Types of Yoga
There are many types of Yoga being taught today. Each one focuses on a different physical discipline, but, all are undertaken to improve the mind-body-spirit connection. The easiest way to decide which type of Yoga will be the best for you is to read a brief description of each, and try the ones that appeal to you. Some are very easy and free flowing, and others are much more demanding physically. Regardless of which type of Yoga practice you choose, the benefits will change your energy, and change how you move through your life.
I ABSOLUTELY LOVE all the different types of Yoga, and, in spite of what some people think, Yoga is not a particular religious practice, or method of worship. It is simply an individual path, or journey to find a "balance" in your life, using your own mind to focus on placing your physical body in certain positions that help to open your natural energy pathways, increase blood circulation, reduce blood pressure, relax, and focus. With all of the different types of Yoga, there is a style for everyone!Click here for more information on the benefits of Yoga.
Here is a guide to a few of the many different types of Yoga styles, and a brief description of each. Remember, as you read the different names, that they are written in the ancient Sanskrit language, and it is not necessary to be able to pronounce the name to do the particular type of Yoga!
You can really do either one, or both. I enjoy doing my Hatha Yoga and meditation at home, but I’ve also had many years of classes focused on different types of Yoga. It just really depends on your comfort level, personal discipline (will you do your classes at home?), and daily time schedule. It also depends on which type of Yoga you choose, as some are more difficult than others, and you can benefit more starting with an experienced teacher. You really don’t need any expensive equipment.
Here are a few items that will make your practice easier.
• 1/4'' Extra Thick Deluxe Yoga Mat that will keep your feet from slipping (really a good idea for all types of Yoga!);
• 10' D-Ring Buckle Cotton Yoga Strap, or, a 6' D-Ring Buckle Cotton Yoga Strap for stretching more comfortably;
• “Props”, such as a 3'' Foam Yoga Block that will help you to relax into the pose, even if you are not very flexible; If your would prefer natural cork blocks, they are available as well.
• A great way to practice at home is with music & instructional DVDs. It's almost like having a teacher “in your living room”.I highly recommend (Hatha Yoga) since it is so adaptable to either a beginner or advanced yoga student.
• To help you relax, and get the most benefit from your practices, choose your own custom Yoga Music and meditation and relaxation kits.
For everyone who is considering beginning a Yoga practice, I would recommend going to a class before signing up so that you can observe the instructor, especially with some of the more difficult types of Yoga, such as Iyengar Yoga, or Ashtanga Yoga.
What you are looking for is an instructor who is walking around during the class helping to put students into the proper positions so that they get the maximum benefit from the pose, and so that they do not hurt themselves.
Stay away from what I call an “exhibitionist instructor”. This is someone who is doing all of these incredible poses perfectly, while his or her students are receiving no personal help.
The DVDs are a great way to have “in-home” instruction, and you can really benefit from them.
This is my favorite type of Yoga, and one that I would highly recommend for the beginner, or the intermediate practitioner. I have been practicing for over 40 years, and, there are always new insights and benefits from my practices. It is very “malleable” meaning that you can easily adapt it to your comfort level, and your physical abilities.
Hatha Yoga encompasses many of the different “asanas”, or physical “Yoga postures”. This type of Yoga can be from slow and flowing gentle asanas to the more rigorous standing and balancing postures. A Hatha Yoga class is a great way to be introduced into the world of Yoga.
Vinyasa Yoga is a more physically demanding Yoga style with a foundation of full body poses called “Sun Salutations”, in which physical movement is coordinated with focus on inhaling your breath, and exhaling your breath as you move through the posture. A Vinyasa Yoga class will generally begin with a series of sun salutations to warm up the body, focus the breath, lengthen the muscles and prepare you for the more intense and demanding asanas for the duration of the class.
Ashtanga Yoga is an almost precision type of Yoga. It is very focused, intense, and physically demanding, following a precise series of asanas, always in the same order. Ashtanga Yoga practice is a work out! There is a constant flow from one posture into the next, incorporating most of the muscle groups in your body. The result is incredible strength, balance and energy.
This series of poses may be a bit of a challenge to the beginning Yoga student, but if you are looking for fast, noticeable results with your practice, this type of Yoga will give them to you.
Another form of Ashtanga Yoga is “Power Yoga”, but it is not based on the strict order of the series of poses in traditional Ashtanga Yoga.
If you love standing strength and control, Iyengar Yoga may be for you. Iyengar Yoga is focused on proper bodily alignment. In every type of yoga, there is a precise way in which your body should be positioned in each asana. A good Iyengar Yoga teacher will always be walking around the class re-positioning each student so that he or she receives the maximum benefit from the posture, and avoids injury.
Iyengar Yoga also focuses on holding the postures for long periods versus flowing from one pose to the next. This is both a challenge, and incredibly strengthening for your body. It is also common in Iyengar practice to use props such as a block if you can’t comfortably reach the floor with your hand.
These props help you to maintain the proper posture for the asana. Just doing Iyengar Yoga, or any other type of Yoga, without props can result in a loss of benefits from the pose, and, in some cases, you can injure yourself if you are out of alignment. Props, such as a 3'' Foam Yoga Block will help you to relax into the pose, even if you are not very flexible;
As with other forms of Yoga, Kundalini Yoga uses the breath to powerfully coordinate and strengthen Yoga asanas in a way that helps to open up the energy centers in your bodily core and move it upwards. This energy is sometimes called “Shakti”, and is very intense spiritual energy that we all possess but are, for the most part, unaware of.
