Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Typology of Modern Yoga


Over the summer of 2015, I had an opportunity to sit down with Dr. Elizabeth de Michelis and discuss the emerging field of academic study on Modern Yoga. 

Our discussion led to the creation of the diagram, Typology of Modern Yoga, which is based on the classification model first developed by Dr de Michelis in her important book, A History of Modern Yoga. This diagram aims to be a helpful tool for understanding the ever-evolving types of Yoga practised today and it explains the original coining of the term Modern Postural Yoga (MPY), which has become widely used within the Yoga community.

Her book paved the way for further academic study into Modern Yoga with some Universities now offering graduate level programmes, such as:

Master of Arts in Traditions of Yoga and Meditation at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, UK.

Master Programme in Yoga Studies at Ca’ Foscari University, Venice, Italy (in Italian).

Master of Arts in Yoga Studies at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, California, USA.


  1. Dear Jacqueline,

    first of all, thank you for this very clear and interesting post.
    I was wondering under which category would you put Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bajan. (I would put it either under MPsY or MMY) It is hard to find any reference to this kind of yoga in the publications that followed De Micheli's work and (since it appears to me as a big movement) I can't figure out why: can you help me?

  2. Hi
    Thanks for sharing this great work. I love reading blogs, articles related to yoga. I appreciate your work.
    I would like suggest the name of Tattvaa Yogashala, Rishikesh for best Yoga teacher training certification course affiliated to Yoga Alliance USA.

  3. Thanks so much for your question. Kundalini Yoga would appear to me to sit mainly in the Modern Denominational Yoga (MDY) category with some cross-over with Modern Postural Yoga (MPY). Philip Deslippe's excellent historical study of the construction of Yogi Bajan's eclectic system is a very helpful:


  4. This picture is conceptualization and has a little to do with yoga itself. Many times it seems that western "scholars" are somehow making their monthly salary by these kind of things without going anywhere from the surface of yoga. Cannot even recognize here the ashtanga yoga that for example Manju Jois or Sharath Jois or other seniors teach.

    1. Indeed, this is a model for understanding the landscape of trans-national yoga offerings. It is not describing yoga teachings or practice. The ashtanga yoga of Jois fits into this model as an example of Modern Postural Yoga (MPY). You are incorrect to assume 'that western scholars are somehow making their monthly salary by these kind of things'. I am not paid at all for my research and writings on The Luminescent. If you appreciate my work, please consider giving a donation.

    2. Then, and thanks for making the effort. However this case of ashtanga actually doesn't fit to that model. The emphasis to the postural practice is from the west not from the source itself. When studying with any senior teacher, specially Indian ones, the emphasis is in Patanjalis model of eight limbed yoga with different forms of practical practices such as asanas, mantras, reading philosophy or pranayamas. Yes, it can also be a strong practise but it's not the point or emphasized according to Manju, Sharath or Masterji. I believe guruji had different forms of teaching for different people. He was also a scholar. With bad english taught also a lot of asanas and was many times misundersood according to Sharath. For many western people it can be mainly sports like practice and fitness studios are also teaching it because of it's therapeutical and demanding postures. Still the main point is elsewhere and it's mainly not understood in the west. Like other yoga it's also sold with marketing language and many of "famous" ashtanga teachers are more or less physically advanced practitioners and only teach this kind of postural yoga as you say. Still to understand the actual form or lineage it's recommended to study it with a guru. With this kind of "Typology" maps this yoga is undervalued and not understood correctly. If you have personally studied it more than 10 years and also studied with the gurus of it, then we have just heavily different point of view. But I think this typology thing only stays same level than the people going to fitness studios doing zumba or some yoga related sports. You can add yin, yang, flow this, flow that, beer dog, cat and other yoga as well then. Keep up the good work.

  5. Hi,

    Nice post. Thanks for Sharing valuable information.

  6. Many of the easiest Asana render most of the common benefits of Yoga to their fullest.i liked it

  7. So where does Baron Baptiste's Power fit in? All all other Flow varieties including "Body Balance" (Tai Chi + Yoga or Chi Kung + Yoga), Dance Yoga, etc????