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The 14 Most Popular Types of Yoga—And How to Choose the Right One for You

There’s a style to fit everyone, seriously.

By Team PelotonMay 9, 2023


Whether you’ve taken a yoga class before or are new to the practice, you may not realize that there are many different types of yoga to be explored, depending on your goals. Some types of yoga are more athletic and fast-paced, while others can help you to calm down and destress. And while many types of yoga are physical, other styles lean more heavily into spirituality or breathwork. The good news is that since there are many different styles, the odds are in your favor for finding the perfect fit. 

Explore everything you need to know to select a specific type of yoga that may help you execute perfect flow and achieve your own unique goals in your practice.

Understanding the Origin of Yoga

Let’s embark on a very brief history lesson, shall we? The origins of yoga can be traced back over 5,000 years. The first mention of “yoga” appears in a collection of ancient texts known as the Rig Veda. 

The practice of yoga was an integral part of many Eastern cultures for centuries, where it was mostly popularized as a form of spirituality since it embodied a way to unify both the body and the mind. 

Later, in the mid-19th century, yoga was brought to the Western Hemisphere and Europe. Now, yoga is popularized and welcomed for its many benefits. Millions have embraced yoga as a way to combine spiritual practices and breathing control with physical postures, fitness, and increased mobility. 

One of the best parts about yoga is its accessibility: Yoga can be practiced anywhere you are, whether at home, outdoors, on vacation, or in a studio.  

Finding the Styles and Types of Yoga for You

There are a few key elements that differentiate the styles and types of yoga. 

Some aim to help seasoned and aspiring yogis alike connect with their innermost selves by cultivating the type of meditation strategies that can help block out all the noise and stress. This type of practice is less about movement and more about being still and remaining in the here and now—which, as we all know, is a huge challenge in and of itself. But with practice, it gets easier, and the benefits are numerous. 

Other types of yoga are primarily meant to help yoga practitioners become more flexible and tend to be focused on lengthening and relaxing the muscles rather than strength-building. Here, the focus is on restoring the body and mind with deep stretching instead of working up a sweat, with the goal of increasing your range of motion in the long term. 

There are also certain yoga practices, like power yoga, that are more focused on fitness (think: building strength and getting in cardio) and can truly be considered a full-body workout. In these instances, yoga is about getting your heart rate up and building endurance. 

While there are different types of yoga, you may find that most yoga classes tend to include some combination of a variety of styles, including an overarching focus on strengthening the mind-body connection. 

Is Yoga the Same as Stretching?

The short answer to this question is a resounding ‘No.’ While certain similarities between yoga and stretching exist, they tend to only slightly overlap. The goal of stretching is usually to warm your body up before a workout or to cool it down after. But, yoga isn’t something you do to prepare for a workout … yoga is the workout. 

Flexibility has many benefits, including increased flexibility, decreased risk of injury, improved muscle activation during workouts, and helping your body to warm up and cool down before and after a workout. 

During yoga, while you will stretch and elongate your muscles during your flow, you are also tapping into the mind-body connection. Yoga helps you focus on being present while holding your body in poses that challenge your muscles, increase your range of motion, support connective tissue and build endurance. It is a highly effective full-body exercise with the power to get your heart rate up, help you work up a sweat and even leave your muscles shaking.

Because there are many differences between yoga and stretching and they both have their own unique benefits, they both deserve a place in your routine. 

(For more about the differences between yoga and stretching, read what Peloton instructors have to say.) 

14 Popular Types of Yoga You Can Practice

What follows are 12 popular types of yoga you can try. As you practice any type of yoga, keep your chakras in mind. It will help you connect to your inner voice – which is your unique source of truth.

1. Hatha Yoga

Hatha yoga is probably what comes to mind when you picture a traditional yoga class. This type of yoga is slow and measured, and focuses on your breathing, deliberate movements, and asanas, or poses. In this type of yoga, you can challenge your strength, balance, and flexibility as you move through your flow—all without pushing yourself too hard or straying too far from relaxation and mindfulness. Since you’ll move at a slightly slower pace during Hatha yoga, it’s a good place to start if you consider yourself a beginner or are looking to try a more gentle flow. 

