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Yoga Style Definitions (Page 4)
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

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Samatva
Samatva Yoga, created by Karen Prior, draws on the Hatha Yoga styles of Iyengar, Ashtanga, Kripalu and Integral Yoga. Samatva Yoga is focused on developing inner harmony and balance.
Official site: N2Yoga
Based out of: Oklahoma, USA

See also: "Hatha", "Iyengar", "Ashtanga / Ashtanga Vinyasa", "Kripalu" and "Integral"

Sampoorna
Sampoorna Yoga is a complete Hatha Yoga system, founded by Shri Yogi Hari.
In addition to the classical asanas, which are practiced in rhythm to the breath, Sampoorna Yoga places a strong emphasis on the spiritual practices of Hatha yoga. Through cleansing the astral body, one gains access to the 'casual body' (God, bliss, nirvana).

Definition provided by Yogi Hari's Ashram:
Sampoorna Yoga is the fruit of Yogi Hari's tireless striving for perfection in his practice and teaching. It is the yoga of fullness that intelligently integrates Hatha, Raja, Karma, Bhakti, Jnana and Nada Yoga to purify and harmonize all aspects of the human personality so that the light of the soul shines forth in its divine splendour. His approach is deep, simple and practical and helps people from every background to live a richer, happier life based on lasting yogic values. The basic teaching is that health, peace and joy are already within you. They are your birthright. Sampoorna Yoga can help you to uncover them.
Official site: Sri Yogi Hari's Ashram
Based out of: Florida, USA

Sapta
Sapta Yoga (trademark), founded by Yogacharya Dr. Sushil Bhattacharya, is a Yoga based on the Seven-Fold Path of Sapta-anga Yoga. Sapta Yoga can also be considered a style of Hatha Yoga.
Official site: Sapta Yoga International
Based out of: Nepal and Switzerland

See also: "Sapta-anga / Saptanga / Sapta-Sadhana" (immediately below)

Sapta-anga / Saptanga / Sapta-Sadhana
Sapta-anga Yoga is the Seven-Fold Path of Yoga taught in the 'Gheranda-Samhita'.

The Seven-Fold Path / The Seven Limbs:
1. Shat-karma (six purification exercises); Shodhana (cleanliness)
2. Asana (posture); Dridhata (firmness)
3. Mudra (seal); Sthairya (stability)
4. Pratyahara (sense withdrawal); Dhairya (constancy, calmness)
5. Pranayama (breath control); Laghava (lightness)
6. Dyhana (meditation); Pratyaksha (perception of Self)
7. Samadhi (Union with God); Nirlipta (nondefilement)

Note: All of the above disciplines are listed in twos because there are two differing versions of the Seven-Fold Path. These versions do not actually contradict each other, as the first discipline in each set (most often) is used to create the condition of the other.

Saraswati
Saraswati (Sarasvati) is a highly worshipped goddess in the Hindu trinity of female goddesses, named after the ancient Indian Sarasvati river. She is the goddess of learning, knowledge, creativity and fine arts and is the mother of the Vedas (ancient Hindu scriptures). Saraswati is also associated with the region of Kashmir, which is where she lived.

Saraswati Yoga is not a standard yoga style, but is sometimes used to refer to the teachings of the Kashmir Shaivism lineage, particulary Saraswati River Yoga founded by Parvathi Nanda Nath Saraswati (official site: www.saraswatiriveryoga.com).
Below are some of the other best known Kashmir Shaivism yogis of modern times:
   Swami Vivekananda Saraswati (Agama Yoga: www.agamayoga.com)
   Swami Shankarananda Saraswati (please see: "Shiva (Kashmir Shaivism)")

