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Yoga Style Definitions (Page 2)
Definitions and comparisons of 80+ yogic styles, yogic schools and traditions.

Alphabetical listings of yoga styles, yoga schools and yogic traditions:
A . B . C . D . E . F . G . H . I . J . K . L . M . N . O . P . Q . R . S . T . U . V . W . X . Y . Z

We believe that this Yoga Style Glossary is one of the largest of its kind on the net - but we're still far from done! If you'd like to suggest any improvements or styles for inclusion, please contact us: our email

G

Gentle
Gentle Yoga is a general term used to describe slower paced Hatha Yoga practice. Deep and smooth breathing is also emphasized.
Gentle Yoga has been used (where appropriate) for physical rehabilitation, arthritis, for patients confined to a bed, and for individuals with low energy levels.
Gentle Yoga is sometimes synonymous with 'Restorative Yoga'.

Gita
Gita Yoga, founded by Margrit Segesman in 1954, is a style of Hatha Yoga focused on balancing the hormone glands of the endocrine system.
Asanas based on 10 classical Hatha yoga postures are practiced in a relaxed and flowing manner. Meditation and attention to the breath are important parts of asana practice. Classes also include pranayama, relaxation, and information on yoga philosophy, nutrition and overall healthy living.
Official site: Gita International Yoga
Based out of: Australia

Please note: 'Gita Yoga' can also refer to yoga teachings derived from the Bhagavad Gita.

Gurukala
Gurukala Yoga is a traditional way of learning the Eight-Fold Path of Yoga by living in the house of a yoga master/teacher. Because this system is no longer commonly used, the International Gurukalam was created for its preservation. Yoga knowledge is now shared through the International Gurukalam's network of Yogabhavans (translation: 'yoga-houses').
Yogabhavan International Gurukalam - Based out of: Kerala, India and New York, USA

For more on the Eight-Fold Path, please see: "Ashta-anga / Ashtanga / Classical"

Gyana / Gnana
Gyana Yoga is Jnana Yoga. Please see: "Jnana / Gyana / Gnana"

H

Hasya / Laughter
Hasya Yoga, popularly known as 'Laughter Yoga', was developed in 1995 by Dr. Madan Kataria and Madhuri Kataria on the idea that laughter is the best medicine. Hasya (which means 'laughter wisdom' in Sanskrit) combines laughter, yogic breathing and stretching exercises for the purposes of improving health and promoting peace.
All laughter sessions are shaped by Dr. Kataria's discovery that laughter does need to be genuine in order to benefit the body. So instead of relying on jokes and comedy to generate laughs, laughter groups simulate laughter with energetic childlike playfulness simply for laughter's sake. Before long, the laughter usually becomes contagiously joyful and truly genuine.
Hasya Yoga may include elements of Hatha (and to some extent Bhakti) yoga, but when practiced without a spiritual focus, Hasya Yoga may be better described as a health and wellness program for mind and body.
Official site: Laughter Yoga International
Based out of: Mumbai, India

Hatha
Hatha Yoga, also called 'forceful yoga', is a physically demanding path of yoga based on body-bending yoga poses (asanas), cleansing techniques (shat karmas), breath control (pranayama), locks (bandhas) and seals (mudras). It is thought that by perfecting the body, creating a healthy physical condition, and raising Kundalini energy upwards along the spine, the body becomes better prepared for yogic awakening (Samadhi, nirvana, union with God).
Hatha Yoga also includes higher spiritual practices such as meditation. However, many yoga manuals have attributed these higher spiritual practices to 'Raja Yoga', declaring Hatha Yoga only as a 'stairway to Raja Yoga'.

Traditional Hatha Yoga consists of:
1. Asanas (postures);
2. Shat Karmas (six cleansing techniques, also known as Shat Kriyas);
3. Pranayama (control of breathing with retention);
4. Bandhas (locks) and Mudras (seals) for the regulation of Prana (life-force) and Kundalini (dormant energy); and
5. Samadhi (Union with God, realization of the Self, ecstasy, nirvana).

