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Yoga Style Definitions (Page 3)
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

M

Maha
All yogic paths and traditions seek the same goal - Union with God (Enlightenment, Nirvana, Samadhi, Self-Realization). Maha Yoga is the natural union and culmination of 4 main yoga paths, and for this reason it is called the 'Great Yoga', the 'Supreme Yoga'. Maha Yoga was first described in the ancient 'Yoga-Shikha-Upanishad'.
The yogi practices and attains Maha Yoga in the following yoga sequence:
       1. Mantra (repetition of sounds to focus the mind)
       2. Hatha (physical perfection, raising of Kundalini)
       3. Laya (meditation to dissolve the mind)
       4. Raja (highest spiritual practices)

Because Tantra Yoga is also considered a 'complete yoga system', it likewise can be described as 'Maha Yoga'. See also: "Tantra"

Mahayoga, Buddhist
Mahayoga or 'Mahayoga-pana' is the first inner tantra (spiritual path, pana) in Tibetan Buddhism. It involves 'generation', the practice of stabilizing detailed internal visualizations. Mahayoga is also concerned with the removal of aggression.
Mahayoga is followed by the two other inner tantras of Anuyoga and Atiyoga.
See also: "Anuyoga, Buddhist" and "Atiyoga, Buddhist"

Mantra
Mantra Yoga uses repetitive sound to bind the mind to one thought until the restless mind is dissolved. Mantra Yoga is an excellent yoga for those who find it difficult (whether due to age or affliction) to practice yoga styles which demand more time, devotion, and/or physical strength and flexibility.
See also: "Om / Aum / Om Meditation"; Related page: Mantra Yoga

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Mysore Ashtanga
Mysore Ashtanga Yoga is 'Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga' as taught by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois at his school in Mysore, India.
Please see: "Ashtanga / Ashtanga Vinyasa"

N

Nada
Nada Yoga is the yoga of inner sounds. In Nada Yoga, the yogi places a thumb against each ear and carefully listens to a specific chakra-generated sound that can be heard in the ears. By concentrating on this inner vibration, it becomes possible to enter a higher state of meditation. Additionally, Nada yogis may vocalize/hum seven specific sounds to activate the seven chakras.

Natya / Dance
Natya Yoga is devotion through dance, and is form of Bhakti and Karma Yoga. Natya Yoga also includes some classical asanas of Hatha yoga, pranayamas, mudras, meditation and Carnatic music.
Those unfamiliar with Natya may wonder how these traditional Indian dances can be called yoga. But upon closer examination, it becomes clear that Natya dancing is firmly rooted in yoga principles. Natya yogis dance not for themselves, but entirely for God. Learning the highly complex dance, in every movement and sound, is a sacrifice made in devotion to God. Concentrated visualizations are used to internalize the dance. The enactment of Natya songs requires mastery of emotion. Even the applause at the end of a performance must not be enjoyed; instead, the dancers must strive to maintain absolute indifference. Complete devotion and service to God - without feeling attachment - is a combined practice of Bhakti and Karma yoga.

Nia
Nia is not yoga; Nia (trademark) is a body-mind-spirit fitness program created by Debbie and Carlos Rosas. The focus of Nia is to find health - and experience joy - through movement. Classes are essentially non-impact aerobic routines accompanied by music. Nia's repertoire of moves originates from T'ai Chi, Tae Kwon Do, Aikido, Jazz Dance, Modern Dance, Duncan Dance, the Teachings of Moshe Feldenkrais, the Alexander Technique, and Yoga (asanas).
Official site: Nia
Based out of: Oregon, USA

Nidra
Sometimes Yoga Nidra is inaccurately used to describe a variety of relaxation practices. However, to properly practice traditional Yoga Nidra ('Yogic Sleep') the empty mind must enter a state of conscious deep sleep (also called the 'Forth State'). One is fully aware of one's own pure Awareness but nothing else. There are no thoughts and no worldly impressions. Upon waking, one may return fully rested and restored in many ways, although Nidra Yoga does not replace the need for real sleep.