Satyananda / Bihar
Satyananda Yoga is a rich mixture of Jnana, Raja, Bhakti, Karma, Hatha, Nidra, Mantra and Tantra Yoga and is taught through the Bihar School of Yoga (BYS), founded by Swami Satyananda Saraswati ("Swami Satyananda", "Paramahamsa Satyananda"). The Bihar School of Yoga is the world's first yoga university.
Many of Swami Satyanada's teachings are based on those of his Guru, Swami Sivananda Saraswati ("Swami Sivananda"). These teachings continue to be taught through Swami Satyanada's many disciples, one of which is Swami Niranjananda Saraswati ("Swami Niranjananda", "Paramahamsa Niranjananda"). Swami Niranjananda has since founded the Bihar Yoga Bharati (BYB) school of yoga.
In Satyananda Yoga, students are taught in a traditional manner. There is a strong emphasis on the importance of Sanyas (work and service for others). Asanas are also practiced with the eyes closed to draw focus inwards.
Official site: Bihar Yoga
Based out of: Bihar, India

Scaravelli
Scaravelli Yoga is a very gentle style of Hatha Yoga based on the teachings of Vanda Scaravelli, particularly her discovery that when one's body is well balanced by gravity, the breath naturally flows along the spine like a wave, awakening and elongating it. Scaravelli Yoga also shares close similarities with Iyengar and Viniyoga, since Vanda Scaravelli was herself taught and inspired by B.K.S. Iyengar and T.K.V. Desikachar.
Asanas are practiced with gravity (never against it) and from an inner intelligence: students are encouraged to be still - to hear and feel the breath's inner movement - and follow the body's direction and guidance. Emphasis is placed on poses for the spine, and it is important that all movements remain effortless and light to best remove outer tensions.

For more on the teachings of B.K.S. Iyengar, please see: "Iyengar"
For more on the teachings of T.K.V. Desikachar, please see: "Viniyoga"

Shad-anga / Shadanga
Sapta-anga Yoga is the Six-Fold Path of Yoga taught in the 'Maitrayaniya-Upanishad'.

The Six-Fold Path / The Six Limbs:
1. Pranayama (breath control)
2. Pratyahara (sense withdrawal)
3. Dyhana (meditation)
4. Dharana (concentration)
5. Tarka (examination)
6. Samadhi (Union with God)

Shanti
Shanti Yoga (trademark), created by Shanti Gowans, follows the Eight-Fold Path of Ashta-anga. Shanti (which means 'inner peace' in Sanskrit) is an integrated mixture of Hatha, Tantra, Karma, Raja, Jnana, and Bhakti Yoga and includes supportive teachings from numerous world philosophies and religions.
Asanas are practiced in a gentle manner to gradually work and strengthen the body. Slow deep breathing, mindful movements and meditation exercises are emphasized to still the mind.
Official site: Shanti Yoga
Based out of: Australia

For more on the Eight-Fold Path, please see: "Ashta-anga / Ashtanga / Classical"
See also: "Hatha", "Tantra", "Karma", "Raja / Classical / Ashta-anga", "Jnana / Gyana / Gnana" and "Bhakti"

Shiva
Shiva Yoga (named after the Lord Shiva for his third eye) is devoted to the activation of the Third Eye. For this to occur, it is first necessary to develop and activate the pituitary gland (sixth chakra) and the dormant pineal gland (seventh chakra). When both chakras are fully activated, it becomes possible for their vibrations to fuse together and open the Third Eye.
The Shiva yogi seeks to activate the higher chakras by gazing on a point of light reflected in an Ishtalinga (small slate stone held in the hand). Sometimes a specific mantra is also used to assist in chakra activation.
The world's foremost teacher of Shiva Yoga is His Holiness Mahatapasvi Shri Kumarswamiji based out of Karnataka, India.
Kumarswamiji's official site: Shivayoga.net

