It is certainly true that, in modern times, yoga has become incredibly popular – being a popular practice for people from all walks of life.
However, what many people might not know is that there are varying forms of yoga, some of which are considered to be suitable for beginners, and others that are considered to be a little more difficult.
But this begs the question: which forms of yoga are considered difficult, and what makes them so hard?
How Many Yoga Styles Are There?
Generally speaking, there are 13 official styles of yoga that are recognized by professional bodies – each of which has different historical significance, and includes fairly different practices.
Which Yoga Style Is The Hardest?
While each of the schools of yoga all consist of elements that are hard, many practitioners consider the most difficult form of yoga to be Bikram yoga – due to the fact that it contains the most poses, the highest difficulty poses, and that it can be quite physically demanding.
This means that Bikram yoga is generally reserved for those who have been lifelong practitioners of yoga, and that it is certainly not for the faint of heart (nor for beginners to the pastime).
What Are The Styles Of Yoga?
As mentioned above, there are 13 different styles of yoga that are officially recognized, and these have specific roles within the framework of the practice and surrounding belief system.
The term “Hatha” is actually thousands of years old, and is a way of referring to every kind of yoga posture.
While the style has been co opted, changed, and renamed over time, the basic practices still focus around slow postures that have a careful awareness of the way you are moving.
This makes it great for those with existing physical ailments, and the elderly, who find it beneficial for aiding movement.
This Indian-created yoga style was always designed to be a style that all people could practice – even those with physical limitations, ailments, or injuries.
One of the most popular yoga styles created during the early 20th century, this was the brainchild of B.K.S Iyengar, who himself had learned to treat injuries using yoga – and who sought to offer the same expertise to others who needed it.
Notably one of the more popular styles of yoga – due in part to widespread celebrity endorsement – Kundalini is an American style of yoga developed by Yogi Bhajan in 1971.
The focus of Kundalini is the balancing of all of the delicate energies in the nervous system – specifically chakras and nadis – and the channeling and shifting of energies through pranayama breathing techniques, mantra chanting, physical exercise, and meditation.
Known for offering a full body workout, and focusing on elements of gymnastics, it is certainly not for those who want a relaxing yoga session – but it can be great as an all round destresser and exercise regimen for those who want it.
Focusing on flow and breathing, Vinyasa Yoga is all about smoothness of movement, and focusing on the energies of the body during transitions.
Known as one of the gentlest styles of yoga, it is a popular undertaking for those with physical limitations, existing injuries, and other issues.
Otherwise known as “hot yoga”, Bikram is known for being one of the most intense workouts – even within the diverse yoga industry.
Not for the faint of heart, nor those who have illnesses, injuries, and limitations, Bikram yoga is all about loosening the body, working the muscles, and de-stressing the mind through intense heat and positioning.
Derived from martial arts, Yin Yoga originates from Chinese teachings, and is focused on forming deeper connective tissue in the joints, and developing a deep state of calm within your own mind and body.
This is also focused on relieving certain energies, and channeling them to all of the meridians in the body – taking much of its focus from traditional Chinese medicine.
The goal of restorative yoga is – as the name suggests – to restore peace and tranquility to the body and mind, namely through the easing of injuries, aches, pains, and stress.
This makes it very popular as a form of physical therapy, and one that has many uses both within the medical world, and mainstream society.
It is also known for incorporating props – including neck pillows, eye masks, blankets, belts, and bolsters.
While general forms of yoga are not recommended for pregnant women, prenatal yoga was designed for the exact opposite – allowing those in stages of pregnancy to safely and comfortably engage in a form of yoga that was specifically designed for them.
The style prides itself on creating a calm, peaceful environment, with practices that can help prepare women for an easier delivery – thanks to aiding flexibility, breathing, mindfulness, and focus.
Focusing on creativity and free flow, Anusara Yoga is all about creating a lighthearted atmosphere wherein the practitioners can decompress, relieve stress, and prepare themselves for the day ahead.
As you can probably imagine, this is very much a new age approach to yoga, and the style incorporates many new terms for classic poses – something that might be hard for traditionalists to get their head around.
The name means “freedom of the individual soul”, and this is very much the mantra of this style of yoga, focusing on incorporating many different styles of yoga to create something that is true and useful to the individual practitioner.
These are known for being touch, athletically focused classes that are not only designed to ease your mind and destress you, but to make you physically sweat as well.
However, this style also focuses on bringing in the traditions of the pastime, creating a coming together of traditional and modern that many respond to.
This was officially created by Christopher Harrison, who opened the worldwide fitness chain Antigravity Yoga in the year 2007.
This proved to be the forerunner for many other variations and styles, each of them incorporating elements of gymnastics and acrobatics to further improve the yoga industry.
The main focus of Acro yoga is inversions, and preparing the body for complex inversions – and as such usually requires the use of a partner to assist people on their way.
Just like in acrobatics, a partner will use themself as a base upon which the other balances, using one another’s weight to support the other, and creating complex balances that wouldn’t look out of place in an acrobatic performance.
It is certainly true that yoga has increased in popularity in recent times – with the benefits to mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing becoming more and more clear.
However, it is important to focus on a form that suits your skill level and limitations, and there are luckily a lot to choose from.
So if you want to know which form of yoga is the hardest, then be sure to refer to this handy guide!