Last week, we began our exploration of yoga, and how the origins of yoga derive from ancient Indian traditions. Today, the term yoga is used to refer to many forms of meditation and exercise.Â Hatha yoga is a meditative practice that focuses on stretching and breathing.Â But what if you want something more interactive so you can work up a sweat?Â Try one of the many types of Vinyasa yoga for toning and tightening.
Vinyasa yoga is characterized by the relationship between movement and breath. Often referred to as â€œflowâ€ yoga because you exhale when you change poses (and a natural flow of harmony ensues). Vinyasa encompasses a broad range of yoga classes, but it is more physical than Hatha yoga.
Vinyasa includes 6 varieties:
Developed by John Friend in 1997, Anusara incorporates exercise with a life philosophy. Its core beliefs include the inherent goodness of all beings and a Vinyasa style yoga practice. Anusara translates to â€œflowing with Graceâ€ or â€œfollowing your heartâ€ (a maxim I think we should all take the time to remind ourselves).
Anusara focuses on backbending and improving physical alignment in order to open the heart. An instructor will give you specific verbal cues that prompt the right alignment amongst your bones, muscles, and organs. The goal is to transfer the physical lessons learned in yoga class to daily life.Â This type of yoga is great for people searching for spiritual and physical training (because it is an inspiring philosophy and challenging workout).
Ashtanga practices are an interpretation of the eight limbs of yoga (remember we learned that in Hinduism there are eight limbs of yoga?). Pattabhi Jois popularized Ashtanga yoga and created an institute to teach its principles. Ashtanga is more structured than Anusara and involves 6 specific series of postures. A precise breathing pattern organizes these poses, which are always done in the same order.Â Why choose Ashtanga?Â Ashtanga improves flexibility, tendon and hard tissue strength. This type of yoga is for people who want a workout that makes them sweat (and that they can do on their own wherever they want).
Hot yoga is a series of yoga poses performed in a heated room (between 95 and 100 degrees). This vigorous type of yoga promotes sweating and improves flexibility.Â (Remember to drink lots of water and wear lightweight clothing!) Bikram YogaÂ was founded by Bikram Choudhury and is characterized by a series of 26 poses.Â Two pranayama (breathing) exercises are performed twice during the 90 minutes session.
Founded by David Life and Sharon Gannon in 1984, this type of yoga combines aspects of ashtanga yoga with Pattabhi Joisâ€™ spiritual beliefs. Jivamukti means â€œliberation while livingâ€ and this conveys its ultimate goal of personal enlightenment.Â Jivamukti classes are comprised of spiritual (yoga scripture reading, chanting, meditation) and physical (poses, breath and music). They are vigorous and typically centered around a theme.
Kundalini is an ancient discipline popularized in the US by Yogi Bhajan in 1969. Bhajan uses the 3HO (the Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization) to spread teachings that endeavor to awaken your consciousness and spirituality. Kundalini yoga employs various poses in conjunction with a specific breathing pattern in order to release prana (unused energy) and allow it to move upwards. Kundalini classes usually begin with a short chant and stretching (to reduce the risk of injury and improve flexibility), and end with mediation and a closing song. (Donâ€™t be fooled- while this type of yoga has many spiritual elements, it is also physically demanding!)
Power yoga is a broad term that refers to many fitness-based approaches to Vinyasa-style yoga. It became popular in the US in the 1990s and makes Ashtanga yoga more accessible. Power yoga classes differ widely because there is not a series of set poses.Â There is minimal emphasis on mediation and chanting because the primary goal is breaking a sweat and getting in shape.
Stay Tuned: Next week we will explore the importance of breathing during exercise and the influence of pranayama in yoga. Be ready!
* Speak Up: What types of Yoga have you tried?
Want to get outside, feel fit or find new ways to tone your body? Cara Murphy will help you tap into your inner athlete, no matter where you are at in your life. To submit your own questions, comments and suggestions, please contact Cara at firstname.lastname@example.org.