Shiva (Kashmir Shaivism)
Shiva Yoga (devoted to Lord Shiva, destroyer of ignorance and suffering) is based on the ancient yoga of Kashmir Shaivism. Although founded by Swami Shankarananda ("Swamiji") in 1991, these teachings have been transferred between teachers for generations, being passed to Swamiji through his guru Swami Muktananda.
Shiva Yoga is focused on inner transformation through meditation and self-enquiry. Emphasis is also placed on living and practicing yoga philosophy in daily life. Additionally, it is said that Swamiji has the ability to perform Shaktipat (Kundalini awakening) initiations for devotees.
Official site: Shiva Yoga
Based out of: Australia

For more on the teachings of Swami Muktananda, please see: "Siddha" (immediately below)
For more on Shaktipat initiations, please see: "Siddha Maha / Siddha"

Siddha
Siddha Yoga (registered service mark) is a religious movement founded by Swami Muktananda ("Baba") and guided by Gurumayi Chidvilasananda. Siddha Yoga is based on the ancient yoga of Kashmir Shaivism and consists of: meditation, chanting, self-less service, and the giving of generous gifts to the Guru and movement.
Official site: Siddha Yoga Path
Based out of: New York, USA

The Siddha Yoga movement is controversial, and there is even a support group for individuals who have left or who are thinking of leaving Siddha Yoga.
Support group site: Leaving Siddha Yoga

Siddha Maha / Siddha
Siddha Maha Yoga is an ancient yoga style focused on activating the dormant life-force energy of Kundalini. However, instead of activating Kundalini through individual effort, Siddha devotees receive spontaneous Kundalini awakening through the grace of an Enlightened Siddha Guru. This initiation process is known as 'Shaktipat' and is performed simply through a word, touch or thought between Guru and Devotee. The flow of Kundalini is often accompanied by spontaneous and automatic body movements (kriyas) as the life-force energy systematically removes tensions, ailments and energy blockages throughout the body.
Siddha Mahayoga literally translates to 'Enlightened Great Yoga'.

Because of the close relationship between Guru and Devotee, it is especially important to choose a Guru with great care. Classical yoga texts (such as the 'Kularnava Tantra') state that a true Guru must possess all of the following qualities:
       A high degree of Enlightenment, in uninterrupted Union with God;
       The ability to perform Shaktipat;
       Knowledge in the yoga path, a good guide; and
       Behaviour which reflects the state of Enlightenment.

See also: "Kundalini"

Sivananda / Sivananda Yoga Vedanta
Sivananda Yoga is based on the Hatha Yoga teachings of Swami Sivananda Saraswati and his disciple, Swami Vishnu-devananda. Sivananda Yoga focuses on the health of mind and body, as well as on spiritual development.
The philosophy of Sivananda Yoga is summarized in its 'Five Points of Yoga':
       Proper exercise (asanas);
       Proper breathing (pranayama);
       Proper relaxation (savasana);
       Proper diet (vegetarianism); and
       Positive thinking (Vedanta) and Meditation (Dhyana).
Official site: International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres
Based out of: Quebec, Canada (originating out of Rishikesh, India)

Soham Classic
Soham Classic Yoga, developed by Dr. Soham John and the Soham Yoga research wing, is a style of Hatha Yoga specifically designed to address modern health problems, as well as to be easily learned and adopted as a life-style.
Asanas are practiced in relaxed sequences drawing on 36 classical Hatha yoga postures. Emphasis is also placed on pranayama, meditation and many additional yoga techniques.
Official site: Soham Yoga Centre
Based out of: Bangalore, India

Somatic
Somatic Yoga, created by Eleanor Criswell Hanna, is a style of Hatha Yoga practiced from an understanding of somatic (mind-body integration) psychology. According to Hanna Somatics, flexibility is a natural condition irregardless of age; stiffness is a result of habitual muscular contractions unconsciously triggered by life's unending stream of stresses. By re-educating the mind to release and relax affected muscles, flexibility can be reclaimed.
Asanas and Somatic movement exercises are practiced slowly, gently, and with the least possible effort. The key to re-training the brain towards releasing chronic muscular tensions is to move with conscious body awareness (being attentive to the internal sensations of movement). Visualization, meditation, breathing and relaxation exercises are also important elements in Somatic Yoga practice.
Official site, Novato Institute for Somatic Research and Training: Somatics Educational Resources
Based out of: California, USA

Note: Hanna Somatics and Somatic Exercises (trademark) are also used solely for physical therapy, unrelated to yoga.