See also: "Raja / Classical / Ashta-anga"; Related page: Hatha Yoga

Hot
Hot Yoga is Vinyasa Hatha Yoga practiced in a heated room. Bikram Yoga is the first yoga style to popularize yoga practice in a heated room. Power Yoga is sometimes practiced in a heated room as well.
See also: "Bikram / Hot" and "Power / Power Vinyasa"

I

Integral (Sri Aurobindo and Mirra Richard)
Integral Yoga, developed by Sri Aurobindo and Mirra Richard ("the Mother", born Mirra Alfassa) in the early 1900s, is a combination of Hatha, Tantra, Raja, Jnana, Karma and Bhakti Yoga. Integral Yoga is focused on developing and transforming the entire being: Physically, Vitally, Mentally, Psychically, and Spiritually. While the aim of all yoga styles is to achieve union with God, Integral Yoga also aims to achieve realization of the Divine in the physical world through a supramental transformation of human nature.
Sri Aurobino Ashram site: Sri Aurobino Ashram
Based out of: Pondicherry, India

In the USA, Sri Aurobindo's Integral Yoga is now being practiced under the name 'Purna Yoga'.
Please see: "Purna / Poorna"

Integral (Sri Swami Satchidananda)
Integral Yoga (trademark), founded by Sri Swami Satchidananda in 1966, is a complete and flexible yoga system integrating Hatha, Raja, Bhakti, Karma, Jnana and Japa Yoga for the purpose of realizing spiritual unity with all of creation (Samadhi).
Integral Yoga is practiced by leading a natural life and caring for the human temple (hatha), gaining mastery over the mind (raja), being devoted to your chosen form of God (bhakti), living every action yogicly (karma), self-analysis meditation (jnana), and mantra repitition (japa).
Official site: Satchidananda Ashram-Yogaville
Based out of: Virginia, USA

ISHTA
ISHTA is an acronym for the 'Integrated Science of Hatha, Tantra, and Ayurveda' and the word 'Ishta' also has a Sanskrit meaning: that which resonates with the individual spirit.
ISHTA Yoga brings together the methods and practices of multiple yoga styles so that students can best personalize their yoga practices according to individual needs. Developed by Kavi Yogi Swarananda Mani Finger and his son Yogiraj Alan Finger during the 1960s, ISHTA Yoga includes the teachings of numerous Hatha yoga lineages (Kriya, Sivananda, Iyengar, etc) and Tantra yoga.
ISHTA Yoga is a complete yoga system where you tune into yourself to discover which asanas best prepare your body, which breathing and visualization exercises best still your mind, and which meditation techniques best expand your awareness. Vinyasa flow, visualization meditation, and creating balance in life are also important elements of ISHTA Yoga practice.
Official site: ISHTA Yoga
Based out of: New York, USA (originally of South Africa)

See also: "Hatha", "Tantra", "Vinyasa / Vinyasa Flow", "Sivananda / Sivananda Yoga Vedanta", "Kriya" and "Iyengar" (immediately below)

Iyengar
Iyengar Yoga, developed by Yogacharya B.K.S. Iyengar, is based on ancient Hatha Yoga teachings.
In Iyengar Yoga, precision and correct alignment is considered very important when performing the asanas. Props and supports are often used (particularly with beginners) to help achieve proper positioning. Iyengar Yoga is also known to emphasize standing poses.
Official site: B.K.S. Iyengar Yoga
Based out of: Pune, India

J

Japa
Japa Yoga is the yoga of mindful recitation. It can also be described as repetitive prayer.
In Japa Yoga, certain mantras (such as om) or a name of God are repeated in accordance with specific rules. The mantras or name of God can be repeated internally, in a whisper, or verbally. Of these three methods, internal recitation is considered the most effective, followed by recitation through whisper. Japa Yoga can be practiced in a meditative pose or even while performing other activities.
See also: "Mantra" and "Om / Aum / Om Meditation"; Related article: Japa Yoga

