Different types of yoga: A guide to find the right yoga style for you

which yoga style should I choose a guide to the different yoga styles

There are many different yoga styles these days and there are new styles popping up every year it seems.  When doing research for this blog I came across yoga styles I haven’t even heard of before. There is Vinyasa yoga, Bikram yoga, Iyengar yoga, Aerial yoga and so on. You can almost take a word and put yoga behind it, throw it in google, and there is a chance something will pop up. But isn’t yoga essentially all the same?

Related: https://petrianne.yoga/from-ancient-india-to-hollywood-a-brief-history-of-yoga/

In this blog I will guide you through the most common yoga styles, so I excluded yoga styles starting with an alcoholic beverage or animal before the word ‘yoga’ (like beer yoga and goat yoga). I agree, it can be confusing and a bit overwhelming to pick a yoga style if you want to start your yoga journey with so many different styles to choose from. Here is my breakdown of the main styles of yoga, oriented towards the physical side of the practice, and some tips to find the right one for you.

Four primairy types of yoga

In my first blog I talked about how yoga is much more then only the physical practice. Essentially there are four primary types of yoga:

  • Karma yoga: selfless action for the good of others (like Mother Theresa’s work).
  • Bhakti yoga: the yoga of devotion. Forms of this path include prayer, chanting, singing dancing. You might have heared of Kirtan, which is singing mantra’s with a group of people. If you haven’t done that before I definitely recommend it.
  • Jnana yoga: the yoga of intellect and wisdom. So studying the old scriptures, but also a study of yourself self.
  • Raja yoga: the ‘Royal’ yoga. This one was added later and is a combination of the other three mentioned above, while integrating the ‘Eight Limbs of yoga’. Hatha yoga is included in this path, as it is a combination of the third and the fourth limb of yoga, which are yoga Asana (the postures) and Pranayama (breathwork). All the other yoga types are originated from Hatha yoga, which is the oldest yoga style.

Back to physical yoga

Like I mentioned, the pioneers of bringing yoga to the western world each had their own style of yoga but the essence is the same. That is the beauty of yoga. No person is the same, so it only makes sense that there are different styles of yoga. All roads lead to Rome, right? Meaning with Rome that the goal of yoga is much bigger than asana (the postures). The goal is becoming a happier and healthier human being.

The different yoga styles explained

Hatha Yoga

The general opinion in the west is that this is more of an ‘easy’ yoga style. However, the original Hatha yoga can be very challenging. If you go to a Hatha class in the west expect an accessible class combining posture and breath. The class will be slow paced and the postures will be held for a few seconds so you can get really into the posture. The poses are done independently, although you can also see some poses being repeated into sets. In this way, form and precision of the poses becomes a focus so you can find stillness. Stillness in the body and stillness in the mind. It is a very broad yoga style that can vary greatly depending on the teacher.


  • There is enough time to explore the different postures.
  • Slow paced so you can keep focusing on your breath and movement.
  • Focus on alignment.
  • Learning the fundamentals of yoga


  • You never know what you’re going to get yourself into.
  • It can vary greatly from teacher to teacher.

My experience

I only have good things to say about this yoga style. It was the very first class I joined over 10 years ago and Hatha yoga made me fall in love with yoga. No surprise this is also the style that I got my teacher training certificate in. I love how with Hatha yoga you have the time to get into the poses. Going slow, building strength and finding balance. The only downside is that it can depend greatly on the teacher, but that counts for every yoga style you will try.

hatha yoga class different yoga styles explained

Ashtanga Yoga

As you can read in my blog about the history of yoga, Ashtanga yoga is founded by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. It is a fixed series of postures practiced in the same way and in the same order, every time. There are different series but you will likely be practicing ‘The Primary series’. I will not go into detail about the different series but if you are reading this and are practicing ‘The intermediate series’ or even T’he Avanced series’, please send me a message! Ok. Back to ‘The Primary series’.  It consists of Sun Salutation A, Sun Salutation B, a standing sequence, and a closing sequence. The postures synchronize breath with movement. It is a fast-paced and intense style of yoga. The different postures are ‘glued’ together by moving through a ‘Vinyasa’ which is a set of postures, therefore you are in constant movement from one pose to the next and it can be quite demanding. Ashtanga yoga has a reputation of being hardcore but this is often because people tend to forget to listen to their body and thus pushing themselves too much. In Ashtanga (and this counts for every yoga style) there is always room to adapt. It is YOUR practice.

