Beginner’s Guide To Five Major Yoga Styles Taught in FoCo


CSU students flow into warrior I position during a Vinyasa class lead by Jerrod. CSU offers a variety of mind body classes ranging from beginner to power yoga, to yoga sculpt.

Randi Mattox

Searching for a local yoga class on the Internet or in a studio’s schedule can be a real exercise in confusion. The language of yoga is a historical language used in Buddhism and Jainism called Sanskrit. So since most of us do not know how to translate Sanskrit, we are often completely confused about whether a Kundalini or Vinyasa yoga class would better suit our bodies.

The good news is that you don’t need to understand the entire Sanskrit language to translate the titles of yoga classes. Although there are countless styles of yoga practiced in Fort Collins, classes that teach Vinyasa, Anusara, Kundalini, Yin, and Bikram are the main styles that are offered. Understanding the basic premise of these styles will give you the knowledge and confidence you need to take a new class and explore the world of yoga.

The first style is Vinyasa. Vinyasa means “breath synchronize movement.” This style focuses on inhalation

Whitney Barry posing in a Vinyasa yoga position called Eka Pada Koundinyasana.
Whitney Barry posing in a Vinyasa yoga position called Eka Pada Koundinyasana. Photo by Randi Mattox

and exhalation to move through different poses. The purpose of this style is to synchronize your breath with your movement as you flow through the class, which is why Vinyasa yoga is also referred to as flow yoga.

Anusara is the second style. It focuses on the philosophy that life is a gift that we can all celebrate through the practice of yoga. Anusara means “to flow with grace.” It is a modern-day style of Hatha yoga, which is an ancient form of yoga that focuses on balance. Anusara also emphasizes balance through poses that are meant to realign the body.

The third style is Kundalini. Kundalini yoga is known as “the yoga of awareness.” Also referred to as Laya yoga, this style focuses on awakening your energy through meditation. The poses in this style mainly target the core and spinal regions of your body.

Yin is the fourth style. It aims to increase joint circulation and flexibility. Yin yoga is slow-paced.

Whitney Barry posing in Supta Baddah Konasana, a Yin yoga position that opens the hips.
Whitney Barry posing in Supta Baddah Konasana, a Yin yoga position that opens the hips. Photo by Randi Mattox

Your instructor will challenge you to hold poses for at least five minutes to apply stress to your connective tissues, which will assist in the overall goal of becoming more flexible.

Bikram, more commonly referred to as heated yoga or hot yoga, is the final style. Bikram yoga focuses on the repetition of a series of poses and breathing exercises to release toxins in your body. Bikram Yoga is almost always practiced in a room heated to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit to increase perspiration that assists in the detoxification of your body.

Om Ananda Yoga studio manager and instructor, Whitney Barry, said beginners shouldn’t be discouraged by the terminology or their lack of experience when considering whether or not to attend a class.

“Everyone can be self-conscious, but that’s why yoga is amazing,” said Barry. “It helps you get over that. We don’t judge. Yoga is individual and we don’t compare. People should try to let go and really just experience it.”

Whitney Barry posing in Vinyasa yoga position called Virabhadrasana.
Whitney Barry posing in Vinyasa yoga position called Virabhadrasana. Photo by Randi Mattox

Barry said practicing multiple styles is helpful in staying balanced.

“I pick different styles of yoga depending on what I need,” said Barry. “When I go to a restorative or Yin style class, I’m not working hard in my physical body. I’m working on relaxing. When I want to workout and sweat, I’ll go to a power flow or a Vinyasa class because they’re going to be more challenging.”

Yoga not only exercises your body, but it also strengthens your mind and spirit. It is the perfect activity for college students. So don’t let the terminology stand in your way and go try a class.

“It’s important to have a healthy break,” said Barry. “There is so much of this build up of stress and pressure and deadlines and papers. There are so many things pulling at you. The more you can relax your mind, the more energetic you’re going to be for your life.”