Jivamukti
Jivamukti Yoga is a style of Ashtanga Vinyasa Hatha Yoga, created by David Life and Sharon Gannon in 1984.
Jivumukti derives its name from 'liberation from separation' or 'liberation while living', and much emphasis is placed on living and practicing yoga philosophy in daily life. Classes are challenging and include the asanas of Hatha yoga, spiritual teachings based on ancient yoga scripture, music, chanting, devotion and meditation.
Official site: Jivamukti Yoga School
Based out of: New York, USA

See also: "Ashtanga / Ashtanga Vinyasa"

Jnana / Gyana / Gnana
Jnana Yoga (the yoga of 'Transcendental Knowledge') is devoted to knowledge of God and the Self. It is an enquiry into the ultimate Truth. While not considered the easiest path of yoga, it is a direct path to Union with God (Samadhi).
The Jnana yogi searches the Self either by concentrating on the first thought "I" until even that thought disappears or by investigating the answer to the question "Who am I?". The Self, when found, reveals It-Self always as pure Awareness.
Related page: Jnana Yoga: The Yoga of Knowledge

K

Kalari
Kalari Yoga, resurrected by C.M. Sherif Gurukkal, is based on ancient shamanic postures of Northern-style Kalarippayat. These postures are definitely not the classical asanas common throughout all Hatha yoga styles. Instead, Kalari's main postures are based on animal movements created to enhance the physical and spiritual growth of the Kalari warriors of medieval Kerala, India.
A unique feature of Kalari Yoga is its outward focus. It is believed that concentrated focus on an outside point produces the same results as concentrated focus within (the Eight-Fold Path of Ashta-anga yoga, along with all Hatha-inspired yoga styles, has an inner focus).
Kalari Yoga was almost entirely lost, but has been recreated through the efforts of C.M. Sherif Gurukkal and the deciphering of ancient Kalari manuscripts preserved on palm leaves. It only became possible to decipher the manuscripts when a small group of monks were found who practice a similar tradition.

Kalarippayat
Kalarippayat is not yoga; Kalarippayat is an ancient cultural and martial art of Kerala, India. It is only included on this list because of Kalarippayat's close relation to Kalari Yoga. Please see: "Kalari"

Kali Ray TriYoga
Kali Ray TriYoga is more simply known as 'TriYoga'. Please see: "TriYoga / TriYoga Flow"

Karma
Karma is the total sum of all our actions (mental and physical), in this life and before. Karma Yoga is the yoga of Service or self-transcending Action, whereby the yogi directs all actions towards God. By serving God and humanity (without selfishness, egoism, and attachment) the heart becomes pure, the ego fades and, over time, or even over many lifetimes, one becomes increasingly in tune and unified with God. Enlightenment (Samadhi, nirvana, union with God) is naturally realized through Karma yoga.

Kripalu
Kripalu Yoga, described as 'meditation in motion', is a style of Hatha Yoga founded by Yogi Amrit Desai ("Gurudev") based on the teachings of his Guru, Swami Kripalvananda ("Swami Kripalu", "Bapuji"). Kripalu is a registered trademark of the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health.
Kripalu Yoga combines the asanas of Hatha yoga with pranayama, meditation and compassion. The proper use of breath is considered very important. Asanas are never rushed - poses are more gentle and relaxed. Because Kripalu yoga recognizes that an individual's body and mind are naturally wise, perfection in the classical asanas is not the goal. Kripalu yogis are encouraged to become sensitive to the needs of their bodies and make asana adjustments accordingly.
Official site: Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health
Based out of: Massachusetts, USA

Since 1994, the founder Yogi Amrit Desai is no longer associated with the Kripalu Center. He has since founded the 'Amrit Yoga Institute' where he teaches 'Amrit Yoga'. Please see: "Amrit"

Kriya
Kriya Yoga, as introduced by Paramahansa Yogananda and the Kriya line of teachers, employs a mixture of Hatha, Bhakti, Karma, Mantra, and Jnana Yoga. It is distinguished by a unique technique of Kriya pranayamas for the purpose of controlling the Kundalini life-force and ultimately coaxing it to ascend.
Below are a few of the best known Kriya Yoga organizations:
   Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF), California, USA:
www.yogananda-srf.org
   Center for Spiritual Awareness (CSA), Georgia, USA: www.csa-davis.org
   Ananda Church of Self-Realization, California, USA: www.ananda.org
   Babaji's Kriya Yoga, Quebec, Canada and Bangalore, India: www.babajikriyayoga.net
   Temple of Kriya Yoga, Illinois, USA: www.yogakriya.org
Related pages: Kriya Yoga, Paramahansa Yogananda

