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
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Tantra Yoga is a complete yoga system based on ancient Hindu scriptures called 'Tantras'. It can be considered an alternative yoga system that runs in parallel to the Vedic system of yoga.
(Vedic-yoga is based on the ancient Hindu scriptures called the 'Vedas', Hindu literature called 'Upanishads', and the 'Yoga Sutra' of Patanjali.)
Tantra Yoga and Vedic-yoga often crossed paths during their development, creating the condition of two systems and philosophies mirroring each other. Specific yoga practices and techniques have also flowed between the two.
A unique aspect of Tantra Yoga is that is has a more feminine view of the universe, whereas Vedic-yogas have a more masculine view. However, both yogic systems acknowledge the value of both the masculine and feminine.
There exist three different approaches or branches of Tantra Yoga:
1. Dakshina-marga / Dakshina Marga / White Tantra
Dakshina-marga (the right-hand path) follows an ascetic path of knowledge, devotion and worship. Increased awareness is achieved by increasing the flow of energy (kundalini) and clearing the subconscious. Celibacy is used to prevent energy loss.
2. Vama-marga / Vama Marga / Red Tantra
Vama-marga (the left-hand path) follows a sexualized path of devotion. An important element in Vama-marga 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.
Kula-marga (the path of the Kaula sect) follows a path similar to Kundalini Yoga.
Please note: The above description is for the Hindu Tantra. There exists another system of Tantra in Buddhism.
Transcendental Meditation / TM
Transcendental Meditation (trademark) is a style of Mantra Yoga introduced by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1958. Mantra repetition is used during meditation to effortlessly still the mind by binding it to one thought. Over time, even the single thought of the mantra can be transcended to achieve and experience a state of 'transcendental Being'.
TM is typically practiced in two 20 minute sessions per day, morning and evening, while sitting comfortably with the eyes closed. Unlike many other meditation techniques, TM does not involve focused concentration or contemplation. TM is also suitable for persons of all physical abilities.
Sasha A. Ruzicka, a long-time teacher of TM, describes Transcendental Meditation as follows:
Maharishi's Transcendental Meditation is a simple, natural, effortless procedure whereby the mind easily and naturally arrives at the source of all thought, the settled state of mind - Transcendental Consciousness or Pure Consciousness, Self-referring Consciousness - which is the source of all creative processes. This process can be likened to a river which naturally and effortlessly flows into the ocean and gains the status of the ocean. TM is practiced for 20 min. in the morning and evening, while sitting comfortably with the eyes closed.
The Transcendental Meditation technique is officially taught - in person - by certified teachers of the Transcendental Meditation program.
Official site (world-wide): The Transcendental Meditation (TM) Program
Maharishi Invincibility Centres in Canada: www.maharishi.ca
See also: "Mantra" and "Japa"; Related page: Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
TriYoga / TriYoga Flow
TriYoga (trademark), founded by Kali Ray ("Kaliji"), is a Kundalini-inspired Vinyasa Hatha Yoga system harmonizing the movement of body (asana) with the trinity of breathing (pranayama), concentration (dharana) and focus (mudra).
TriYoga is uniquely distinguished by its dance-like 4-directional circular movements, spinal-waves, and side-rolls which were intuitively realized by Kali Ray during meditation. Asanas are practiced in a relaxed and flowing manner, and props and supports are sometimes used (particularly with beginners) to help achieve proper positioning and comfort. Meditation, rhythmic breathing, pranayama (breath control), mudras (specific hand gestures to focus the mind), and music are all important elements in TriYoga practice.
Official sites: www.triyoga.com , www.kaliraytriyoga.com
Based out of: California, USA
See also: "Kundalini" and "Vinyasa / Vinyasa Flow"
Vedic Yoga is not a yoga style; it is a category of Yogas based on the ancient Hindu scriptures called the 'Vedas', Hindu literature called 'Upanishads', and Patanjali's 'Yoga Sutra' compilation of existing teachings.
Examples: Ashta-anga, Hatha and Raja Yoga.
Viniyoga is a popular term used to describe the Hatha style of yoga as taught by Sri. T. Krishnamacharya and his son T.K.V. Desikachar, although Desikachar is not in support of this term (nor any other term which brands his teachings).
Viniyoga is a gentler form of Hatha yoga, very adaptive to the needs of individual students, so much so that Viniyoga is often taught one-on-one. Emphasis is placed on proper alignment and stretching of the spine; full extension of legs and arms in asanas is not as important. Asana movements are in meaningful sequences and led by the breath. Spiritual practice is considered very important, and Viniyoga classes often include chanting and meditation.
Definition provided by Yogatones:
Viniyoga is essentially the adaptation of yoga to the individual rather than the individual to yoga. This tradition is based on principles practised and taught by renowned Shr T Krishnamacharya. The practice focuses on combining correct breathing with both dynamic and static asanas. The asanas are modified, varied and adapted according to each student's particular circumstances and individual requirements.
The practice can also include pranayama, sound or mantra, where appropriate. The aim is to bring about a balance or reintegration of body, breath and mind. For this reason the classes are either on a one to one basis or small groups. AG Mohan, TKV Desikachar, and Gary Kraftsow are the most well known teachers of this method in the West.
Vinyasa / Vinyasa Flow
(Includes all styles that are indicated as 'Vinyasa Hatha Yoga' in this glossary)
Vinyasa is the term used to describe yoga which flows between asanas in a controlled system of breath and movement. Since there is only one breath per movement, Vinyasa Yoga is quite vigorous and challenging.
