Yoga originated in India approximately 5000 years ago. Since then, yoga has spread like wild-fire throughout the world. India is the home of yoga and offers a variety of yoga styles and forms and also has some of the most extraordinary yoga teachers, yoga studios and yoga schools.
Here are the popular yoga styles in India:
Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga
Ashtanga vinyasa is one of the most popular yoga styles in India and all over the world. Ashtanga means the eight-fold path, which includes asanas, meditation, pranayama and the other limbs of yoga that make the process of yoga whole and complete.
Created by Pattabhi Jois during the 20th century, Ashtanga vinyasa is an energetic form of yoga and a more ‘yang’ meaning ‘active’ form of yoga. In this unique yoga style, the breath is synchronized with movements. The yoga postures are linked by movements known as vinyasa.
Ashtanga yoga has a set sequence of yoga asanas (postures) that are to be practised in the same order. The energizing and transformative effects of this style of yoga are felt when the asanas are performed in the designed order with sincerity, strength and dedication.
Ashtanga means the eight limbs of yoga and the yoga practise of Ashtanga vinyasa uses four limbs of the body, the hands and leg to strengthen the entire body, including the core.
The most popular form of yoga in India, Hatha yoga ranks on top in the list of the most widely practised yoga style in India. Hatha yoga is the oldest form of yoga. It tests and transforms the human body and human consciousness in its unique ways.
In this form of yoga, each pose is held for a long duration. The stretch and the effects of each asana is felt through the body and in each cell of the human body. In Ashtanga, the poses flow dynamically, whereas, in Hatha yoga, the poses are static and are experienced for longer durations.
Both practices aim to heal and transform human health and consciousness by synchronizing the breath with the movements of various postures. The yoga institute in Bombay and the Bihar school of yoga are some of the best schools that offer hatha yoga teacher training in India.
The Hatha in Sanskrit means ‘force’ which is consciously used to perform the physical movements and breathing movements.
Iyengar yoga has its roots in Hatha yoga. Invented by BKS Iyengar to heal his own tuberculosis, Iyengar yoga was developed as a therapeutic form of yoga. The unique element of Iyengar yoga is that the focus of the yoga practice is on proper alignment.
BKS Iyengar believed that if the alignment of the body during the posture is perfect and correct, then the body can begin to heal itself. He realized that each person’s body is different and so to find the right alignment for each person he introduced props such as blocks, blankets, straps, chairs and bolsters.
Even though Iyengar yoga is a bit gentler than Hatha yoga and Ashtanga yoga, it is equally challenging and transformational on the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual level.
According to the ancient texts, kundalini is the divine feminine energy that rests dormant at the end of our spine. In order to make this cosmic energy-conscious within our own body and energy systems, Kundalini yoga was developed with its own set of breathing exercises, yoga postures and chants.
When kundalini yoga is practised with sincerity and devotion to the truth and the divine mother, the energy at the base of the spine rises up through the central energy channel known as the ‘Sushumna Nadi’. Once the energy rises and moves upwards, it merges with our ‘Sahasrara chakra’ where we experience the state of being known as ‘oneness’ or ‘enlightenment’.
There are some splendid yoga schools in Rishikesh and Kerala that teach Kundalini yoga.
Acro yoga is a more recent invention and is a form of yoga that is based on connecting with a fellow yoga partner. In this form of yoga, you and your yoga partner perform various lifts and bends in different yoga positions.
Acro yoga is a beautiful form of yoga that helps build core strength in both partners and also teaches practitioners to trust themselves and their partners during the practice. So, acro yoga helps build trust, makes us more compassionate and considerate and promotes a feeling of togetherness and connection.
It is taught in various yoga schools and studios in Auroville, Rishikesh and other parts of India.
Power yoga descended from hatha yoga. It is a form of yoga that is performed in the most energized way. Yoga asanas are performed in a fast and furious manner to generate as much as heat possible in the possible.
Unlike other forms of yoga, the focus of power yoga is mainly on fitness, whereas the focus of other forms of yoga is on healing, the transformation of human consciousness and spiritual growth. Power yoga is primarily taught at gyms and yoga studios to lose body fat and weight.
Also known as yin yoga, restorative yoga brings in the feminine side of yoga. While all other forms of yoga require to apply force and are more heat-generating and energizing, restorative yoga is a gentle form of yoga that requires us to let go of force.
The practices of yin yoga are based on the knowledge that we, as human beings, need a balance of both – force and surrendering the force. Yin yoga involves a gentle flow of asanas that are performed lightly and gently without any force.
Restorative yoga aims to restore the body into health and flow with gentle and soft movements. Restorative yoga, when done right, is even better than a nap and makes the body feel rested and relaxed.
India offers several yin yoga studios, schools and retreats.
India is the birth mother of yoga and offers a variety of yoga styles to expand human consciousness, heal the human body and find deep peace within. The breath-taking landscapes and ancient yoga culture of India is the perfect mix for a transformational yoga experience.