There are quite a number of different types of yoga’s these days that try to differentiate themselves from one another and emphasize certain aspects of the entire practice of yoga.
Traditionally, yoga’s benefits work on the body, mind and spirit, though most Western yoga’s tend to focus on the body.
If you live in a moderately large city, you should be able to find several kinds of studios and teachers, including:
Ashtanga yoga gets its name from asha and tanga, eight limbs.
It is based on ancient yoga text thousands of years old that stated there were eight limbs, or supports, that serve as the foundation of a yoga practice.
Yoga means union, so the eight limbs help unite body, mind and spirit. The eight limbs are:
Yama refers to a person’s moral and ethical standards and personal integrity. The five yamas that lead to decent behavior are:
- Not killing or doing harm (ahimsa)
- Not being envious
Niyama refers to self-discipline and spiritual practice in one’s daily life. This can be gained through meditation, the practice of mindfulness, and/or attending a house of worship and leading a good life.
There are five niyamas:
- Spiritual control and self-denial
- Study of the sacred scriptures, and of one’s self, trying to tap into your higher power
- Surrendering to God
Asanas are the physical postures practiced in yoga.
You have probably heard the phrase, “Your body is a temple.”
Those who believe in reincarnation, as Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and others do, believe that the continually residing mind, or spirit, moves from one body to another as you would move from house to house.
Therefore, whatever new residence we live in, we should keep it in good condition.
Physical health can also lead to mental health and increased concentration.
Doing yoga enhances self-discipline, also important if you wish to enhance your meditation and mental abilities.
Without breath, there is no life, so pranayama is breath control.
The word prana means energy and yama means standards or control, so the pranayama is thought to extend discipline and control and in turn rejuvenate the body or even extend life.
You can do pranayama on its own, or as part of your yoga practice, such as Yinyasa, Kundalini and Hatha.
Ashtanga does not do as much breath work as this yoga’s.
The first four limbs focus on one person perfecting them self.
The other four limbs relate to how a person is connected with other living beings and the universe as a whole.
This is achieved through meditation.
Pratyahara means withdrawal of external awareness so we can focus within to improve ourselves.
In this way we can work on our bad habits, past issues, or anything that might interfere with harmonious relationships or our own spiritual growth.
Pratyahara creates the conditions for dharana, concentration.
Once we remove distractions, we can harness the power of our mind more fully.
The mantra OM helps focus.
Dhyana can be translated as contemplation, when the mind is most focused and able to concentrate.
There is no more “chatter” in the mind, but rather stillness and clarity.
Samadhi is a state of bliss or ecstasy achieved through meditation, a state of feeling spiritually connected to the universe, a union of body, mind and spirit.
It is gained through regular practice of physical yoga and mental training.
Most modern yoga’s do not concern themselves with all eight limbs, though all require self-discipline.
If you are interested in yoga as a trans formative process complete with meditation and breath work, Hatha, Kundalini and Ashtanga might be right for you.
Ashtanga yoga has seven levels, one basic, two intermediate, and four advanced, and is very vigorous.
Even the most skilled practitioners have rarely been able to reach the two highest advanced levels.
This yoga would be ideal for people who are young and fit, but not for seniors or those with health issues.
Bikram yoga was founded in the 1970s by the yoga teacher Bikram Choudhury.
It is also commonly referred to as hot yoga, though there are other types of yoga’s also being done in hot studios these days.
Bikram is also referred to as “boot camp” because it drills students in every 90-minute lesson using the same two breathing exercises and 26 Hatha yoga postures done in the same pattern.
In the studio, temperatures range from 80F to 110F, with a relative humidity of around 75%.
This is thought to mimic the conditions in India, the birthplace of Hatha yoga, the most ancient form of yoga which dates back to around 1500 BC.
The second theory behind the heat is that it relaxes and lengthens muscles to give a better workout.
It is also said to promote weight loss and release toxins from the body. Those who favor Bikram also say it boosts the immune system.
However, doing vigorous yoga poses in such conditions can cause severe dehydration and pose a serious health risk for anyone who has any heart health issues.
Therefore, while Bikram studios are popping up everywhere these days, is not recommended for seniors or anyone with an underlying health concern.
Yoga means union – the union of mind, body and spirit. Bikram, on the other hand, is a modern invention that emphasizes physical strength.
