The Yoga Guide

This guide explains the many genres of yoga, deciphers the characteristics of each style, relates exercise routines to individual qualities and suggests locations to explore your unique spiritual discipline.

By Hilary Adleberg

For thousands of years communities have practiced yoga, with archeological artifacts depicting yoga poses dating back to 3000 B.C. Over time, the ritual evolved and divided into different factions and branches.

In Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainis ‘yoga’ translates to ‘spiritual discipline,’ though each culture bred different ideologies. Traditional yoga practices have been tweaked, stretched and enhanced—as reflected in the yoga stances themselves. This guide explains the many genres of yoga, deciphers the characteristics of each style, relates exercise routines to individual qualities and suggests locations to explore your unique spiritual discipline.


Dancing Mind Yoga
Dancing Mind Yoga

Best Clientele:
Beginner, Muscle-Building, Tortoise-Minded (As Opposed to Hare-Minded)

Hatha / Ansura / Iyengar / Kripalu

Hatha—a broad category of yoga—is a slow-paced style that provides a good introduction to basic yoga poses. Appropriate for all ages and abilities, these types of classes don’t force everyone into the same cookie-cutter positions. You are taught to get to know, accept and learn from your body. Once you gain an initial understanding of how your body works in different poses, you will learn to hold postures and meditate longer. These styles teach the fundamentals and lend a strong foundation useful for any method of yoga.

Kripalu is perfect for those who want to learn the basic mechanics, proper breath work and spiritual aspect. Practicing Kripalu helps to cultivate an awareness of the physical and mental connection—exemplifying how the mind influences physical gestures, and vice versa.

Iyengar uses props like blocks, straps and incline boards to work every part of the body, leading to great muscle definition, not mass. Iyengar yoga focuses attention on alignment and deliberate sequencing. The form is fitting for beginners and yoga veterans because its classes offer an upbeat, carefree vibe.

Anusura instructors teach proper alignment to prevent injuries—in and out of the classroom. This class is a good first step for someone trying to get back into shape. Anusura fosters an accepting atmosphere where instructors teach students to express themselves through the poses, to their fullest individual ability.

Studios and Classes
Sun and Moon Yoga
Fairfax & Arlington; 703-525-YOGA;; first class is free for new clients

Positive Energy Yoga
3223 Duke St., Suite B2, Alexandria; 703-582-3699;

Unity Woods Yoga Center
4001 9th St. N, Apt. 105, Arlington; 703-525-8992;

The Energy Club
2900 S. Quincy St., Arlington; 703-824-2058;

Yoga with Hinda Sacks at The Landings
6100 Cove Landing Road, Burke; 703-631-0378;



Inner Power Yoga
Inner Power Yoga

Best Clientele:
Athlete, Jock, Hare-Minded (As Opposed to Tortoise-Minded)

Vinyasa / Ashtanga / Bikram

Vinyasa is a general term that describes multiple types of more vigorous yoga styles. Meaning breath-synchronized movement, Vinyasa classes link series of poses by breath. This workout is for the athletically inclined, who believe that exercising is pushing one’s body to its limits.The high-intensity classes are a great cardiovascular workout, providing quick weight loss results.

Ashtanga, for example, moves from one pose to the next with each inhale and exhale. Ashtanga originates from Mysore, India, and was developed to settle the energy and focus the minds of teenage school boys. Introduced to the U.S. in 1975, classes may be called “vinyasa” or “flow” and should incorporate the same rapid, athletic poses from the traditional style.

Bikram, a trending yoga style right now, cranks up the room temperature to almost 105 degrees F and 40-percent humidity. The motive behind these classes is to loosen muscles and increase flexibility, but if you’re just starting out as a “hot yoga” client, be careful not to overstretch and injure yourself. “A lot of people that come here love the athleticism and cardio aspect of it. Tolerating the heat is definitely an athletic challenge,” warns Ashley Hoover of Dancing Mind Yoga. Can’t stand the heat? Get out of the yoga class.

Studios and Classes
Dancing Mind Yoga
929 W. Broad St., Falls Church; 703-237-9642;; first-timers can get a one-month unlimited pass for all classes available

PIES Fitness Yoga Studio
374 S. Pickett St., Alexandria; 703-887-9574;

SuperNoVA Yoga
4019 5th Road N, Arlington; 571-257-7772;

Inner Power Yoga
46090 Lake Center Plaza, Suite 205, Sterling; 703-795-8400;

Bikram Yoga
1073 W. Broad St., Falls Church; 703-536-9642;

Edge Yoga
2440 Wilson Blvd., Suite 201, Arlington; 703-243-8866;



Best Clientele:
Spiritual, Health Nut, Vegan/Vegetarian, Meditative

Jivamukti / Sivananda / Kundalini

Meditation and chanting are prominent in these styles of yoga. Long-held poses lend a good opportunity to quiet the mind and restore the body. These classes promote an overall, healthy mind and body mentality that encourages vegetarianism both to discourage violence as well as to better one’s digestive process.

Jivamukt, meaning “liberation while living,” encourages students to find a state of enlightenment, reintroducing traditional spiritual elements in an educational way. The five tenets—including scripture, bhakti (devotion to God), ahimsa (nonviolence), nada yoga (yoga of sound) and meditation—form the foundation of each Jivamukti class.

A slow, soothing practice, every Sivananda class begins and ends with meditation and chanting. Sivananda is formed around a five-component philosophy that corrects breathing, relaxation, diet, exercise and positive thinking, all considered necessary elements in practicing a healthy lifestyle.