There are two different kinds of Ashtanga yoga:

  1. Ashtanga Led: this means that there is a teacher guiding the class through the sequences.
  2. Ashtanga Mysore Style: Named after the city in India where Jois taught his students. This is a traditional way to teach students individually but still in the dynamic of a group. Students do the same practice but everyone works at their own pace. The class is silent except from the teacher who gives instructions to each student individually. The only thing that is the same is the sound of everyone breathing. Mysore style is great for students who practice every day.


  • Dynamic and great for building strength. Hello muscles!
  • Challenging but because of practicing the same sequence every time you can see your improvement very quickly.
  • Pretty quickly you will know what to expect in a class and you can get in ‘the zone’. This is a meditative state where you just flow through the postures with your breath.


  • It can be really tiring so don’t let your ego get the best of you and don’t stop listening to your body. It can take a while to build endurance and that is ok.
  • Because it is the same set of sequences you will have to keep yourself motivated to not become bored with the sequence.

My experience

There have been periods in my life that I only practiced Ashtanga yoga and it really helped with progressing in yoga. Especially if you have a good teacher and are able to practice regularly. What is great about Ashtanga, is that you see your progress really quickly because you are doing the same sequences. I eventually wanted to try more styles but I still regularly go to an ashtanga class to get into that ‘zone’, the place of meditation in movement. There is so much to learn! Even though it is the same sequence every time, you will not get bored quickly in my opinion.

Iyengar Yoga

b.k.s. Iyengar in mountain pose tadasana different yoga styles explained

Named after the late great B.K.S. Iyengar. This style of practice is based on finding the best alignment in the postures as possible for your body. This style of yoga uses yoga props like blankets, blocks, ropes and straps to assist students to go deeper into the postures and/or stay in them longer. The props help to get the best alignment. Iyengar yoga holds poses for longer periods. Mister Iyengar was so focused on alignment that he said it takes people most of their lives to get the ‘right ’alignment. He practices yoga for many, many years and still was so humble to exclaim he didn’t even master mountain pose yet. (photo mountain pose)


  • Great way to learn everything about alignment.
  • There is time to feel what a posture is doing with your body.
  • So much to explore with the props.


  • It can look intimidating.
  • This yoga style is a bit harder to find. Meaning not on every street corner like the regular vinyasa studio’s.

My experience

I remember it was a bit intimidating when I first walked into an Iyengar class and saw the ropes on the wall. But after a few moments I forgot all about it and thoroughly enjoyed how the props and the teacher helped me go deeper into the postures. I also learned more about how my body works.

Vinyasa or Vinyasa flow

This is one of the most popular forms of yoga in the world and there are many different ways to practice it. As you can see in the name, ‘Vinyasa’, it is derived from Ashtanga yoga. Vinyasa is translated from Sanskrit into ‘place in a special way’. Like I mentioned before it is used to ‘glue’ poses together so your practice will feel like a dance. This is why it is also called a ‘flow’ class. True, it can take a while practicing before it feels that way. Vinyasa or Vinyasa flow classes are a string of postures weaved together in a fluent sequence. Teachers have all the freedom here so make sure you find out a bit more about the kind of vinyasa class you are going to attend. Is it ‘gentle’ or ‘power’? Most studio’s will make sure they use more words to describe the classes because the intensity of the classes can vary a lot. It can also depend on the approach of the teacher.


  • Just like Ashtanga (It is his little brother) Vinyasa is a dynamic class.
  • Great for building strength and get a sweat on.
  • There is much to choose from.


  • You never really know what you are going to get.
  • Some teachers move quite fast, so you can be feeling rushed which can influence your alignment.

My experience

Since I travel a lot I have been lucky enough to join Vinyasa classes all over the world. Before I became a yoga teacher many moons ago, this was my go-to yoga practice. I never considered myself very graceful in my movements since I always did endurance sports, but this really awakened the dancer in me. I feel so strong and graceful when I get into ‘the flow’. The downside is that sometimes I found classes moving too quickly and there is not much room for proper alignment. I recommend as a beginner to start with classes that are more based on alignment.

Yin yoga

Previous yoga styles can all be considered as ‘Yang’ practices. They are fast paced like vinyasa and build up heat in the body. The opposite is the ‘Yin’ yoga style and it is a very calm style with passive floor poses that are held for at least 4 minutes, where you breathe through the discomfort. Yin yoga is all about finding stillness and cooling the body. In Yin yoga the deeper connective tissue is targeted. This style is based on ancient Chinese philosophies and Taoist principles about pathways of energy, which is called Qi, that go through our body. Through Yin yoga the flow of energy in our body and organs will improve. Because you will be holding the postures for a longer time, you will move deeper into your body, both physically and mentally.


