Hatha Yoga Systems

In your search for the “right” yoga class, you may shop around and try a few different venues. The first thing you’ll notice is that one teacher has a precise way of teaching a pose while another teacher changes the pose slightly. Sometimes teachers may even refer to the same pose by a different name. Or you may hear someone say, “I’m doing kripalu,” or “I’m into kundalini,” and wonder if these are actually yoga classes. They are. In fact, hatha yoga is no longer the generic yoga of the 1960s but over the last few decades has evolved into several different approaches.

The following is a brief list of the hatha yoga schools with a description of their focus, followed by a more in-depth explanation of the methods and the founding practitioners.


For more information about ananda yoga contact:

The Expanding Light Retreat 14618 Tyler Foote Road Nevada City, CA 95959 (800) 346-5350

Ananda, strong emphasis on meditation

Ashtanga, strong emphasis on the physical

Bikram, emphasis on the physical and sweating

Integral, emphasis on relaxation by integrating positions, breath, and meditation

Iyengar, emphasis on symmetry and alignment

Kripalu, emphasis on flowing and merging of body, breath, and mind

Kundalini, focus is on the breath

Sivananda, emphasis is on integrating positions, breath, and meditation, and is gentle

Viniyoga, emphasis is on integrating poses and breathing for the individual, and breathing is stressed


As hram

A physical setting where a community of people practice a certain type of yoga. Some ashrams are small; others resemble small cities. A core of people who practice yoga live and run the ashram. Yoga classes, workshops, and teachers’ training are offered at ashrams across America.

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