2. Vinyasa Yoga

This is a highly popular form of yoga because there are typically several different “styles” of yoga included in a Vinyasa flow, like Power, Ashtanga, and Flow. Vinyasa flows are quite different from traditional Hatha flows, as they tend to be more fast-paced and string together poses in one fluid sequence, without taking breaks between postures. There is a heavy focus on breath-to-movement synchronization, with inhale/exhale cues to be followed while you move from one pose to the next. Vinyasa yoga is very active, but there is still an internal focus, particularly before and after a flow is completed. Since this is a very “mainstream” form of yoga, you’ll find lots of Vinyasa options when booking your first class.

3. Ashtanga Yoga

If you want to use your yoga practice to squeeze in a more vigorous workout, Ashtanga yoga is for you. These yoga flows may feel a little spicy and you will get sweaty! Ashtanga yoga centers on a robust physical practice, and the poses in the flow tend to put your strength and endurance to the test. There is very energetic breathwork involved, and Ashtanga classes tend to be really fun and fast-paced challenges if you want to strengthen your mind while pushing your body a little harder and bumping up your heart rate. 

4. Prenatal Yoga & Postnatal Yoga

Chelsea Jackson Roberts practicing prenatal yoga

Prenatal yoga is essentially Hatha yoga that’s modified for people that are pregnant or recovering after giving birth. It’s gentle and emphasizes breathing and stretching that’s designed specifically for childbirth/postpartum preparation. Studies have shown that the benefits of prenatal yoga are vast. It may help reduce pelvic pain, as well as improve the mental condition and perinatal outcomes like delivery time. So many moms swear that consistently practicing yoga during their pregnancies made a huge difference in their overall health and wellbeing, during a time that is very trying on both the mind and the body.

There are also postnatal yoga classes designed for new moms that are easing back into light movement once they’ve been cleared by their doctors for postpartum exercise. Postpartum yoga techniques revealed improved calmness, reduced irritability, increased energy, and lower blood pressure. Plus, postpartum yoga is a gentle way for new moms to start reconnecting with their bodies after such a life-altering experience of carrying and delivering a baby. Always remember to check with your health practitioner to get the green light before taking a prenatal or postnatal yoga class. (Be sure to check out Peloton instructor Anna Greenberg’s Pre/Postnatal Yoga & Meditation Collection.)

5. Power Yoga

Kirra Michel practicing Power yoga

Power yoga is focused on building strength and endurance. Just know that if you book a power yoga class, you’re going to work up a sweat. Much like traditional cardio, power yoga tends to be fast-paced and there is more of an emphasis on switching poses and getting your heart rate up than the flow of poses and even the integrity of the postures. You will still be building flexibility and doing important breathwork, but the focus in power yoga is building strength and intensity with high-impact poses. Some power yoga classes even have a little bit of traditional cardio work involved. 

6. Flow Yoga

Anna Greenberg practicing Flow Yoga

If you’re looking for a more traditional, vinyasa-based yoga, flow yoga is the perfect place to start. It focuses on the connection between your breath, movement and mind – and it can be done by anyone. This type of yoga tends to move at a faster pace than Hatha yoga, and you can expect to stay in a constant flow of movements, with an emphasis on connecting those movements to your breathing. Your mind will be forced to remain focused on the here and now as you fully engage, timing every movement with inhales and exhales. 

7. Beginner Yoga

Nico Sarani practicing Beginner Yoga

Want to “test drive” yoga and see if it’s right for you? Or just want a little more explanation of how to do certain poses? Beginner yoga classes are a great place to start. The flows in beginner yoga are gentle, and tend to include some of the easier poses designed to increase strength and flexibility while reducing stress. There is usually a bit more instruction during beginner classes to ensure the poses are performed correctly and to avoid injury. The Peloton App offers a 3-week Beginner Yoga Program as well as many beginner-focused flow classes.