O

Oki-Do
Oki-Do Yoga, created by Masahiro Oki for practical application to daily life, is a combination of Hatha Yoga (asana and pranayama), Zen meditation, Tao, Meridian-based energy medicines (Shiatsu) and martial arts. Oki-Do Yoga is focused on reconnecting with the inner life-force.
A unique feature of Oki-Do Yoga is that asanas are often practiced in paired groups. The purpose of this is two-fold: to provide extra physical support and to develop co-operative harmony between individuals. Joy, laughter and games are used to create a supportive atmosphere and to remove individual self-doubts and negative thinking. Health and balance for all parts of body and mind are emphasized. Classes also include (depending on the teacher) varying degrees of meditation, stretching, Eastern healing and purification exercises, breathing exercises, chanting, relaxation and information on yoga philosophy, nutrition and overall healthy living.
Based out of: Japan
Below are some of the best known centers for Oki-Do Yoga:
   Foundation Okido Dojo Holland, The Netherlands:
www.okidoyoga.nl
   Libera Università Oki do® Mikkyò Yoga, Italy: www.okido.it

Om / Aum / Om Meditation
According to the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita of Hindu and Buddhist yogic scripture, OM is the First Word: the sound manifestation of God (the Supreme Brahman) out of which the universe was created. The entire universe vibrates to OM. By vibrating with OM, it is believed that one can become increasingly in tune with God. Yogic awakening (Samadhi, union with God) is achieved by following the sound of OM to the source.
Om Yoga is purely and simply practiced through meditation. One common method is to chant, intone or mentally sing OM as a mantra until it is fully internalized. Another method involves recognizing and hearing the natural OM sound within. Om Yoga is an excellent yoga for those who find it difficult to practice yoga styles which demand physical strength and flexibility.
See also: "Japa" and "Mantra"

OM
OM Yoga, founded by Cyndi Lee in 1998, is a style of Vinyasa Hatha Yoga infused with Buddhist philosophy.
Asanas are practiced in a flowing manner, with a strong emphasis on good form and proper alignment similar to Iyengar yoga. Meditation guided by the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism is also an important element in OM Yoga practice.
Official site: OM Yoga Center
Based out of: New York, USA

See also: "Vinyasa / Vinyasa Flow" and "Iyengar"

P

Pancadasha-anga / Pancadashanga
Pancadasha-anga Yoga is the Fifteen-Fold Path of Yoga taught in the 'Tejo-Bindu-Upanishad'.

The Fifteen -Fold Path / The Fifteen Limbs:
1. Yama (moral discipline)
2. Niyama (self-restraint)
3. Tyaga (abandonment, renunciation)
4. Mauna (silence)
5. Desha (place)
6. Kala (time)
7. Asana (posture)
8. Mula-bandha (root lock)
9. Deha-samya (body equilibrium)
10. Drik-sthiti (steadiness of vision)
11. Pranayama / Prana-samyamana / Prana-samrodha (breath control)
12. Pratyahara (sense withdrawal)
13. Dharana (concentration)
14. Atma-dhyana (meditation on the Self)
15. Samadhi (Union with God)

ParaYoga
ParaYoga (registered mark), founded by Yogarupa Rod Stryker, is a complete yoga system based on the spiritual tradition of the Vedas and the right-hand path of Tantra. Para means 'supreme' in Sanskrit, and ParaYoga aims to attract and create (through the culmination of effort and excellence) a life of supreme success and happiness. This is accomplished when Smarana - full remembrance of our inherent wholeness - is achieved. ParaYoga includes a full spectrum of yogic techniques and teachings (asana, pranayama, bandha, mudra, kriya, mantra, kundalini, visualization, meditation, chanting, etc) which are often personalized according to the individual needs of the student.
In ParaYoga, asanas are carefully sequenced (vinyasa krama) to remove obstructions and unlock the vibrant internal force (tajas). By mastering this internal flow of energy, it is taught that we also gain mastery over the forces out in the world, and thus attract experiences and conditions helpful for our spiritual growth, happiness and success.
Official site: Rod Stryker's ParaYoga
Based out of: USA

Rod Stryker is a teacher in the lineage of Sri Swami Rama of the Himalayas. More information on Swami Rama and the tradition of the Himalayan sages can be found at the Himalayan Institute in Pennsylvania, USA.
Official site: Himalayan Institute

See also: "Hatha", "Tantra (right-hand path: dakshina-marga)" and "Vedic"

Patanjali Ashtanga
Patanjali Ashtanga Yoga is Asta-anga Yoga. It is also called 'Ashtanga', 'Astaunga', 'Classical' and 'Raja'.
Please see: "Ashta-anga / Ashtanga / Classical"

Power / Power Vinyasa
Power Yoga is not just one style of yoga, but many styles, all of which can be described as styles of Vinyasa Hatha Yoga. In general, Power Yoga is vigorous and physically demanding, and it is often taught in a heated room (Hot Yoga).
Power Yoga classes differ greatly from one yoga studio to the next, so it is important to check with your local yoga studio for detailed class descriptions. While some classes focus on strength and flexibility training primarily for the body, other classes have a greater spiritual connection and focus on creating harmony, vitality and freedom for both body and mind.
Here is just a short list of some styles of Power Yoga:
   Baptiste Power Yoga, USA:
www.baronbaptiste.com
   Beryl Bender Birch, USA: www.power-yoga.com
   Bryan Kest's Power Yoga, USA: www.poweryoga.com
   CorePower Yoga, USA: www.corepoweryoga.com
   Sunstone Yoga (franchise), USA: www.sunstoneyoga.com

