Yoga is a fabulous way to relax the mind, lengthen the muscles of the body whilst realigning postural inconsistencies. The mind is often one of the reasons for muscular tension, so learning to focus the mind, de-stress and lengthen the muscles of the body to reduce the impact of everyday life is often the perfect solution.
Your guide to the different styles of Yoga
There are many different styles of yoga being taught and practiced today. Although all of the styles are based on the same physical postures (called poses), each has a particular emphasis. Here is a quick guide to the most popular types of yoga that can help you decode the schedule at your gym and figure out which class is right for you:
Hatha is a very general term that can encompass many of the physical types of yoga. If a class is described as Hatha style, it is probably going to be slow-paced and gentle and provide a good introduction to the basic yoga poses. Ideal for beginners or people who are not so flexible.
Like Hatha, Vinyasa is a general term that is used to describe many different types of classes. Vinyasa, which means breath-synchronized movement, tends to be a more vigorous style based on the performance of a series of poses called “sun salutations”. A Vinyasa class will typically start with a number of Sun Salutations to warm up the body for more intense stretching that’s done at the end of class.
Ashtanga or Power Yoga
Ashtanga is a fast-paced intense style of yoga. A set series of poses are performed, always in the same order. Ashtanga practice is very physically demanding because of the constant movement from one pose to the next, in yoga this is called flow. Ashtanga is also the inspiration for what is often called Power Yoga. If a class is described as Power Yoga it will be based on the flowing style of Ashtanga, but won’t neccessarily keep strictly to the set Ashtanga series of poses.
Based on the teachings of the yogi B.K.S Iyengar, this style of practice is most concerned with bodily alignment. In yoga, the word alignment is used to describe the precise way in which your body should be positioned in each pose in order to obtain the maximum benefits and avoid injury. Iyengar practice usually emphasizes holding poses over long periods instead of moving quickly from one pose to the next. Also, Iyengar practice encourages the use of props such as: yoga blankets, blocks and straps. These help bring the body into proper controlled alignment.
The emphasis in Kundalini yoga is on the breath in conjunction with physical movement. The aim is to free up energy in the lower body and allow it to move upwards. All asana practices make use of controlled breathing, but in Kundalini the exploration of the effects of the breath on the postures is essential.
Pioneered by Bikram Choudhury, this style is more generally referred to as hot yoga. It is practiced in a 95 to 100 degree room, which allows for a loosening of tight muscles and causes profuse sweating(great for detoxing). The Bikram style is a set series of 26 poses, but not all hot yoga classes encompass all 26 poses.
Viniyoga is all about adaptation. Viniyoga is based on the guru/student model in which an experienced teacher works individually with each student making a personalized yoga program for them based on such factors as health, age, and physical condition, including past or current injuries.
Sivananda yoga is based upon five principles:
1. Proper exercise – focusing on 12 poses in particular.
2. Focused breathing.
3 – Focused relaxation.
4 – Correct diet (Vegetarian)
5 – Positive thinking and meditation.
The first Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center was founded in 1959 by Swami Vishnu-devananda, a disciple of Swami Sivananda. There are now close to 80 locations worldwide, including several ashram retreats.
Founded in 1997 by John Friend, Anusara combines a strong emphasis on physical alignment with a positive philosophy derived from Tantra. The philosophys premise is belief in the intrinsic goodness of all beings. Anusara classes are usually light-hearted and accessible to students of differing abilities. Poses are taught in a way that opens the heart, both physically and mentally.
In Yin Yoga, poses are held for several minutes at a time in order to the stretch the connective tissue around the joints. Yin Yoga directly addresses the demands that sitting still in one position for a long time places on the body by focusing on stretching connective tissue instead of muscle.
In restorative yoga props are used for support so that you can hold poses for longer, allowing you to open your body through passive stretching. Restorative postures are usually adapted from supine or seated yoga poses with the addition of blocks, bolsters, and blankets to eliminate unnecessary straining.
There are many more types of yoga, but i would say that the above are the most common and the styles of yoga that you are most likely to come across.
Faye believes each body requires a minimum input of a particular essential fitness ingredient, be it: a cleaner diet, clearer mindset, better scheduled training sessions, more relaxation, some functional training or just a general lifestyle tweak or two.