Moksha yoga classes are similar in theory, intention, and practice to many other varieties of yoga. As with other varieties of yoga, moksha yoga emphasizes calming the mind by completing sets of poses that challenge, soothe, and strengthen the body. The key facets of moksha yoga that sets it apart from other types are that all classes follow the same general sequence of elements, and the classes take place in rooms heated to above-normal temperatures.
Most types of yoga classes follow a set structure that ensures continuity while allowing individual instructors to slightly modify some elements; moksha yoga is no different. A moksha class both begins and ends with a resting pose called savasana, in which participants lie on their backs with palms facing up. Usually, moksha classes combine this relaxation segment with another defining feature of the practice where the instructor sets and intention, or goal, for the class.
The most possible variation between moksha yoga classes taught by different instructors is likely to come in the next two phases, which make up the core of posing. Each moksha class will include a series of standing poses designed to get the heart rate up, improve balance, and build lower-body muscle strength. Classes then progress to a floor work segment, which focuses on upper body and abdominal strength as well as posture and spinal alignment. Poses and sequences utilized in these segments may vary depending on the instructor, but all address the same guiding principles.
Similar to many other types of yoga, breathing, breath control, and meditation are important elements of moksha yoga. The savasana poses at the beginning and end of each class serve as reminders to participants that they should keep their minds relaxed and focused in the moment. Lying still in savasana also raises awareness of how it feels to breathe deeply, evenly, and slowly, and helps participants remember to control their breathing throughout the entire session.
Finally, the most defining element of moksha yoga is probably the heat. This type of yoga is practiced in a room that is heated to above-normal temperatures. Heating the rooms is meant to encourage detoxification of the body through sweat and also helps keep muscles warm and loose throughout the posing sequences. The word "moksha" is a Sanskrit term for “liberation,” and so the heat combined with controlled breathing and body awareness is designed to relax and free the mind.