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Different Types of Yoga Asana Explained

As a beginner it can seem very overwhelming when just starting out in the world of yoga. Yoga itself is an eightfold path & is made up of so much more than just physical movement, however here in the West we predominately think of asana (physical yoga practice) when we mention yoga. There are many different styles/ types of yoga asana & each one brings something different to the mat. Below is a list of some of the most popular types of yoga asana that you're most likely to come across at a studio or gym with a brief description to help you better understand each style so you can pick one that is best suited to your needs & preferences. I always recommend trying out several different asana styles as well as different studios/ gyms & teachers as every one will have it's own unique feel, intention, offering & atmosphere & it may take a few tries before you find exactly the right fit for you.


Vinyasa literally translated means "to place in a special way" & when taken in the context of asana practice it refers to "linking movement with the breath". In a typical vinyasa class you should expect to

find lots of flowing movements, where each pose/ posture is linked via movement to the next & where students are encouraged to sync up breath & movement. Vinyasa flow classes can vary a lot depending on the teacher & their take on each flow. Some classes may be more fast & dynamic whereas others may be slower with more focus on alignment & control. Most studios/ gyms will specify by calling classes things such as "dynamic vinyasa" or "gentle vinyasa flow" on their timetables. If they do not specify though it can be a good idea to ask the teacher/ receptionist what the pace of the class is before attending. Often vinyasa classes are open to all levels with good teachers offering options/ modifications for those who are at different stages of their yoga journeys. Again the level is normally stated on the timetable but if it isn't check ahead of time.


Restorative yoga is much slower paced than vinyasa & although there may be some elements of flow, still linking the movements with the breath, often postures are taken separately, spending longer in each one to aid relaxation & tension release whilst calming the nervous system. This is normally aided by the use of props such as straps, bricks, blocks & bolsters which aid relaxation & support the body in each posture. As this is a slower/ gentler form of asana it is well suited to beginners, people with low mobility & those recovering from injuries.

Ashtanga Vinyasa

Traditional Ashtanga Vinyasa was popularised by Sri K Pattabhi Jois. A creation of six "series" or sequences which are set & should not be deviated from. Only once you have mastered one posture to the correct intended alignment can you move on to the next. This is a far more disciplined form of yoga asana & suits those who want to perhaps dive deeper into their personal practice by practicing closer to the roots of asana, or those of a certain personality type who thrive off disciplined/ precise action. The beauty of Ashtanga & it's never changing sequence is that once you have memorised the postures, moving through each becomes a deeply medative experience as well as allowing you to easily keep track of progress in strength & flexibility as you're doing the same thing each time you practice.


Expect this style of class to be fast paced, dynamic & strengthy. Power yoga is all about working up a sweat & getting a real workout in. Ideal for those of you who want to try something different from your typical weekly workouts, power yoga is great strength training. If you're a beginner it may seem daunting to attend a power yoga class but the more regularly you attend the more you can build up that strength & endurance & I think you'll be pleasantly surprised how quickly you see improvements in these areas.


This is an extremely slow & restorative style of asana. In Yin poses are typically held anywhere between two to ten minutes each. This style of asana really works deeply through the layers of fascia (connective tissue) that surround our entire body, releasing tension, working the muscles & aiding relaxation. Muscle strength is not encouraged in Yin but rather surrendering the body, so although this may not require physical strength, mentally & emotionally Yin can pose more of a challenge. This is a great practice to do in between faster paced flow days or more intense workouts or on days when you're feeling a little low & just need to release some tension either physically or emotionally. This can be an extremely healing form of asana.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of every single type of asana out there but hopefully this has made things a little clearer for you, especially if you're just starting out & weren't sure where to begin when choosing a class to attend. Remember it's a good idea to try a few different styles & teachers out to find the best fit for you & mixing up faster more dynamic styles with slower more restorative flows in between will be the most beneficial for both your mind & body. Already have a favourite asana style? I'd love to hear about it in the comments!



Welcome to my little corner of the internet where I share all about yoga & intentional & authentic living for a healthier mind, body, soul, Earth connection.

Have a blessed day ♡

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