Yoga is like ice cream; there are many flavours and they all look good. The only way to truly decide which style of yoga works with your own unique characteristics is to try a few different kinds and choose the one that gives you the really good feeling; it puts you in that yum-I-love-this zone. YogaFlavouredLife.com has put together a sampler of each yoga style to help you with this quest for a better lifestyle.
All types of yoga share the same goal. The purpose of the exercise is to strengthen the connection between the mind and the movements of the body. This union brings inner strength and spiritual growth.
The physical movements or poses, called asanas, involved in the practice of yoga are called hatha. The hatha is done while controlling the breath (pranayama). Some styles of yoga combine hatha with meditation or chanting. Raja yoga is similar to hatha except that it concentrates mostly on the postures that prepare the body for mediation. This type of yoga is not as popular in the western world as hatha.
|‘Yoga’ is a Sanskrit word. It means to ‘yoke’ or bring the mind, body and spirit together.|
There are many different types of hatha yoga. There are more variations in the East than we have here in North America. The practice of yoga began more than 5000 years ago in India and has evolved into many different styles to accommodate many different beliefs and purposes. Hatha is a preparation of the body for extended periods of mediation. The practise of hatha makes a strong mind-body connection; it develops poise, balance and strength.
Yoga is an eight level system through which the body can progress. The first two levels deal with ethical obligations; breath control occupies another two; and, the remaining four levels focus on withdrawal of the senses, concentration, mediation and unity with a higher spiritual power. Movement through these 8 stages is a forward progression with each level having benefits and providing a pathway for succession to the next.
|The word Hatha is a compound of the words Ha and Tha meaning sun and moon (wikipedia)|
Some types of hatha yoga that are available on the western side of the world are:
Ashtanga yoga: This is a vigorous style that moves quickly through an established sequence of poses. Its focus is to strengthen flexibility, stamina and concentration. Ashtanga is the physical practise of hatha and raja.
Power yoga: This is a form of ashtanga. It focuses on the quick and precise execution of the poses. Baron Baptiste, in his unswerving devotion to Power yoga, has written a book called, Journey Into Power , which explains this intuitive rather than traditional style of practice.
Bikram yoga: The poses are practised in rooms that may be heated to 100 degrees Fahrenheit or 37.8 degrees Celsius. This form of yoga is developed and named after Bikram Choudhury who claims that the heat is beneficial to people with arthritis or who have very stiff muscles. Bikram challenges that his style of yoga is unique because each pose forms the base of the next one, creating a flow of movement that will optimize health.
Gentle yoga: The focus is more on slow stretching and deep breathing as a method of increasing flexibility and releasing tension. This adaptation is good for pre- and post-natal women, or people who have special physical challenges to overcome.
Kundalini yoga: Pre-determined poses accompany deep breathing, chanting and meditation to help strengthen the connection between the mind and the body, bringing inner strength to the spirit. Some believe that only Raja yoga truly moves through the 8 stages and that hatha is limited to 6 levels of progression. This school of thought has labelled the 6-level version of hatha, as Kundalini.
Iyengar yoga: Yoga poses are extended and perfected using benches, ropes, blocks and mats to help deepen the body experience and bring the focus of the exercise onto the alignment of the body.
Yoga classes are offered in a wide variety of settings. Private instructors teach and practise in studios arranged or built in their homes. Fitness centres and the YWCA/YMCA offer classes. Local libraries supply videos that can be used to view live classes before you attend one. Most instructors and clubs will let you try a class before committing yourself. Do be sure that your instructor is qualified. Authentic yoga certification that entails specialized training and practise teaching hours under a senior instructor is required to teach yoga in the western world.
For more information on choosing a style of yoga and getting ready for your first class, click to download our free yoga report.