4 common types of yoga

by Kaiser Permanente |
Yoga class with eyes closed and arms over their heads

Yoga is a mind-body practice. It involves breathing exercises, meditation, and moving your body. It began as a spiritual practice in ancient India. Today, many people practice yoga to benefit their overall health. It can help with pain relief, depression, anxiety, and even quitting smoking.1

There are many different styles of yoga. Some styles are relaxing, while others can be more challenging. Depending on your goals, you may want to try a certain style. Here are 4 types of yoga to choose from and how they can benefit your mind and body.


Hatha is an umbrella term for several types of yoga. Many popular classes taught in the West fall under this style. Hatha is generally slow and gentle. You move into various poses and hold them for several breaths. Common hatha poses include Mountain Pose (Tadasana) and Child’s Pose (Balasana).

Hatha yoga can improve posture, strengthen the core, and help with mindfulness. It can also boost the immune system and help reduce symptoms of menopause.2,3

A hatha yoga class is a good fit for a beginner. It’s also a good style for pregnant people and seniors. Make sure to check with your doctor before starting any exercise program, especially if you’re pregnant.


Vinyasa has fast, constant movement where you “flow” between poses. In hatha yoga, you hold a pose for a minute or longer. But in vinyasa yoga, you hold poses for a shorter time. Cat Pose (Marjaryasana) and Cow Pose (Bitilasana) are often used in this style.

Vinyasa yoga is good for improving strength, muscle tone, endurance, and balance. Research has also shown that vinyasa yoga can lower cholesterol.4

Vinyasa is considered the most athletic style of yoga and can significantly raise your heart rate. So, it’s a great option if you’re looking for a more intense workout or if you’re an experienced yogi. If you’re new to vinyasa, remember that it may take time to master the pace.


Ashtanga yoga is like vinyasa in some ways. It’s performed at a fast pace and features a constant flow of movements. But in ashtanga yoga, you do a series of poses in a set order. You often start with a flowing sequence of poses called sun salutations, then move into a mix of sitting and standing poses.

Ashtanga yoga can be challenging, and helps improve strength and endurance.

This type of yoga is a good choice for athletes looking for a new way to work on their stamina and balance.

Hot yoga

Hot yoga is any type of yoga done in a heated room. It’s not the same as the Original 26 + 2, which has 26 set positions and 2 breathing exercises and is done at a specific temperature. The temperature, humidity, and poses in hot yoga can vary depending on the class. Temperatures  normally range from 80 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

The heat can loosen muscles, which can help improve flexibility. You may find you’re able to get a greater range of motion, too. Plus, it makes the cardiovascular system work hard as it tries to cool your body down.5

Hot yoga can be difficult for beginners. So, remember to drink lots of water and take your time to get comfortable with this style. You may want to avoid hot yoga if you’re pregnant, or have diabetes or heart problems.6,7

Staying active to support your total health

Practicing yoga can be a great addition to your self-care routine. You can find classes online or at local studios or gyms. Staying active supports your physical health — and can also benefit your mental health. For more wellness resources, visit kp.org/selfcare.

Yoga: What You Need To Know,” National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, accessed March 8, 2024.

Komal Shah et al., “Yoga, Immunity and COVID-19,” Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care, May 2022.

Neda Sharifi et al., “The Effects of Yoga on Quality of Life Among Postmenopausal Women: A Systematic Review Study,Post Reproductive Health, November 13, 2021.

Milad Azami et al., “Effect of Yoga on Lipid Profile,” International Journal of Preventative Medicine, May 17, 2019.

Kelsey Bourbeau et al., “Cardiovascular, Cellular, and Neural Adaptations to Hot Yoga versus Normal,” International Journal of Yoga, May 10, 2021.

Nicholas Ravanelli et al., “Heat Stress and Fetal Risk,” British Journal of Sports Medicine, July 2019.

Cameron Scott, "Hot Yoga: Is It Super-Heated Exercise or a Health Danger?" Healthline, June 4, 2019