Yoga is supposed to be non-competitive, but the founder encourages yoga pose competitions to see who can come up with the perfect pose, in order to win various awards.
Bikram Pros and Cons:
Bikram came from Bengal on the Indian subcontinent and brought his version of yoga to the US through Hawaii and California.
It has gained in popularity due to the novelty of the hot studios and the ease of only having to learn 26 Hatha yoga postures out of the thousands available.
These poses can give a good workout in themselves, with little need for a hot studio.
In addition to the health benefits mentioned above, the heat is also supposed to help increase willpower as people struggle to carry out their practice in such difficult conditions.
Willpower or not, excessive sweating can cause electrolyte imbalances and result in heart rhythm issues.
If students don’t drink plenty of water before, during and after their workout, they can experience dehydration, which can also pose a serious health risk.
Dehydration can lead to an irregular heartbeat and to lower blood volume. Low blood volume can in turn lead to hypovolemic shock, which can even lead to death if not treated promptly.
If you like the postures of Bikram, you should be able to do them anywhere to improve your body without dying of heat prostration.
You can find simple posters with each of the asanas listed that you can follow along with.
There is no meditation component with Bikram as there is with other forms of yoga.
Is Bikram Right for You?
In addition to the hot studios and asana drilling, Bikram is often referred to as “cult-like” rather than warm and welcoming.
The founder and the teachers on his teacher training program have also recently been accused of systematic sexual misconduct with their students.
Any exercise is better than none in most cases, of course, but there are a range of yoga’s to choose from.
Pick a style that matches your age, fitness level and interests.
Compare and choose the safest and healthiest for you, with a studio to match.
There are a number of different kinds of yoga – some ancient, and some modern inventions which emphasize different aspect of yoga.
What Is Hatha Yoga?
Yoga means union; the union of mind, body and spirit.
Hatha is the most traditional of the yoga’s and has been practiced for thousands of years in India and the Far East.
The name Hatha means willful or forceful.
The word is also a combination of hat (sun) and ha (moon).
It works with the energy centers of the body, flesh and bone. The focus is on surrendering to and perfecting the many poses, and using yoga for health, healing and personal transformation.
Hatha yoga is part of traditional Ayurveda, that is, Indian medicine.
In traditional Eastern forms of medicine, doctors treat not just the physical body but the energy body, also called the subtle body.
It is thought to be comprised of channels, loops, meridians and chakras – that is, energy centers in the body.
If a surgeon cut you open, they wouldn’t see the chakras, but Hatha posits that they are there and balance the energy for healing purposes and overall well-being.
Chinese acupuncture and acupressure, Reiki, Shiatsu and other healing modalities also work on the theory of balance and stimulating the energy in the body.
Many modern types of yoga focus mainly on the poses, or asanas, the physical side of yoga.
Hatha yoga aspires to create balance in all things. There are different levels of poses, and therefore different classes and DVD’S you can try.
Hatha improves mental concentration through meditation, chanting mantras like OM, and to some extent, breath work.
With breath work, you learn how to breathe in different patterns with different purposes, such as a cooling breath or a heating breath that increases energy.
At One with the Breath:
The Sanskrit word for breath work is pranayama.
Prana means life-force, ayama to regulate or lengthen.
In other words, practicing pranayama can improve one’s health and vitality through the breath.
The breath work is very useful for eliminating toxins from the body and improving the immune system.
A Union of Body, Mind and Spirit:
Yoga is not just about the body beautiful.
It is considered to be a way of connecting with our inner selves so we can open up to connecting with others.
This can be achieved through meditation.
Meditation can also include breath work and chanting.
The Benefits of Hatha:
Hatha has been shown to offer increased energy, less stress, better moods and sleep, and decreased anxiety.
It lowers blood pressure and can help you lose weight more easily by boosting your metabolism.
Who Can Practice It?
Hatha is ideal for people of all ages because it is low impact and you can work at a safe and sensible pace.
Even those with health issues can benefit from Hatha yoga.
When done carefully with the help of expert guidance, Hatha can help relieve back, joint and muscle pain.
The pranayama can help with allergies, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, or COPD.
Meditation helps improve focus, concentration and memory, all ideal for seniors who want to maintain a busy, active lifestyle no matter what their age.
With all of these benefits, now might be the best time to check out your local yoga studios to see which of them offer Hatha.