The process of Kundalini Yoga unfolding this energy invigorates your total energy level, and opens your inner spiritual energy allowing you to more completely reach your potential. This is another one of my favorite types of Yoga! Again, props, will help you in the pose;
This type of Yoga, Bikram, is generally referred to “Hot Yoga” , since it takes place in a very hot environment, like a 95 to 100 degree studio. The heat helps with muscle flexibility and encourages the opening of the pores in your skin to help cleanse the system of impurities and toxins, while at the same time increasing blood flow and oxygen to the cells. Most Bikram Yoga classes use a set series of 26 different postures.
Founded by John Friend, Anusara Yoga places strong focus on proper body alignment, breath, and opening of the heart. The mindful discipline as you practice the postures in this type of Yoga, is the belief in the deep goodness within all beings, without exception.
Anusara Yoga classes are generally gentle Yoga asanas, and, thus easier for students of differing physical abilities.
Jivamukti Yoga is an offshoot of Ashtanga Yoga. It focuses on chanting, meditation, spiritual teachings and asanas. Jivamukti Yoga classes are physically challenging, and usually will include some chanting. A great way to enhance your home practice is with Music & DVDs.
Forrest Yoga focuses on a series or flow of asanas. This is a physically demanding, sometimes emotionally intense type of Yoga. If practiced on a regular basis, fundamental body strength, improved breathing and better health are a benefit. Classes are a workout!
Kripalu Yoga is a practice with a gentle focus on meditation, physical empowerment and spiritual growth as a way of everyday life. This type of Yoga also encourages the student to find his or her own pace and balance in their practice.
Integral Yoga incorporates gentle, less demanding Hatha Yoga postures as well as breath focus, some chanting and meditation.
Moksha Yoga uses a series of 40 or more asanas performed in a hot (95-100 degree) room or studio. The focus in this type of Yoga is a for an overall improvement in health.
Props and assists are used extensively in Restorative Yoga to help the student stay in the postures longer. In all types of Yoga, proper alignment is key so that you will experience the maximum benefits of each posture without over stretching muscles. This allows the body to be more relaxed, and open more fully encouraging increased circulation, and more efficient functioning of the endocrine system which helps to remove toxins from the body.
Some of the props used include: blocks; bolsters; blankets; chairs; straps, and the wall.
Sivananda Yoga has 5 areas of focus:
1. Correct asanas (using a basic 12 postures);
2. Mindful breathing (Pranayama);
3. Mindful relaxation (Savasana);
4. Supportive vegetarian diet;
5. Positive mental state and focused meditation (Dhyana).
In Yin Yoga, one of the main focus areas is on stretching connective tissues around the joints, and well as muscle tissue. In this type of Yoga, Asanas are held for longer periods, allowing a deeper, more complete opening of the joints. The benefits include a more natural freedom of movement in everyday physical activities, as well as a calmer, more relaxed body during other development exercises such as mediation, where sitting for long periods of time can be challenging.
Using Yoga props, such as Round Cotton Zafu Meditation Cushion, or a Pranayama Cotton Yoga Bolster will help you to relax into the pose, without feeling stress, and allow your joints to open and relax into your new-found flexibility, so that you don't overextend your muscles.
Yoga practice is meant to benefit all people, regardless of their religious beliefs. Many devout Christians who are interested in the positive physical results of Yoga are sometimes uncomfortable with Yoga’s history and connection in the past to Hinduism, including the area of chanting.
Christians who see Yoga practices as a way to improve their physical health through the postures in Yoga, are also able to adapt the focus, and meditations to the Bible, thus customizing the practices to the Christian belief system for all types of Yoga.
This is important for all religions, including Christians to understand:
All types of Yoga postures, through relaxing and opening the physical body, also opens your spiritual center, which, in turn deepens your ability to incorporate your religion more deeply into your everyday life.
Typically, a Christian Yoga class can open with mindful breathing and a meditation based on a teaching from the Bible. This is an incredibly powerful way to assist individuals with scriptural focus both with the body, with the breath, and with the mind. Even the chanting in some types of Yoga can be adapted to a harmonious , repetitive reading of a particular section of the Bible.
Christian Yoga is a wonderful way to enhance and deepen your faith, as you relax the troublesome body and mind through simple physical stretches and exercises found in the different types of Yoga. These can be called by whatever name a person is comfortable with, such as “Glory to God” stretching.
Bottom line is: the focus is Christian, and is simply using a proven knowledge base, Yoga, to increase the health of the worshippers, and deepen the spiritual focus and benefits through full focus throughout, on Biblical teachings.
Wow! There you have it! I love Yoga! I’ll bet you had no idea that there were so many different types of Yoga!
Yoga is a way for you to move your life towards improved health through practicing postures, increasing breath, and focusing your mind through meditation or concentration. It is 100% under YOUR control. Once you start with Yoga, it will probably be for your lifetime, it should be almost a habit in the same category of stretching your arms above your head when you get up in the morning.
• Improved flexibility;
• Stress reduction;
• Detoxification of the body;
• Increased oxygen to every cell;
• Improved muscle tone;
• Weight management;
• Improved concentration;
• Deepening of spiritual focus for your religious beliefs;
• Improved digestion;
• A more relaxed physical position in your life.
I know personally, after over 40 years of practicing different types of Yoga, that you will achieve all of these benefits…and more! You just feel good, all over!