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Guide to Styles of Yoga

You can start practicing yoga at any stage of life or level of physical fitness. A steady and dedicated yoga practice, done at the appropriate level, improves your health, encourages you toward mental and emotional peace, and imparts invaluable physical and spiritual tools to cultivate an overall sense of joy and well-being. The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit word "yuj," meaning to join or unite. If you are willing and open, yoga unites you with your self, your body, your mind, and your spirit.

Styles of Yoga

Anusara Yoga |Ashtanga Yoga | Bikram Yoga | Iyengar Yoga | Kripalu Yoga | Kundalini Yoga | Partner Yoga | Restorative Yoga | Svaroopa Yoga | Viniyoga

Anusara Yoga (ah-new-SAR-uh)

The poses in Anusara Yoga—a heart-oriented, spiritually inspiring yoga—are considered to be "celebrations of the heart," expressed from the "inside out," so your unique differences, limitations, and talents are honored. Developed by John Friend whose main hatha influence was B.K.S. Iyengar, Anusara Yoga covers key yoga asanas encouraging inner strength, self-confidence, and enjoyment. You can take an Anusara class at Kripalu with Todd Norian or Desiree Rumbaugh.

Ashtanga Yoga (ahsh-TONG-uh)

Ashtanga Yoga (referred to sometimes as "Power Yoga") is a system of vigorous, vinyasa (or flow) yoga originally taught by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. The asana series is synchronized with controlled breathing and energy locks (or bandhas), producing internal heat and a detoxifying sweat. In an Ashtanga Yoga class, prepare for a full-body aerobic workout. You can take an Ashtanga class at Kripalu with David Swenson or David Williams.

Bikram Yoga (BICK-rum)

During a Bikram Yoga class (sometimes called "hot" yoga), the room temperature is set between 90 and 105 degrees. A scripted 26-asana series systematically warms and stretches your muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Founder Bikram Choudhury studied yoga with Bishnu Ghosh, brother of Paramahansa Yogananda who wrote the spiritual classic, Autobiography of a Yogi, although there is little discussion of yoga philosophy in a Bikram Yoga class. You can take a Bikram class at Kripalu with Rajashree Choudhury.

Iyengar Yoga

Iyengar Yoga, the most widely taught and practiced style of yoga in the West, is known for its emphasis on precision and alignment in the postures and for making use of various props to help achieve this precision safely and without pain. Developed in India by B.K.S. Iyengar, this yoga technique responds to your individual capacities and limitations. You can take an Iyengar class at Kripalu with Kofi Busia or Joan White.

Kripalu Yoga (krih-PAH-loo)

Kripalu Yoga, stemming from the teachings of Swami Kripalu and brought to America in the 1960s by his disciple Yogi Amrit Desai, emphasizes how you practice as much as how you live your life. Kripalu Yoga promotes a commonsense practice accessible to everyone and encourages you to listen to your body, the ultimate authority. Pranayama, asana, and "meditation in motion" will all be found in a Kripalu Yoga class. Certified Kripalu Yoga teachers lead all our guest yoga classes at Kripalu Center. You can also take Kripalu Yoga programs with some of our senior teachers, including Shobhan Richard Faulds, Randal Williams, and Rudy Peirce.

Kundalini Yoga

Kundalini Yoga, brought to the West in 1969 by Yogi Bhajan, is a yoga of "angles and triangles" in combination with pranayama, mantras, and mudras, and focuses on the controlled release of kundalini energy believed to reside at the base of the spine. Poses and exercises are aimed at detoxifying and cleansing our physical, emotional, and spiritual bodies. You can take a Kundalini Yoga class at Kripalu with Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa.

Partner Yoga

In partner yoga, two practitioners work together in a dynamic series of interdependent postures that require vulnerability and strength from both partners. In supporting and assisting one another, you help deepen each other’s practice and experience a peaceful balance between assertion and surrender. Trust and collaboration are emphasized in partner yoga as important and healing qualities. You can take partner yoga at Kripalu with Ann Greene and Todd Norian.

Restorative Yoga

Restorative yoga allows you to experience the ease that underlies a more active yoga practice. Gentle, calming, and therapeutic, restorative yoga uses supportive props and emphasizes "surrendering to gravity" to allow for total relaxation in every pose. This healing yoga style is a favorite for those with injuries or high stress, or during major life transitions. You can take a restorative yoga class at Kripalu with Sudha Carolyn Lundeen.

Svaroopa® Yoga

Founded by Rama Berch, Svaroopa Yoga teaches different ways of doing familiar poses, emphasizing the opening of the spine. This yoga style integrates asana, anatomy, and yoga philosophy, and emphasizes the body as a vehicle for awakening consciousness, healing, and transformation. This yoga gets its name from Pantanjali’s Yoga Sutras, in which he discusses the importance of the development of "svaroopa" or transcendent inner experience. You can take Svaroopa Yoga at Kripalu with Rama Berch.


Yoga postures are practiced gently in Viniyoga, which is a methodology developed by Krishnamacharya and is carried on by his son T.K.V. Desikachar. Through Viniyoga you can develop a personal practice at your own level using asanas (postures), pranayama (breathing), meditation, ritual, and prayer. Spinal movement and the flow of breath are consciously integrated into the asana sequence. Individual needs and abilities are respected and honored. You can take Viniyoga at Kripalu with Gary Kraftsow.