I’m often asked ‘What type of yoga do you teach?’ So, in this post, I’ve decided to discuss the subject in more detail. Hopefully I’ve gotten my facts correct, but I encourage you to do your own research to verify what I’ve written.

Outside of India, yoga is mostly practised just for physical exercise (asana) and relaxation.

Personally, I don’t see any harm done from practising yoga just as a form of exercise, however, traditional yoga is a very spiritual practice with the ultimate aim of achieving ‘Liberation’ (a higher state of consciousness). Nonetheless, yoga isn’t a religion, it’s arguably more like a science. There are several traditional styles of yoga (or ‘union’), and some have been practised in India for at least 5000 years!

To achieve Liberation, traditional yoga devotees will spend many hours each day seated in meditation . And, if necessary, they will give up many of the material things of modern life to achieve their goal. That’s why many devotees of traditional yoga join ashrams or, for example, they will live in a mountain cave – it’s so that they can escape the distractions of everyday life and focus entirely on their spiritual practice.

Nowadays, the majority of yoga that is practised is called ‘Modern Postural Yoga’. I teach Modern Postural Yoga at the leisure centres, in a style which is called Vinyasa Flow Yoga. As the name implies, we ‘flow’ from one posture to the next, only stopping to hold a stretch or balance. There are many styles of Modern Postural Yoga but they all borrow postures/stretches (asana) from a very ancient traditional style of yoga called Hatha Yoga.

What is Hatha Yoga?

In a nutshell, Hatha Yoga is a methodology of physical and mental techniques, which the practitioner follows until, eventually, they achieve Liberation. It involves the practise of techniques that (allegedly) increase the flow of energy through the practitioners body; for example, internal body cleansing, asanas (posture/stretching) and pranayama (breath control). With constant practise of these techniques, the devotee develops great strength and self-discipline.

During the evolution of Modern Postural Yoga some of the postures, that were borrowed from Hatha Yoga, have been modified to make them safer or more appropriate for a gym or studio setting. Sports science and physiotherapy have played a part in this evolution.

Furthermore, new postures have been added; for example, it may surprise you to learn that the sun salutation (surya namaskara) is a 20th Century invention? To sum up, I teach Modern Postural Yoga which emphasises physical fitness rather than the pursuit of higher states of consciousness. However, many of the postures that we practise in Modern Postural Yoga have been borrowed from the very ancient, traditional Indian form of yoga known as Hatha Yoga.