All is one. Or is it?
The word yoga translates to ‘union’ in English. It derives from the Sanskrit yuj, which means ‘to join, unite or yoke’. Ironically, yoga seems to be divided into a thousand different styles these days… One more reason why we at Svaha Yoga stick to teaching according the traditional four paths of yoga.
It can be quite entangling to find your way through the yoga-web (we’re telling you: you’re gonna love that animation). So we’ve made you a little summary of some major yoga styles you’ll hear about on- and offline – check it after the break.
The ABC of yoga styles
Ashtanga yoga is often hailed as the modern form of classical Indian yoga. Ashtanga classes focus on the alignment of movement and breath, where the length of movement is dictated by breathing. Ashtanga practice always involves one of six sequences of asanas, depending on your level of experience.
Bikram yoga is hot and sticky – we’re talking 40° C and 40% humidity hot and sticky. Which makes it all kinds of intense. A Bikram class consists of 26 set poses that are always performed in the same order, and they’re not the easiest. The purpose of a class is to sweat out all the poisons, and sweat you will. There’s a very similar yoga style around, simply named hot yoga, because the name ‘Bikram’ is copyrighted and actively pursued.
You’ll see many places offer Hatha yoga, which can seem confusing since there’s also the path of Hatha yoga. But no stress: Hatha yoga classes are indeed all about this specific path – the physical aspect of yoga. Apart from the asanas, there’s time for self reflection on both body and mind. But there is no devotional chanting or dedication in pure Hatha yoga.
Iyengar yoga has a strong physical emphasis. This yoga style is firmly grounded in the path of Hatha Yoga, so the major focus is body alignment. Practitioners often hold the same poses for extended periods of time before moving into the next. They practice over 200 poses, fourteen types of pranayama and use various props to make sure everyone can practice safely and accurately.
Jivamukti has its roots in NYC, but has become a renowned yoga style worldwide, famous for it’s strong focus on activism and veganism:
“The aim of Yoga is to realize that we are all connected.” – Sharon Gannon & David Life, founders of Jivamukti Yoga.
Perhaps you’ve seen the images of yogi(ni)s with white turbans, one of the apparent characteristics of Kundalini yoga. But there’s more to it – the style is sometimes called yoga of awareness. Kundalini yogis put a lot of emphasis on energy, breathing techniques and chants. As the turbans suggest, the yoga style is very much based on Indian culture.
At Svaha Yoga, we want to support the focus on awareness taught in Kundalini yoga, which is why we teach two Kundalini Yoga Classes per week.
Power yoga is based on traditional yoga asanas, merged with the North American demand for rigorous physical exercise. It focuses on using the body a lot, often in a hot room. Power yoga practitioners often add a hearty spiritual element, but the body always remains at the core of the practice.
Restorative yoga is a great way to balance a more active practice with a practice that is designed to give your body and mind space to restore. It’s perfect for those recovering from injuries or accidents. To get the full beneficial effect of the poses, without physical strain, people use a lot of props.
We teach weekly classes in this style at Svaha Yoga.
Lookie-here, that’s us! In 1999, Svaha Yoga was the first school to offer Vinyasa yoga in Amsterdam. Vinyasa yoga is a flowing, sequenced practice led by Ujjayi breath – so you might also know it as flow yoga. The sequence traditionally starts with poses that address the basis of your spine and then works its way up to the top of your head. There’s eternal variation in poses and sequencing, so you might notice some differences between various schools.
At Svaha Yoga, we integrate the traditional four paths of yoga in each of our classes – something unique in town.
As the name implies, Yin yoga is a very meditative form of yoga. It was founded by a Taoist yoga teacher, so patience and meditation are extremely important . Yin-yogis hold poses for a very long time – around 5 minutes per pose, and they’re all on the floor. The goal is to just chill and reach a meditative state. Feel free to come chill out at our weekly class.