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Physical Yoga and its different styles

yoga and its different styles

Plain and simple, Yog means the union between the body, mind, & soul. Physical yoga or Asana is the third limb of Ashtanga yoga, the eightfold path outlined in the yog sutras attributed to sage Patanjali. Yogasana practice is also called Hath yoga – the yoga for health. It involves physical poses, concentration, & deep breathing. Basically, the acts performed on the mat. Hath yoga is a blanket term for all types and styles of physical yoga. It helps boost physical and mental well-being. Yogasanas encompass balance, proper stretching techniques, mudras and chanting.  

Different styles of yoga- Iyengar yoga
Yoga and its different styles- The Third limb of Ashtanga Yoga
Hot Yoga and Bikram Yoga are performed in temperature controlled humid environment

One of the basic principles of yoga is to never push your body over the edge or do anything beyond your capacity. So nowadays you see a variety of yoga styles wherein you can choose the one that is right for you. 

There are several styles of yoga, and you cannot call any of them superior to the other. The key is choosing a style appropriate for your fitness level. Each style has its unique benefits.

Some of the popular styles are:

Bikram Yoga and Hot Styles of Yoga

It is also known as “hot” yoga, Bikram yoga sessions are conducted in artificially heated rooms. These are vigorous sequences done in a hot and humid environment- natural or created. The temperature should be around 105 degrees Fahrenheit with humidity at 40%. It contains a group of 26 poses performed in a particular sequence. All hot yogas are not Bikram yoga.

This variant was evolved by Bikram Choudhary in the 1970s, so it carries his name. Although Mr Bikam tried to patent this style and claimed that it cannot be practised or taught without him. However, it did not happen. A lot of other controversies also occurred henceforth and now fitness centres offer just ‘hot yoga’ instead of Bikram, though they could be just yoga performed in a heated room.

Hot yoga stretches the muscles, tendons and ligaments. It also detoxifies the body in many ways. It is a challenging style, and may not agree with the faint-hearted.

Iyengar yoga

Iyengar yoga takes its name from its founder BKS Iyengar. This style was evolved to make yoga accessible to everyone, even those who are dealing with a physical condition. For seekers who want to grow spiritually as well, the Iyengar form is highly suitable. It is known for its focus on precision, correct alignment in each pose and the use of props. These props can be blocks, blankets, straps, chairs, and bolsters. Regular practice of the Iyengar style melds the body, mind & emotions. One needs to undergo vigorous training and evaluation to become a certified Iyengar trainer. 

Regular practice of the Iyengar style helps the doer progress beyond the physical body to the deeper layers of the subtle body. It helps one gain vitality, clarity, and calm. One can practice it at any age. Iyengar improves flexibility, builds strength, improves posture, reduces stress levels and increases energy levels.

Jivamukti yoga

Literally, Jivamukti means “freedom while living.” This style emerged in 1984 and incorporated spiritual practices focussing on a paced flow between the asanas rather than the asanas themselves. This focus is known as vinyasa. Each class is thematic, combining chanting, meditation, asana, pranayama, and music. Jivamukti’s style is pretty intense and challenging. The beginner vinyasa classes are, although, easier to adapt. Jivamukti combines yoga as exercise with spiritual practices revolving around five tenets- shastra (reading the scriptures), bhakti (devotion), ahinsa (nonviolence), nāda (music), and dhyana (meditation). They also propagate animal rights and veganism.

Viniyoga

Viniyoga, the legacy of Guru Krishnamacharya, is based on the guru/student model in which an experienced yog trainer functions individually with each student. The teachers develop a personalized program for students based on health, age, and physical condition, including past or current illnesses. 

Viniyoga adopts an individualistic approach

Yin

This is a quiet, contemplative yoga practice, also called Taoist yoga. It is a slow-paced yoga, where you hold poses for longer times(up to 5 minutes) and use props. Yin style works deeply into your connective tissues with passive, longer-held poses. It allows the release of tension in key joints, including the ankles, knees, hips, the whole back, neck and shoulders. 

The passive poses in Yin let gravity manifest most of the force and effort.

Prenatal yoga

Prenatal yoga uses postures that practitioners have designed for women who are pregnant. It can help them in getting back into shape after childbirth as well as support their health during pregnancy.

Restorative yoga:

Yoga Nidra – a guided meditation that allows one to glide blissfully between sleep and wake

This is a relaxing method of the ancient practice. Restorative yoga is for convalescence and focuses on the release of mind-body tension and bringing the nervous system into a state of healing. You would typically spend a restorative yoga class in 4 or 5 simple postures, using props like blankets and blocks to sink into deep relaxation without exercising much effort in holding an asana.

Some teachers may even guide you through yoga nidra – a guided meditation that allows one to glide blissfully between sleep and wake

Kundalini Yoga:

‘Translated from Sanskrit ”Kundalini” refers to the life force or prana that is stored in the spine. This style of yoga unlocks this energy and reduces stress and negative thinking. 

This is accomplished by challenging both mind and body with spiritual practices such as Om chanting, devotional songs, meditation, and kriyas, which are a special sequence of asanas combined with breath work. Typically, a kundalini class starts with a mantra and ends with a final relaxation and meditation.

Power yoga

Practitioners in the West developed this athletic type of yoga in the 1980s and performed it in a gym. It focuses more on burning calories and is pretty vigorous and fast.

Sivananda:

This is a system based on a 5-point ideology. This doctrine preserves that appropriate breathing, relaxation, diet, exercise, and positive thinking have to be combined for a wholesome yogic lifestyle. Sivananda style consists of twelve 12 fundamental asanas, followed by Surya namaskars and shavasana.

Choosing from styles of yoga

Choose a style that suits your fitness level and medical conditions. It should be an authentic style and conducted by a certified professional. Yoga’s benefits affect each person in a different way. Many find that it helps them relax; others find themselves feeling fitter and more energetic. All the body systems and chakras become balanced with yoga. After Yama and Niyama, Yoga asanas are the third limb of Ashtang Yoga after which comes the fourth limb- Pranayama. 

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