Try an introductory class and see what a difference Hatha yoga can make to your health.
Yoga is not just a form of exercise.
It is known to revitalize your body, mind and spirit as well.
The word yoga means union, and the best forms of yoga are those which allow you to improve all three.
Hatha yoga is the oldest of the yoga forms, dating back to 1,500 BC.
Kundalini is slightly more modern than that, having been developed in India in the 5th century AD and practiced as part of Tantric Buddhism.
What Is Tantra?
Tantra means union, that is, union of mind, body and spirit.
Instead of living in a cave and starving in order to make spiritual progress.
Tantric Buddhists incorporate all aspects of life into their spiritual path to perfection.
You don’t need to be a Buddhist to practice Kundalini yoga, since yoga is not a part of any religion.
Yoga is however a cornerstone of traditional Indian medicine, known as Ayurveda medicine.
Yoga as Healing:
Kundalini yoga was brought to the West in the late 1960s by Yogi Bhajan, a Sikh from India, who also founded the Yogi tea brand.
He set up teaching centers as part of the Happy, Healthy Holy Organization (3HO).
Kundalini yoga focuses on awakening your power within through two means, physical movement and mental improvement.
You can develop strength and power in all aspects of your life and use this power to achieve both your worldly goals and your higher self.
The word Kundalini means coiled.
It refers to two things.
The first is a form of vital life energy thought by Ayurveda practitioners to be coiled around the base of the spine.
By moving this energy through your body and harnessing whenever you wish, you can release your full potential of body, mind and spirit – the second meaning of Kundalini.
Why Kundalini Yoga Is Different?
Kundalini uses poses and breath work in a range of ways.
Rather than being done individually for their own sake, they are put into sets known as kriyas which are designed to accomplish certain goals.
These goals can range from boosting your energy and strengthening your immune system, to weight loss and lowering stress.
Some of the poses are special and used only in Kundalini yoga.
In addition to the poses, Kundalini uses special breath work, including one called Breath of Fire – rapid breathing in and out through the nose in the same way a dog would pant through its mouth.
The pattern is supposed to awaken the energy in the spine and move it upwards so it can be used in a range of ways.
It also gives the abs a great workout.
Kundalini works on the individual chakras of the body as well, to balance them.
The word chakra means vortex; the energy is pictured as spinning as a plate from the front of our body to our back.
There are seven chakras, each related to a certain form of energy.
For example, the heart chakra at the center of our chest is said to control our love and relationships.
A blocked or imbalanced chakra can lead to disharmony and poor health. An open and balanced one can lead to happier relationships.
Kundalini is also different because of the mantras and chanting.
If you love to sing, this is the right yoga for you.
This form of yoga can be done by people of all ages and physical conditions.
There are no levels so you can benefit from any class you attend.
If you are feeling “stuck” in certain parts of your life, see if there is a Kundalini studio near you and try it out to see what a difference it can make in your life.
Yoga means union, the union of mind, body and spirit.
There are a number of yoga’s to choose from.
The best yoga’s will combine all three.
However, many modern yoga’s focus mainly on the poses, or asanas, and tend to not focus as much on the meditation and breath work which are an essential part of Hatha yoga, the oldest form of yoga.
What Is Vinyasa Yoga?
Vinyasa is also known as flow yoga.
The word vinyasa means to place in a special way.
It uses the same asanas as Hatha yoga.
However, rather than each asana being done individually with a pause in between, the poses are organized into sequences whereby the body is in constant motion as it moves smoothly from one pose to the next.
The word vinyasa can also mean “breath-synchronized movement,” with the asanas being performed, held, and changed in conjunction with inhale and exhale patterns and a number of breaths being counted.
The most prominent teacher of vinyasa was K. Pattabhi Jois, who founded his own yoga institute in India in 1948 and helped popularize yoga throughout the world.
The Eight Limbs of Yoga:
Vinyasa flow yoga belongs to the ancient practice of Ashtanga yoga.
It is also known as Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga.
Ashtanga is a Sanskrit term which means “eight-limbed,” referring to a 2,000-year-old book about yoga which stated that the practice of yoga, or union, involves eight limbs, or arms and legs, to support it.
Two of the eight limbs are asana and pranayama, that is, poses and breathing.
Pranayama is a combination of two words, prana (life-force energy) and ayama (to move or regulate).
