Guest Author - Terri Johansen
There are many styles of yoga to choose from. The most important thing is to pick a style that suits you, physically and mentally. Here are some of the most popular styles of yoga.
“The central philosophy of this yoga is that each person is equally divine in every part—body, mind, and spirit. Each student's various abilities and limitations are respected and honored.” This style of yoga is good for boosting your mood. It’s a good starting point in yoga if you are out of shape – you will not be pushed beyond your limits, and will learn proper alignment.
Ashtanga yoga is said to be handed down through ancient yoga teachings. In the 1970’s Pattabhi Jois reinvented it and it became vastly popular, and remains so. It is a vigorous style of yoga in which you follow a set sequence of poses and each pose flows into the next using Sun Salutations as the connection. It is said that you can lose weight by doing Ashtanga yoga as well as gaining cardio and strength. This is because of the fast pace and physical demands of the classes.
Bikram Choudhury came to the U.S. in 1971 intending on staying a short time. Bikram stayed in the U.S. and developed his own brand of yoga called “Bikram”. A class contains 26 poses done in order and each repeated twice. The real intensity is that the temperature in the classroom is set for close to 105 degrees and 40 percent humidity. It is said to be good for weight loss and building stamina. However these classes are intense and definitely not a place for the new yoga student.
Probably one of the best known styles in the world is the trademark Iyengar Yoga, “an intense focus on the subtleties of each posture.” In a typical Iyengar class poses, especially the standing poses, are held longer than in other schools of yoga. The practical aim here is not to make you suffer but to pay close attention to your bodies muscle and skeletal alignment. Another unique aspect of Iyengar yoga is the use of props which can include straps, chairs, blocks, and blankets. These props are used to help each individual reach structural balance.
Hatha yoga is the most popular yoga practiced in the U.S. today. When practicing Hatha Yoga you are practicing the third limb of the eight limbs of yoga. This style concentrates on physical and mental well-being. You should come to Hatha Yoga with an approach for attention, and without self-criticism. Limitations are acknowledged and with care can be carefully improved. Hatha yoga is gentle emphasizing that you should never overexert your body. Yoga stretches should be done to the best of your ability without comprising proper alignment.
At one time Kundalini yoga was a closely guarded secret, practiced only by a select few. In 1969 Yogi Bhajan brought this practice to the West. He decided to change the tradition, his reasoning based on “the philosophy that it’s everybody’s birthright to be ~~healthy, happy, and holy.” Kundalini can be a physically active class as you constantly move from one stimulating pose to the next. Chanting is used frequently in Kundalini as part of the movements and meditation. The intention of Kundalini aims more at the spiritual than just the physical. Kundalini is a class that will leave you full of energy and at the same time peaceful and meditative.
Yin yoga is a slow-paced style of yoga with poses or asanas that are held for longer periods of time—from one to twenty minutes. Yin yoga is different than other styles in that it focuses on connective tissues of the hips, pelvis, and lower spine. These areas are not normally used very much in a yoga class.
Yin yoga is suitable to all levels of students. It is somewhat passive and soothing, however you must be able to meet the challenge of the long holds. New students can work into this gradually.
It’s good to try several styles of yoga before selecting a class that suits you. There are many different styles of yoga available. I have listed here those that are considered the most popular.
Always check with a medical professional before starting yoga or any type of exercise routine. Live well, practice yoga.
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