Intended to release the Kundalini, a serpent of fluid energy from the base of the body upward, this style of yoga is perfect for those seeking greater spiritual, mind and body awareness. Kundalini constantly moves from one invigorating pose to the next while staying focused and grounded through both meditation and breath work.

Studios and Classes
Holistic Touch
309 S. Washington St., Alexandria; 703-299-0500;

Journey Yoga
2628 Columbia Pike, Arlington; 571-357-3546;

Radiance Yoga Studio
110 King St., Alexandria; 703-535-8282;

Dream Yoga Studio & Wellness Center
1485 Chain Bridge Road, Suite 104, McLean; 703-448-9642;

Sterling Yoga Center
22821 Silverbrook Center Drive, Unit 160, Sterling; 703-742-9642;



Everyone, Injured

Restorative / Yin

This category focuses less on working the body’s muscles and more on passive stretching that relaxes and restores range of motion. Expect to practice patience because Restorative and Yin styles regularly hold poses for up to 20 minutes.

Restorative yoga uses blocks, bolsters and blankets to eliminate unnecessary straining. “These classes are focused on relaxation and the ability of letting go and really sinking into the pose,” explains Mike Gray, fitness manager at Equinox. Restorative classes are beneficial for everyone. Even if you’re devoted to your particular practice, taking the time to do a restorative class will give your body a necessary relaxation session.

Yin poses are passive, meaning positions are meant to relax muscles and let gravity do the work. Yin focuses on strengthening connective tissues, which is most beneficial to athletes whose joints may be getting stiff due to muscle crowding. Poses are held anywhere from five to 20 minutes, which allows for a good stretch for both the mind and body.

Studios and Classes
Equinox Tysons Corner
8065 Leesburg Pike, Vienna; 703-790-6193;

River’s Edge Yoga
300 Montgomery St., Suite 201, Alexandria; 571-218-2161;

Bowenwork Therapeutics
491-B Carlisle Drive, Herndon; 703-728-3421;

Saffron Yoga
3260 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; 703-276-2355;

Health Advantage Yoga
1041 Sterling Road, Suite 202, Herndon; 703-435-1571;



Mind the Mat
Mind the Mat

Best Clientele:
Pregnant women looking for drug-free delivery and speedier labor


Geared toward expectant mothers, prenatal yoga follows the belief that if mothers-to-be keep their muscles strong through to term, they will be better prepared for delivery and will have more strength and energy for a quicker recovery. Consistently practicing prenatal yoga has been proven to ward off pregnancy aches, pains and swelling. Aside from muscular benefits, yogic breathing classes teach similar techniques to Lamaze classes. Yogic breathing induces relaxation because it deeply engages the diaphragm.

Studios and Classes
Mind the Mat
2214 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria; 703-683-2228;

Moore than Yoga
4347 Arlington Blvd., Arlington; 703-671-2435;

Begin Within Birth with Tara Campbell Lussier
830 Valemount Terrace NE, Leesburg; 703-472-4704;

Yoga Birth and Beyond
101 S. Whiting St., Suite 314, Alexandria; 703-971-7305;

Beloved Yoga
Great Falls & Reston; 703-860-YOGA;

East Meets West Yoga Center
8227 Old Courthouse Road, Suite 310, Vienna; 703-356-9642;


Best Clientele:
Private sessions for injured patients, those with back problems


Viniyoga is a personalized, customized, one-on-one class. This individualized experience focuses on proper warm-up techniques using the principles of proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF). PNF—the act of warming up and contracting a muscle before stretching it—decreases your chances of injury in all physical activities, in and out of yoga class. Monu Harnal, owner of Illume Yoga, explains how with one-on-one instruction she can provide her clients with more poses modified to their potential. “It takes the traditional principles and applies it to the individual’s needs. I am considering the physical limitations and/or strengths, and I’m able to assess the individual’s capabilities and create a customized program for them,” says Harnal.

Viniyoga is also great for back pain sufferers. Instructors suggest poses intended to stabilize your sacrum, loosen back muscles, and balance out your spine. Function is of more importance than form in Viniyoga, so each pose will be adapted to give you exactly what you need.

Studios and Classes
bemoo yoga
1423 Powhatan St., Suite 7, Alexandria; 703-283-1883;

Illume Yoga

Zion Yoga
10700 Zion Drive, Fairfax; 571-318-9333;

Pengu Studio
6809 Old Dominion Drive, McLean; 571-723-6200;

BE Yoga
45406 Lakeside Drive, Sterling; 202-689-5945;


There’s a Yoga Style for Everybody.

Ansura: a purist form of yoga; chill yoga
Iyengar: uses props (blocks, straps, harnesses, etc), about precise alignment and deliberate sequencing
Kripalu: know, accept and learn from your body

Ashtanga: fast-paced yoga
Bikram: hot yoga

Spiritual Mind & Body Awareness
Jivamukti: traditional spiritual elements (Sanskrit chanting, references to ancient scripture)
Sivananda: promotes healthy lifestyle through positive thinking, proper breathing, relaxation, diet and exercise; encourages vegetarian lifestyle for better digestion
Kundalini: constantly moving from one invigorating pose to the next while staying focused and grounded through meditation and breath work

Prenatal: safe exercise during pregnancy; speeds up labor and wards off pregnancy aches, pains and swelling

Restorative: relaxation session; spend maybe 20 minutes each in four or five simple poses
Yin: quiet, long, meditative practice; prepares body for meditation; good for athletes with overcrowded joints, restores range of motion

Private Sessions
Viniyoga: propioceptive neuromuscular facilitation means warming up and contracting a muscle before stretching it; decreases chance of injury

(July 2012)