Through controlling our breathing, therefore, we can regulate our energy and use it to achieve our goals in life.
We can also use it for health and healing.
Yoga is part of Ayurveda, that is, traditional Indian medicine that has been used for centuries to bring the body back into balance.
Yoga for All:
The beauty of Vinyasa flow yoga is that it can be practiced by people of any age and ability.
The main trick is to learn the postures first, to then be able to move smoothly from one to the next.
Vinyasa is low-impact compared to Ashtanga, which is a good deal more strenuous and has seven levels (one beginner, two intermediate and four advanced).
With Vinyasa, you need focus and concentration as you move from one posture to the next and then hold it for a certain number of breaths before moving on to the next asana.
However, it is not high impact.
Different forms of breathing are used, though there is not as much pranayama and meditation compared with Hatha or Kundalini yoga, which are both also good for those new to yoga.
Due to its continuous movement, you have no time to get bored, plus Vinyasa has many beneficial physical effects such as improved circulation, digestion, flexibility and mental abilities such as concentration.
It relieves stiffness and lowers blood pressure, while reducing stress and improving mood.
Vinyasa will give you more energy and offer relief from depression and anxiety.
It can also improve your social skills as you attended classes and work with your teacher to improve your postures and flow.
If you are looking for an interesting and fun form of yoga, see if there is a Vinyasa or flow yoga studio near you, and see what a difference yoga can make to your mind, body and spirit.
There are many forms of yoga, some ancient, some modern, and often a combination of the two.
The Principles of Iyengar:
Iyengar yoga is a form of Hatha yoga. This school of yoga was founded by B. K. S. Iyengar in the 1970s in India.
It uses Hatha poses, but with an emphasis on detail, precision and perfect alignment in the performance of asanas (poses) and breath work.
In this way, the student will develop strength, mobility and stability through all the poses they work on.
Who Was Iyengar?
Before his death in 2014 at the age of 95, Iyengar was said to have perfected approximately 200 Hatha yoga poses.
This is a few the many that are available in Hatha, but if you enjoy seeking perfection in all you do, this could be the right yoga for you.
Iyengar taught yoga for more than 70 years and was the author of 40 books, including Light on Yoga: Yoga Dipika.
It is considered to be a definitive work on the power of yoga and its philosophy.
His impact on popularizing yoga in the West led Time magazine to name Iyengar as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2004.
He was awarded three of the four top honors for civilians in India in 1991, for positively affecting so many lives through yoga.
Iyengar taught many celebrities around the world yoga, including the world-renowned violinist and conductor Yehudi Menuhin, helping to make it more fashionable in the West.
Yoga for Healing:
Iyengar did not just teach yoga as a physical exercise, but as a treatment and even cure for illness as part of a holistic practice, known in India as Ayurveda medicine.
He also taught about the spirituality of yoga, thus caring for his students in terms of body, mind and spirit.
Yoga is not just about what you do when you are on your mat, but about the eight limbs of yoga, which include physical work, breath work, and meditation.
He illustrated the asanas he perfected in this works.
He also went into great detail about breath work, cleanliness, times of the day to practice, what to eat and when, and so on.
If you enjoy discipline and routine, you will also enjoy Iyengar.
A Detailed Yoga Program for Life:
As with all Hatha yoga, there are different levels.
Beginners start out with easy poses and then work their way up to more challenging ones.
The proper technique is emphasized with each pose and the instructions given for each.
As with Hatha, there are also a number of breathing techniques to learn to depend on what effects you wish to achieve in the body, such as boosting energy or getting rid of toxins from the body.
For those who wish to study on their own rather than attend class all the time, his book Light on Yoga.
Yoga Dipika gives as an appendix a 300-week yoga course mapped out for the “intense practitioner,” nearly six years of guided yoga lessons.
You can also learn different poses for different health benefits.
Some will relieve back pain and give you a solid set of core muscles.
thers will help you lose weight, improve digestion, or lift depression.
Iyengar sought to be the definitive yoga teacher to heal body, mind and spirit through Hatha.
If you like to exercise in a very structured way, look for an Iyengar studio near you or follow his guides to perfect your poses and breath work.
That was a lot of yoga information to digest.
Hope you learned more about yoga today.
I always do.
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Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purpose only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a dietitian before starting any fitness programme or making any changes to your diet