin seated on your mat with your legs extended straight out in front of you. 
  2. Bend your right knee and place your right heel as close to your right side bone as you can. There should be at least eight inches between your right foot and left inner thigh.
  3. Reach your right arm behind you and plant your palm on the floor.
  4. Cross your left elbow over to the outside of your right knee. Hold for five breaths, slowly release, and switch sides.

Standing Yoga 

Standing pose
Types of Yoga

These postures require both strength and flexibility. Standing poses tend to be more energetically uplifting and opening. They build strength and flexibility in the legs, upper body, glutes, and core muscles. These poses are grounding and help improve balance as well as strengthen the root Chakra.  

Mountain Pose or Equal Standing Pose:

  1. Stand at the front of your mat, feet together, legs active, and arms by your sides. If you choose, this is the time to take a moment to bring your awareness inward, to create an intention for your practice or to make a dedication. Stay for five breaths

Pyramid Pose:

  1. Stand with both feet together in Mountain Pose. 
  2. Step your left foot directly behind you about two feet.
  3. Bring your arms behind your back, bend your elbows, and press your palms together in reverse Namaste position.
  4. Inhale to lengthen your spine and, as you exhale, fold at your waist.
  5. Keep both legs straight and lower your torso as far as you can.
  6. Rest your chin or forehead on your right shin. Hold for five deep breaths, then lift your torso up.
  7. Repeat this pose with your left leg forward.

 Rotated Triangle:

  1. Begin in Mountain Pose. Step to the back of your mat with your right foot. Your feet will be parallel, and you will be facing the right side of your mat. You should have about three feet between your heels.
  2. Turn your right toes to the right 90 degrees and your left toes slightly to the right 45 degrees.
  3.  Rotate your torso so your chest and hips are now facing the back of your mat. 
  4. Keep both legs straight as you lower your left palm to the ground on the pinkie side of your right foot.
  5.  Raise your right arm straight up and work on extending the top of your head away from your hips.
  6. Pull your left shoulder away from your hips to lengthen through both sides of the ribs equally. Next, stay here for five deep breaths. 
  7. Finally, lift your torso up, rotate your feet to the left, and repeat this pose on the other side.

 Tree Pose:

  1. Stand with your feet together in Mountain Pose. Put all your weight into your left foot and lift your right foot off the ground.
  2.  Grab onto your right ankle with your right hand, flex your foot, and place your heel as far up your standing leg as possible with your toes pointing down.
  3. To prevent your right foot from sliding down, actively press your left leg and the sole of your right foot against each other. 
  4. Draw your right knee back to open your hip.
  5. Press your palms together in front of your heart or raise your arms into the air, gazing forward. Hold for five breaths.


  1. Begin in Mountain Pose. Inhale as you shift weight onto your left foot and bend your right knee. 
  2. Reach for your right foot with your right hand. If you can, bring your palm to the inside arch of your right foot.
  3.  Slip your thumb between your big toe and your second toe so that your right hand can hold onto the bone underneath your big toe.
  4. Reach your left arm out in front of you, press your right foot away from you to open your shoulder, and lean your torso slightly forward. 
  5. Raise your right foot as high as you can to stretch your right hip flexor. Stay here for five breaths and then switch sides.

 Eagle Pose:

  1. Begin standing tall in Mountain Pose. Shift weight onto your left foot and lift your right knee up toward your chest.
  2.  Cross your right knee in front of your left knee and bend both knees slightly, trying to wrap your right toes around the back of your left calf.
  3. Cross your left elbow over your right elbow. Work on bringing your left fingertips toward the base of your right palm and then lift your elbows straight up toward the ceiling. Stay here for five breaths, release, and then do the other side.

Standing Split:

  1. From Mountain Pose, take a deep breath in and, as you exhale, come into a Standing Forward Bend.
  2. Shift weight onto your right foot and your palms and lift your left leg into the air.
  3.  Tuck your chin and draw your torso toward your right leg, breathing deeply and relaxing the shoulders away from the ears.Stay here for five breaths.
  4.  Then return your left leg to the floor. Stay here for a complete breath and then repeat this pose with the right leg lifted.

Supine Yoga

Supine pose
Types of Yoga

These postures are done on your back. Supine yoga release stress, promote flexibility and help to integrate your practice.


  1. Start by lying flat on your back with your arms along the sides of your body, with your palms facing down.
  2. Bend your knees, placing your heels as close as you can to your bum.
  3. With your palms and feet pressing firmly into the ground, lift your hips up.
  4.  Keep your palms on the mat or clasp your hands together below your pelvis, extending through your arms. Or you can also bend your elbows and rest your hands on your lower back. If your feet are close enough, you can also hold your ankles.
  5. Stay here for five deep breaths, lifting your hips up as high as you can.