8. Slow Flow

Ross Rayburn practicing Slow Flow yoga

If you’re practicing slow flow yoga, you’re probably going to be moving through fewer poses than you would in a normal flow class. Slow flow typically moves at about half the usual speed. The pace of slow flow practices is meant to be meditative, with a heavy emphasis on calming the body and mind while infusing your movements with peace. Poses are held for much longer and for a certain amount of breathing cycles. In traditional flow yoga, you can expect to move with your breath, but in slow flow yoga, you’ll be holding and achieving stillness with your breath. Slow flow is also a great place to start if you’re a beginner. Read more about Peloton’s slow flow classes

9. Restorative Yoga

Kristin McGee practicing Restorative Yoga

The focus of restorative yoga is rest and relaxation. Yoga poses are held for a much longer duration, and props like yoga blocks and yoga pillows are recommended, to allow you to deepen more into your poses and encourage your body to fall into a restful state of bliss. There shouldn’t be any straining or tension. This type of yoga isn’t meant to get your heart rate up or be a traditional workout. Restorative yoga is ideal for stress relief, and it’s recommended for people with chronic injuries or wear and tear. You can also try a restorative yoga flow before bed, to get your body into a more relaxed state before sleep.

10. Yoga Conditioning

Yoga conditioning classes incorporate light weights to build your strength up for specific yoga postures. You may use light weights or other props during certain poses to challenge your body in a new way, using the added resistance, or you may use them to build certain muscle groups used frequently during yoga poses. Peloton’s Yoga Conditioning classes focus on full body, lower, body, upper body, and core. Yoga with weights is a great way to build resistance training into your weekly yoga practice.

11. Yin Yoga

Denis Morton practicing Yin Yoga

When practicing Yin yoga, you can expect to hold poses for much longer periods of time, for the purpose of stretching and lengthening your muscles, and targeting your deep connective tissues. As discomfort builds from holding poses for so long, Yin yogis are encouraged to cultivate a deep inward focus, which helps create space to tune into the mind and body. The practice of deepening into and breathing through poses for several minutes at a time helps the body and mind “unblock” and release unwanted negative energy. You can expect the postures to help you focus on releasing tight areas around the joints, like your hip flexors and spine.  

12. Chair Yoga

Aditi Shah practicing Chair Yoga

If standing and balancing postures in yoga aren’t for you, chair yoga can be done sitting on a chair, or using a chair for support. It is a gentle but still highly effective flow, perfect for beginners or for anyone that may have decreased mobility. Chair flows offer many of the same benefits as standing yoga, without the added worry that you may be causing your body too much strain. The Peloton App offers several chair classes if you want to test it out for yourself.   

13. Kundalini Yoga

If you are looking to use your yoga practice to connect with your spirituality, Kundalini yoga is a great place to start. The focus in Kundalini classes is tuning in with your inner self and hearing your own inner voice above all the noise. A Kundalini flow is more internal than external. Kundalini classes and practices typically include chanting, gentle spine exercises, guided meditation and even sometimes singing. The poses are repetitive and meant to “wake up” your spine, and there is a significant focus on breathwork for more of a tangible energy connection. If you’re looking to find your own inner voice and calm your mind, this is a great yoga mode to try out.  

14. Iyengar Yoga

In Iyengar yoga there is a heavy emphasis on the structural alignment of the body and a big focus on precision. Since there is such a heavy focus on pose integrity in Iyengar yoga, most classes encourage props like blocks, straps, and blankets for postural alignment. While there is still a focus on breathwork, there is less focus on exertion during the traditional standing, seated, and relaxation poses than you might experience in Hatha yoga. Since proper alignment is paramount and Iyengar classes move at a slow and deliberate pace, this is a great form of yoga for beginners or anyone that needs to ensure their yoga flow is a little slower or more precise. 

Yoga Styles with Peloton

The amazing takeaway here is that there are many, many types of yoga to match your personal preferences and goals. Most classes combine elements of the types of yoga discussed above.

You have an endless variety of ways to incorporate yoga into your daily life. If you’re not sure where to start, explore the yoga classes available on demand via the Peloton App.


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