  • So good for the connective tissue. The ‘yang’ yoga styles don’t go that deep.
  • You will find so much stillness.


  • It can be challenging to find the stillness.
  • Not that much of a workout.

My experience

There is this saying in yoga which goes like this: ‘The posture you dislike the most, is the one you need the most’. Well, when went to my first Yin class I didn’t like any of it. Don’t get me wrong, I loved all the postures, because they are the same as ‘Yang’ yoga ones. Only to stay in them for 5 minutes was very challenging. I noticed how hard it was to find stillness and yes, it is true I needed that in that time in my life. Now I’ve come to love it and I make sure I always do some Yin yoga every week.

Restorative yoga

Restorative yoga is not about strengthening or stretching. This is a very passive yoga style where you want to avoid any kind of discomfort. It is all about finding complete comfort, complete relaxation. Only around 5 poses are practiced in a class and you will stay in the postures for a long time. You will use props again to make life in that hour as comfortable as possible. The goal is to just simply be. A restorative yoga class will give your nervous system a rest so you can recharge yourself on a deeper level.


  • Everyone can do this. Even with extreme injuries.
  • You will connect with yourself on a deep level, It is very meditative.
  • Feeling utterly relaxed (you might fall asleep and that is ok).


  • Just like Yin yoga this is not a workout. But is that a really a con?
  • It can be hard to give yourself that relaxation and to quiet the monkey mind.

My experience

intuitive flow ubud bali www.intuitiveflow.com

It hasn’t been that long since my first Restorative class. My best friend took me with her to a wonderful teacher in Bali. It was amazing. I was hooked. I experienced such deep relaxation. I would love to fly back to Bali and join a restorative class with Chiara Ramella again.


We have arrived in the world of hot yoga. For those of you who have seen the documentary on Netflix about Mr. Bikram, I agree with the fact that the dude is a creep but I’m only talking about the yoga styles today. Bikram yoga is a 90 min class of a set of 26 postures that are repeated twice in a room that is heated to 40 °C (105  °F) with 40% humidity. Postures are always the same and in the same order. Even the way the teachers talk, the ‘dialogue’ in the classes is the same all over the world.


  • You will work every single body part in one class.
  • You will feel like a whole different person after a class.


  • You can also feel like a very shitty new person because of dehydration.
  • There are some safty concerns
bikram yoga
Bikram yoga

My experience

The first time I went to a Bikram class I had to sit down multiple times because I felt dizzy. I didn’t know humans are able to sweat from their knees but apparently we are. I do have to say hot yoga can feel very transformative.

Hot Yoga

Mr. Bikram wasn’t a nice person so it couldn’t take long before other hot yoga styles would appear. Many studio’s changed their name to ‘The original Hot yoga’ or ‘Hot 26’ or something in that sense just to not have anything to do with the name Bikram (good on them!). These days hot yoga is becoming popular and you can find heated hatha classes, heated vinyasa classes and all kinds of variations of the original bikram sequence.


  • Added flexibility and suppleness
  • You have to focus more on your breath
  • It brings you to the present moment (it is too hot to think about anything else)


  • You have to be able to handle the heat.
  • You sweat so much, you will also loose stuff your body needs, like minerals etc.

My experience

There is just something about heat that I love. Especially living in a cold and wet country. When I am in The Netherlands in my hometown Bussum, I attend hot yoga classes regularly. But also when I am in a hot country I visit hot yoga studio’s. The extra heat during a hot yoga class gives me more focus. Afterwards I feel more clarity and very peaceful. But to be honest, after doing a 21 day hot yoga challenge I became dizzy quite quickly after just doing simple things. So if you are going to be a diehard at it, you might have to consider taking supplements to get those minerals etc. back from excessive sweating.


So which yoga should you choose? The easiest answer to that, and maybe the most annoying one is that you have to see for yourself. Even within the main yoga styles, different teachers bring different classes. You might find out that the teacher is the wrong fit, not the yoga style. As a traveling yoga teacher my style has been called different names too. Some people called my classes hatha, and other vinyasa. The main thing I would say is to think for yourself what you want to get out of the class. Hopefully this blog has given you a bit more insight in the different yoga styles. If you have any questions you can leave a comment below or just message me. Have a great week beautiful people!

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