One-Legged Half Wheel:

  1. Begin lying flat on your back with your arms along the sides of your body, with your palms facing down.
  2. Bend your knees, placing your heels as close as you can to your bum.
  3. Support your pelvis by placing your hands under your lower back. 
  4. Press into your left leg and lift your right leg into the air.
  5. Stay here for five deep breaths, lifting your hips up as high as you can and then switching sides.


  1. Begin lying on your back. Come into Plow Pose with your feet over your head and your hips over your shoulders.
  2. Bring your hands to your lower back, fingertips pointing toward the ceiling.
  3. Keep your elbows on the ground and in line with your shoulders.
  4. Slowly lift one leg straight up, and then the other. The toes should stack directly over the hips, which are stacked over the shoulders.Stay here for 15 breaths.

 Plow Pose:

  1. Begin lying flat on your back. Place your arms by your sides, palms facing down. 
  2. Press firmly into your palms, bend your knees, and bring both legs over your head. 
  3. If you can, straighten your knees and rest the tops of your toes on the ground.
  4. Interlace your fingers and gently rock your weight from side to side to bring your shoulder blades closer together.
  5.  Keep your head and neck still. Stay here for five breaths. 
  6. Slowly lower your hips to the floor, bending your knees into your chest.

Fish Pose:

  1. Lie flat on your back with your arms close to your sides, palms facing down. 
  2. Keeping your bum on the floor, inhale as you press your hands and forearms into the ground to arch your back, lifting your shoulders off the floor.
  3.  Tilt your head backward and rest the top of your head on the floor.
  4. Keeping your legs strong, hold for five breaths. Then lower back to the mat.

Prone Poses

Bow pose
Types of Yoga

These are backbends that are known to energize the body and tonify the kidneys. Prone postures are simple enough for beginners. However, they can be very challenging to hold for longer periods.

Boat Pose:

  1. Begin sitting on your mat. Bend your knees and lift your feet off the floor, balancing on your tush.
  2.  Keep the spine long and straighten the legs as much as you can without rounding the back. If this is too hard, keep the knees bent.Hold for five complete breaths.
  3. Repeat five times, with lifts in between each one to really work your abs.

Cobra Pose:

  1. Lie on your belly and bring your legs together so your knees are touching.
  2. Extend your arms straight out in front of you.
  3. Lift your head up off the ground, then begin to slowly walk your hands in, keeping your hips and thighs on the ground, but gently arching your lower back. 
  4. Walk them in as far as you can, keeping your elbows slightly bent.
  5. Relax, keeping your gaze forward or lowering your head back between your shoulder blades.
  6. Stay here for five breaths, opening through the chest and abs, and then lower your torso back to the mat.

 Locust Pose:

  1. Lie on your belly with your legs together. Place your arms by your sides so your palms are facing up.
  2. As you inhale, lift your legs, head, and upper body off the floor. Your hands remain on the floor for support.
  3.  As you breathe, extend the crown of your head away from your toes, lengthening as much as you can through your spine.
  4. Stay for five breaths and then release back to the mat.

Bow Pose:

  1. Lie on your belly. Bend your knees and hold onto the outside edge of your right ankle and then your left.
  2. Once you have a firm hold of each ankle, try to keep your toes together, either pointing or flexing your feet.
  3. Lift your feet up as high as you can and shift your weight forward so you’re resting on your naval instead of on your pubic bone.
  4. Hold for five deep breaths and then slowly release.

Benefits of the Different Types of Yoga

  1. Yoga improves strength, balance and flexibility.
  2. It helps with back pain relief.
  3. Yoga can ease arthritis symptoms.
  4. Yoga benefits health. Several heart condition, including high blood pressure and excess weight, can be addressed through yoga.
  5. Yoga aids sleep and relaxation
  6. It gives more energy and brighter moods.
  7. Yoga helps to manage stress. 
  8. Participating in yoga classes can ease loneliness and provide an environment for group healing and support. 
  9. Yoga promotes better self-care. 

What type of yoga is most relaxing?

Restorative yoga is likely the type of yoga that provides the most obvious opportunity to relax. Your body and mind will be able to calm down and relax as you practice this slow and gentle kind of yoga. Because the positions are supported, very little or no muscular effort is necessary to hold them, and as a result, you are able to swiftly relax into a healing and soothing condition.

Which yoga is best for mental stress?

It has been suggested that Hatha yoga in particular could be helpful for stress management. Beginners may find that they like the slower pace and simpler exercises of Hatha yoga, which is one of the most common kinds of yoga.

What is the hardest yoga to learn?

Because it requires a significant amount of patience and self-control, Ashtanga is widely regarded as the most challenging type of yoga.

What yoga is best to start with?

Because it is often seen as a more moderate kind of yoga, beginners are always encouraged to start with Hatha yoga. Traditionally speaking, it is a class that moves at a more leisurely pace, and during it, you hold each position for a few breaths while keeping the focus on improving your posture.

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