See also: "Ashtanga / Ashtanga Vinyasa" and "Vinyasa / Vinyasa Flow"

Prana Flow / Prana Vinyasa Flow
Prana Flow Yoga, developed by Shiva Rea, is a very energetic Vinyasa Hatha Yoga system.
Asanas, chanting, music, movement meditations, mudras and meditation are used to cultivate the flow of prana ('life-energy').
Official site: Shiva Rea
Based out of: California, USA

See also: "Vinyasa / Vinyasa Flow"

Pranava
Pranava means 'humming' or 'giver/controller of prana life-force' in Sanskrit; pranava represents the primordial sound OM: the vibration of the universe - the sound manifestation of God - the sound of the soundless Absolute.
Pranava Yoga is more simply known as 'Om Yoga'. Please see: "Om / Aum / Om Meditation"

Prenatal
Prenatal Yoga is a general term used to describe Hatha Yoga which is practiced in a way most suitable for pregnancy. It is intended to reduce the discomforts of pregnancy and prepare the mother, physically and emotionally, for labour and motherhood.
Special attention and care must be taken when practicing yoga while pregnant. Always inform your yoga instructor (applies to all yoga styles and levels) at the earliest point in your pregnancy, as there are many guidelines (safe rules) for practicing asanas while pregnant.
Some examples of Prenatal Yoga guidelines: Pregnant women should avoid inverted poses; Caution should be taken against the false sense of flexibility which may come with pregnancy; etc.
Meditation, relaxation, and deep breathing exercises (such as the ujjayi technique) are also very important components of Prenatal Yoga.

Purna / Poorna
Purna Yoga, founded by Aadil Palkhivala and Mirra, is firmly based on the Integral Yoga teachings of Sri Aurobindo and Mirra Richard ("The Mother").
Purna Yoga combines the asanas of Hatha yoga along with meditation, pranayama, nutrition and overall healthy 'yogic living'. Practitioners of Purna Yoga live it from the heart.
Official sites: Purna Yoga Foundation , Home of Purna Yoga
Based out of: Washington, USA

See also: "Integral (Sri Aurobindo and Mirra Richard)"

R

Raja / Classical / Ashta-anga
Raja Yoga is an ancient spiritual meditative practice used to follow and complete the Eight-Fold Path of yoga as taught by Patanjali and the 'Yoga Sutra'. Yogis often turn to Raja Yoga after other yogas (namely Hatha) have prepared the body for yogic awakening (Samadhi, nirvana, union with God).

The Eight-Fold Path / The Eight Limbs:
Yama (moral observance); Niyama (self-restraint); Asana (posture); Pranayama (breath control); Pratyahara (sensory inhibition); Dharana (concentration); Dhyana (meditation); and Samadhi (ecstasy / nirvana).

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

Rajadhiraja
Rajadhiraja Yoga, like Raja Yoga, follows the Eight-Fold Path of Ashta-anga. The great difference between these two yoga styles is that Rajadhiraja Yoga is said to include additional ancient Ashta-anga techniques and beliefs disregarded by Raja Yoga.
Some examples: Rajadhiraja Yoga includes additional mantras; Rajadhiraja Yoga teaches to breathe through the left nostril while practicing asanas; and Rajadhiraja Yoga includes specific exercises such as the Tandava for men and the Kaoshikii (a recent innovation) for women.
See also: "Ashta-anga / Ashtanga / Classical" and "Raja / Classical / Ashta-anga"

Red Tantra / Vama Marga
Red Tantra is the left-hand path of Tantra Yoga. It follows a sexualized path of devotion. An important element in Red Tantra is the use of Tantric Sex to open dormant energy centers. Yogic awakening is achieved through deepening orgasm.
Certain Vama Marga practices are very controversial, especially the 'panca-tattva' initiation ceremony where a man and woman have ritual sex in front of, and surrounded by, other initiates and the yoga teacher.
See also: "Tantra"

Restorative / Gentle
Restorative Yoga is a general term for slower paced gentle Hatha Yoga practice. It is intended for those recovering from physical or emotional illness or injury.
The focus of asana practice is to improve overall health; therefore, asanas are practiced very slowly and with the use of supports and props. Restorative Yoga also includes meditative relaxation exercises.
Restorative Yoga is sometimes synonymous with 'Gentle Yoga'.

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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.