Somayog
Somayog, developed by Danielle Munuz ("Deep Priya") at the IMI, is based on ancient Hatha Yoga teachings and the modern movement therapies of Hanna Somatics, Moshe Feldenkrais, the Alexander Technique and the Robin McKenzie Method. Somayog is a very gentle style of yoga focused on strengthening the body (particularly the spine/back) and on reconnecting with the inner life-force.
Classes feature slow & repetitive movements, meditation, relaxation, efficient breathing and (depending on the teacher) information on yoga philosophy, nutrition and healthy living.
International Meditation Institute (IMI) site: IMI
Based out of: Kullu, India

Susan Randall ("Mukti Priya") teaches in the Somayog tradition in Quebec & Ontario, Canada.
Official site: Your Lifestyle Center

For more on Hanna Somatics, please see: "Somatic"

Subtle (Kristine Kaoverii Weber)
Subtle Yoga (trademark), developed by Kristine Kaoverii Weber, is a therapeutic style of Hatha Yoga focused on balancing the body's systems, chakras and emotions. A strong emphasis is placed on self-development, inner transformation and the spiritual aspects of traditional yoga.
Asanas are repetitively practiced in a gentle manner, suitable for a wide range of bodies and abilities. Special attention is taken to correct poor movement patterns that may be causing bad posture and discomfort. Breathing exercises, meditation, and the deeper teachings of yogic philosophy are also included in Subtle Yoga classes.
Official site, Asheville Yoga Teacher Training: Subtle Yoga
Based out of: North Carolina, USA

Subtle (Mika Hadar)
Subtle Yoga and Subtle Yoga Therapy, developed by Mika Hadar, are a combination of Hatha Yoga exercises and the Alexander Technique (a movement therapy). Subtle Yoga is focused on tapping into and experiencing the flow of energy within the body and aura system.
Classes are both gentle and intense. Mindfulness and the development of calmness and steadiness are emphasized.
Official site, Mika Studio: Subtle Yoga with Mika Hadar
Based out of: London, UK

Please note: Subtle Yoga can also refer to the Yogic Sukshma Vyayamaa exercises, since these exercises are meant for subtle body (sukshma sarira).

Supramental
Supramental refers to the realization of the supermind (eternal truth-consciousness beyond mind) and the evolutionary leap in human nature and consciousness expected to occur as the souls of humanity rise up to God and the Godhead descends for embodiment in nature.
Supramental Yoga is described in the Integral Yoga teachings of Sri Aurobindo.
Please see: "Integral (Sri Aurobindo and Mirra Richard)"

Svaroopa
Svaroopa (registered mark) Yoga, developed by Rama Berch, is a style of Hatha Yoga focused on opening the spine.
By relieving deep tensions through the practice of specific Hatha yoga asanas, the spine is opened and an inner transformation is jumpstarted.
Official site: Master Yoga Foundation
Based out of: Pennsylvania, USA

Svastha / Svastha Yoga Ayurveda
Svastha Yoga is a style of Hatha Yoga founded by A.G. and Indra Mohan and based on the teachings of their Guru, Sri. T. Krishnamacharya.
Svastha Yoga emphasizes health and balance, and includes the study of Ayurveda (traditional and holistic medicine system of India). In keeping with the teachings of Sri. T. Krishnamacharya, asana practice is very adaptive to the needs of the individual student.
Official site: Svastha Yoga and Ayurveda
Based out of: Chennai, India

For more on the teachings of Sri. T. Krishnamacharya, please see: "Viniyoga"

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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.