Kunda
Kunda Yoga, founded by Sri Sutrananda, is a complete yoga system integrating Hatha, Jnana, Raja, Bhakti, Karma and Japa Yoga for the purpose of achieving Enlightenment (Samadhi, Self-Realization).
In Kunda Yoga, full-sized mirrors are used to develop concentration, focus, and to perceive auras. Asanas and pranayama (breath control) are practiced in a specific sequence - while mentally focusing on a higher chakra - to create inner balance, purify the endocrine & nervous systems, and synchronize the brain's hemispheres. The studio space is also uniquely heated to allow students to either practice 'Hot Yoga' on one side of the room or 'Cool Yoga' on the other. Self-analysis meditation (jnana), focus and mastery over the mind (raja), remembering God (bhakti), service without attachment (karma), and mantra repetition (japa) are all important elements in Kunda Yoga practice.
Official site: Sri Sutrananda
Based out of: British Columbia, Canada

See also: "Hatha", "Jnana / Gyana / Gnana", "Raja / Classical / Ashta-anga", "Bhakti", "Karma" and "Japa"

Kundalini
Kundalini Yoga is based on a tantric discipline for arousing and raising Kundalini energy upwards through the chakras. Kundalini energy, also called 'Serpent Power', is the unlimited life-force (prana) that lies dormant in the Chakras. Only through activation of the chakras can this energy be accessed. Yogic awakening is achieved when Kundalini energy is fully raised and the Crown Chakra activated.
In Kundalini Yoga, many methods are used to arouse Kundalini (including Hatha yoga asanas to straighten the spine, pranayama, mantras, and meditation).
International Kundalini Yoga Teachers Association site: 3HO IKYTA

L

Laughter
Laughter Yoga is 'Hasya Yoga'. Please see: "Hasya / Laughter"

Laya
Laya yoga is the yoga of meditative absorption. It uses pranayama, mudras, yantras, mantras, sound and visualization to arouse Kundalini, dissolve the mind, and achieve yogic awakening (Samadhi, nirvana, union with God).

Loknath
Loknath Yoga, developed by Sri Baba Loknath Brahmachari (1730-1890), is a complete yoga system based on the Eight-Fold Path of Ashta-anga yoga for the purpose of achieving Samadhi (realization of God). Since 1981, Loknath Yoga has been further taught and developed through the Sri Sri Baba Loknath Brahmachari Mahamandal Ashram under the guidance of Sri Janakinath Bramachari.
In Loknath Yoga, asanas are held for longer stretches of time with a period of rest following each pose. Pranayama (yogic breathing), mudras, bandas (locks), kriyas, concentration techniques to control the restless mind, mantra recitation, meditation, self-study (gyana / jnana) and a yogic diet are all important components in Loknath Yoga practice.
Loknath Yoga is also used therapeutically to restore health by balancing the 5 basic elements and the chakras.
Official site: Loknath Yoga
Based out of: Kolkata, India

For more on the Eight-Fold Path, please see: "Ashta-anga / Ashtanga / Classical"

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Disclaimer: All style definitions listed in this glossary are unofficial unless clearly stated otherwise. Although this glossary of Yoga Styles connects to several specific yoga schools and yoga instructors, Zentrum Publishing does not endorse any particular yoga school or yoga instructor. This glossary (with its share of unintended mistakes and inaccuracies) is meant only as quick-reference for making some sense of the tremendous abundance of yoga styles available today.
Although it is the author's belief that any yoga style practiced for non-spiritual reasons is just Not Yoga, the author doesn't wish to diminish the value of any yoga style developed or practiced for other terrific reasons: rehabilitation, health, fitness, fun, etc.