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Traditional Yoga Styles

Traditional Yoga Styles

Traditional Yoga, also known as classical Yoga, arose during the 2nd century and encompasses a wide variety of techniques and teachings. It was preceded by a nearly 2,000 year period that is generally known as pre-classical.

This style of Yoga is referred to as traditional yoga because it has remained unchanged in form for several thousands of years while other more modern styles of yoga have been developed to serve a specific need such as flexibility, pre-natal health or breathing. However, many of the newer styles of yoga, at their core, incorporate several of the fundamental aspects, techniques, and approaches derived from traditional yoga.

Often considered the most pure of Yoga forms, Traditional Yoga stresses that teachings are meant to be memorized and performed to perfection. In fact, the first known commentary on traditional Yoga was not written until the 5th century when Vyasa delivered a speech about it called "Yoga- Bhashya" (or simply "Speech on Yoga")

The aerobic benefits of the traditional style are few because it focuses upon other areas such as a union of the mind and body and flexibility of the joints and muscles. the beginning student of yoga in the traditional style should attend a class and wear comfortable clothes that allow for a wide variety of movement and a yoga mat to support and cushion the body.

Primary Purpose of Traditional Yoga

Traditional Yoga focuses on developing several key areas of the body in order to draw the participant into a constant state of relaxation and connectivity with their spirit. Some areas that it develops include concentration, balance, strength and posture.

Traditional Yoga is often thought to increase the flexibility of areas that are not entirely addressed by other styles and daily activities. The true purpose of traditional yoga is to address areas in a very simplistic way and take things back to the drawing board. It is not generally thought of as a mind altering form of yoga but rather a style that reforms how the participant thinks about their body.

Types of Movements and Functions Typically Performed Within This Style

This style of Yoga is meant to utilize movements that are done with every part of the body. It should be stressed, however, that traditional yoga has no set prerequisites or limitations. Anyone can perform any movement in traditional yoga making it a great way for anyone to get started.

If a move is not yet possible for any means (weight, unprepared body, etc.) there are alternative moves that greatly mimic the currently difficult ones. Some specific movements to be expected in traditional yoga are:

From a supine (laying on back) position, drawing arms or legs up in either a beant or outstretched motion.

  • From a standing position, rotating the neck around in a smooth clockwise motion.

  • From a supine position, drawing the hips upward and across.

  • From a sitting position, drawing elbows inward towards chest and rotating elbows.

Primary Muscle Groups Targeted

Traditional Yoga Styles

In general, traditional yoga will target several large muscle groups that make up the core (back, hips, pelvis, abdomen) in order to maintain and stabilize the spine. Other muscles that are strengthened are dependent on the type of pose that is being performed (i.e. prone, supine, sitting, standing).

There are literally hundreds of poses, movements, and series of movements within yoga. Included below are a few examples of some of the common poses typically performed in yoga and the muscle groups that they target.


  • Fold Forward Pose: Stretches both the muscles of the lower back and the hamstrings and strengthens the quads.

  • Pose of the Tree: Stretches the quad muscles and strengthens the hamstrings and calves.

  • Pose of the Triangle: Stretches the joints of the hips and strengthens the waist and quads.


  • Pose of the Locust: Strengthens the gluteals, legs and lower back.

  • Pose of the Cobra: Stretches the abs, chest and shoulders and strengthens the gluteals, spine, and arms.

Is Traditional Yoga for You?

As stated previously, traditional yoga is for beginners and veterans alike. Although the mind is free and the body becomes a blank slate in traditional yoga, the expectations of those that wish to begin participating are low to non-existent. Some people begin traditional yoga to train for another style or type and some are happy to remain in traditional for the rest of their life.

Facts and Statistics

Of the total population that participate in traditional yoga on a regular basis, 27% are considered senior citizens and 34% are considered overweight (among the highest of any popularized physical activity) based on a 2004 study.

The average 180 pound male will typically burn approximately 300 calories an hour while practicing traditional yoga. this is a fair number of calories to burn per hour and can be beneficial in promoting safe and effective weight loss.

A study done in 2008 revealed that the United States population spends an average of $5.7 million on classes and materials for yoga. The total population that participates in Yoga is an average of 15.7 million or 6.9%.

Traditional Yoga Styles

In terms of blood pressure, a study performed in 2004 revealed fantastic benefits. A group of 25 people with an average blood pressure of 142mmHg (systolic) and 86mmHg (diastolic) participated in traditional yoga for 11 weeks.

At the end of the study the average blood pressure of the group had dropped to 126mmHg (systolic) and 75mmHg (diastolic). This being said. regularly performing a yoga routine can be ideal for individuals with high blood pressure. As is evident, regularly performing a yoga routine provides countless physical and mental benefits. To this end, yoga is an excellent addition to any workout routine.