Thursday, December 31, 2015

Types of Yoga

1. Ashtanga

Ashtanga is based on ancient yoga teachings, but it was popularized and brought to the West by Pattabhi Jois (pronounced "pah-tah-bee joyce") in the 1970s. The word ashtanga literally means, 8 limb yoga. It's a rigorous style of yoga that follows a specific sequence of postures on a path to purification, as each style links every movement to a breath. Ashtanga always performs the exact same poses in the exact same order. By bringing heat through the breath, you make your body boil, which in turn makes your body cleanse out toxins through the sweat. This is a hot, sweaty, physically demanding practice.

2. Bikram

Bikram Choudhury developed this school of yoga where classes are held in artificially heated rooms. In a Bikram class you will sweat like you've never sweat before as you work your way through a series of 26 poses, following a sequence (a sequence different from an ashtanga sequence) in a heated room around 90-104 degrees Fahrenheit. Each pose is usually performed twice and held for certain amount of time. They use the "breath of fire" in all Bikram classes. Bikram is somewhat controversial, as Choudhury has trademarked his sequence and has prosecuted studios who call themselves Bikram but don't teach the poses exactly the way he says they should. It is also wildly popular, making it one of the easiest types of classes to find. (You may hear the term, hot yoga, it is basically the same thing as bikram, but they do deviate from poses, so they must call themselves something different)

3. Hatha

The word Hatha means, willful or forceful.  Hatha yoga is a generic term that refers to any type of yoga that teaches physical postures. The postures are designed to open the many channels of the body--especially the main channel, the spine--so that energy can flow freely. Nearly every type of yoga class taught in the West is hatha yoga. When a class is marketed as hatha, it generally means that you will get a gentle introduction to the most basic yoga postures. Hatha yoga is a major tool for self-transformation and focuses on the breath. You will leave a class feeling longer, looser, and more relaxed.

4. Iyengar

Iyengar yoga was developed and popularized by B.K.S. Iyengar (pronounced "eye-yen-gar"). Iyengar was one of the best known yoga teachers and has a very meticulous style of yoga.  Proper attention is brought to finding the comfortable and appropriate alignment in a pose. In order to help each student find the proper alignment, an Iyengar studio will stock a wide array of yoga poses--blocks, blankets, straps, chairs, bolsters, and a rope wall are all common. There isn't a lot of jumping around in Iyengar classes, so you won't get your heart rate up, but you'll be amazed to discover how physically and mentally challenging it is to stay put. Iyengar teachers must undergo a comprehensive training – if you have an injury or chronic condition, Iyengar is probably your best choice to insure you get the knowledgeable instruction you need.


Kundalini was introduced to the western world in 1969 by a guy powerful healer and teacher named Yogi Bhajan. His father was a well known healer and doctor and his mother was a care taker of the children in their village and she possessed great strength and righteousness.  Kundalini  is known as the yoga of awareness. Its focus is on self-awareness and delivering an experience of your highest consciousness. It incorporates traditional yoga such as mediation, physical exercise, breathing, and mantras, all to elevate the mind and body connection with the spirit--which has no boundaries. 

6. Restorative

Restorative yoga is a wonderful way to relax and soothe uneasy nerves. Restorative classes use bolsters, blankets, and blocks to prop students in passive poses so that the body can experience the benefits of a pose without having to exert any effort. A good restorative class is more rejuvenating than a nap. Studios and gyms often offer them on Friday nights, when just about everyone could use a little profound rest.

7. Viniyoga

Viniyoga is all about adaptation for the student to bring about healing, flexibility and strengthen to all the joints. The breath is used to bring alignment and optimal movement for each individual. Understanding the body and the way it works is key in viniyoga, so a teacher must be well educated and understand general and specific bio-mechanics. Singing, chanting, reading religious verses, and mediating are all brought to a class to try and find harmony with the body.

8. Vinyasa

Vinyasa (pronounced "vin-yah-sah") is the Sanskrit word for "flow", and vinyasa classes are known for their fluid, movement-intensive practices. Vinyasa teachers choreograph their classes to smoothly transition from pose to pose, and often play music to keep things lively. The intensity of the practice is similar to Ashtanga, but no two vinyasa classes are the same. If you hate routine and love to test your physical limits, vinyasa may be just your ticket.

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