Vinyasa Yoga is 'Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga' (an ancient form of Hatha yoga). However, by dropping 'Ashtanga' from the name, some Vinyasa-based yoga styles may be declaring themselves as a less-traditional form of Ashtanga. For instance, Vinyasa yoga classes may place more emphasis on fitness and less on spiritual development. Classes may also favour variety over repetition and music over silence.
Please see: "Ashtanga / Ashtanga Vinyasa" for more on the origins of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga.
Vinyasa Krama Yoga is a style of Ashtanga Vinyasa Hatha Yoga, where great importance is placed on the optimal and intelligent sequencing of asana and breath movements in yoga practice.
See also: "Ashtanga / Ashtanga Vinyasa"
Vipassana Meditation, also called 'Insight Meditation', is a meditative technique of self-observation. It is believed that by seeing things as they really are (including the universal truths of impermanence and suffering) that the causes of suffering can be understood and conquered. Rediscovered by Gotama Buddha 2500 years ago, and carried through generations of teachers, it has been brought into modern times by Sayagyi U Ba Khin.
There are three stages in the practice of Vipassana Meditation:
1. Good moral conduct and the removal of mental impurities (important for calming the mind in preparation for meditation);
2. Self-observation and the development of equanimity (body processes and sensations are carefully observed without reaction); and ultimately
3. Loving kindness to others.
Mother Sayamagyi carries on the tradition of Sayagyi U Ba Khin at the International Meditation Centre in Rangoon, Burma.
Official site: International Meditation Centre
S. N. Goenka also carries on the tradition of Sayagyi U Ba Khin in India, and globally through his network of assistant teachers. The Vipassana technique is officially taught at 10-day residential courses at no cost to the participants.
Official site: Vipassana Meditation
Please note: The above description is for non-sectarian Vipassana in the tradition of Sayagyi U Ba Khin. 'Vipassana Meditation' can also refer to an entire category of Buddhist meditation.
Vishwa / Gurukala
Vishwa Yoga is a Hatha Yoga system taught by the International Gurukalam. Please see: "Gurukala"
White Tantra / Dakshina Marga
White Tantra is the right-hand path of Tantra Yoga. It follows an ascetic path of knowledge, devotion and worship. Increased awareness is achieved by increasing the flow of energy (kundalini) and clearing the subconscious. Celibacy is also used to prevent energy loss.
Some yoga instructors offer White Tantra classes which also include sexual aspects of Red Tantra (Vama Marga). It would be more accurate to call these classes 'Pink Tantra', a combination of the White and Red Tantra paths.
See also: "Tantra"
Yantras are geometric and often colourful designs representing, at times, aspects of the Universe, the human body, and goddesses or deities.
Different styles of yoga exist within Yantra Yoga. In one traditional style, the yogi first concentrates on a Yantra image to internalize it. Yogic awakening is achieved by gradually dissolving the internalized image along with one's ego.
Yanumoja Yoga, founded by Nikki Manzie in 1998, is a style of Ashtanga Vinyasa Hatha Yoga focused on channelling energy toward union (Nirvana). Yanumoja Yoga follows the Eight-Fold Path of Ashta-anga and includes the tantric philosophy of embracing awareness of one's true nature while fully engaging in life.
A unique feature of Yanumoja Yoga is that students are encouraged to attune themselves into the energy of nature, specifically the flow of the seasons, and to amplify this energy for self-growth. Vinyasa flow (asana movement), breath, sensory focus, meditation, reflection, visualization, yoga philosophy, and creating balance in life are all important elements in Yanumoja Yoga practice.
Official site: Three Winds Academy
Based out of: Ontario and British Columbia, Canada
For more on the Eight-Fold Path, please see: "Ashta-anga / Ashtanga / Classical"
See also: "Ashtanga / Ashtanga Vinyasa" and "Tantra"
Yin Yoga is an ancient system of Hatha Yoga specifically focused on strengthening and stretching the deep tissues around the hips and lower spine in order to improve one's ability to comfortably meditate for prolonged periods.
Yin Yoga focuses on floor postures. Asanas are never rushed - poses are relaxed and intentionally held for longer stretches of time. When appropriate, Yin yoga has also been used for physical rehabilitation.
Yoga for your Nose
Yoga for your Nose is not a yoga style; it is a westernized description for the Indian technique of Jal Neti (Jala Neti, saline-water nasal cleansing). Neti (nasal cleansing) is one of the Shat Karmas (six cleansing techniques) of Hatha yoga.
See also: "Hatha"
Zen (Art of Zen Yoga)
Zen Yoga, created by Aaron Hoopes, is a combination of Hatha Yoga (asana and pranayama), Chinese Qigong breathing exercises, Tai Chi meditative movement and Zen meditation.
Asanas, practiced in the tradition of Shanti Yoga, are used to increase health and flexibility. Qigong and Tai Chi are used to promote energy flow in the body. Completing this system, Zen meditation is used to calm the mind and help students become more aware of the present moment. Since the purpose of all Zen Yoga exercises is to prepare for the challenge within, perfection in the physical exercises is not a priority. Students are encouraged to practice at their own pace and according to their own goals, needs and abilities.
Official site: Art of Zen Yoga
Based out of: Vermont, USA
See also: "Shanti" and "Zen Meditation" (immediately below)
Zen is a Buddhist form of yoga seeking sudden illumination by reaching the 'Buddha Mind' and seeing reality as it is. The yogi becomes Enlightened through the profound yet simple realization that one is Enlightened. This is comparable to 'Sahaja-Samadhi' (the spontaneous and permanent attainment of liberation/ecstasy while in the wakeful mind and body).
A unique aspect of Zen is the meditative contemplation of Koans (parables or riddles) which are discussed in question and answer sessions between master and student. Sitting meditation, observation of the breath, and group chants are also important elements of Zen practice.
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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.