Yoga Styles

November 1, 2017

"In life there are no things to fear, but things to understand" Marie Curie



Within the extensive tree of Yoga, in which we can find different subdivisions based on different approaches and practices, such as Jnana Yoga, Raja Yoga, Laya Yoga, Karma Yoga or Nidra Yoga, among others, we find the Hatha Yoga, which corresponds to the best known form in the West, both for its undeniable "physical" and "tangible" dye as well as for its practicality. The word Hatha is formed by Ha, which means sun and Tha, which means moon, both in Sanskrit, the classical language of India that rules Yoga. 


Be aware to the fact that I will not mention here all the schools, only the most known ones and those that have to do with me in one or another way. Try to have a special connection with the center, style or teacher you find, that is very important. Although I will not mention aspects of its foundation, history or precursors, by reading them you can get a pretty clear idea about what they offer and choose the one that suits you best or suits your needs. Remember that there are many teachers and centers that handle more than one style and mix elements of various teachings at the same time and this is totally valid. Here we go!


- Anusara Yoga: It is especially known in America and it is seen as a fairly comprehensive practice that encompasses Yoga in all its dimensions: physical, energetic, mental, and spiritual. Anusara means flowing with grace. It comes from Iyengar and Ashtanga and is based on several philosophical principles of Tantra Yoga. A class includes technical aspects such as the alignment of the body, based on the application of certain concepts as "internal or external rotation", and other less physical such as meditation or singing. The classes, systematically designed by the teacher who chooses the group of positions to work, are progressive to achieve the main position of the day or the "climax" position, to end in a long relaxation. On the other hand, physical work is always accompanied by a thematic and inspirational approach that recreates our practice and helps us to perform a psychological work at the same time as the physical, so that the class becomes a moment to work in a therapeutic way.


- Iyengar Yoga: This type of Yoga maintains a very precise vision of the postures and pays special attention to the physical details of the practice and the mechanicity of the body, becoming a suitable style for beginners or for people who want to improve the alignment of their bodies or have very specific health problems. The progress in practice occurs slowly and by states and usually maintain the positions for longer. The use of Props or yoga material (blocks, belts, cushions, special chairs, and blankets) is especially important in Iyengar Yoga, helping us to practice safely and responsibly, no matter the level. Even when some teachers use certain mantras to start the class, meditations, a long final relaxation or the mention of other more intangible aspects of Yoga are not so common in the classes, which are more focused on physical technique than on anything else.


- Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga: This hatha Yoga style is perhaps the most vigorous and dynamic. If you want to work aerobically and look for flexibility, strength, body tone, an increase of energy and the clearing of your mind, this is perhaps the Yoga style for you. In this system breathing and movement come together until reaching the body's warmth, and it uses the technique of Ujayi breathing or "victorious breathing" and also some retentions or "Bands" to focus the mind meditatively during the practice. You can practice with enough intensity and a certain level of difficulty, which is not recommended for beginners, especially if they are people unaccustomed to physical activity or with problems in the knees. As our flexibility increases through physical warmth, we must take special care when performing certain stretches


- Satyananda Yoga: The Satyananda school has a very holistic and spiritual perspective. Its practice points towards the development of our consciousness and the awakening and evolution of the inner being. Classes include Asanas (postures) including fluid movement between them to activate and mobilise the energy, Pranayamas (breathing exercises), deep relaxation and meditations based on Raja, Kundalini, Jnana and Kriya Yoga. Since all bases are covered, anyone, can adapt to this style, those more interested in the spiritual and philosophical part of yoga, as those who are attracted to the intellectual or physical approach.


- Kundalini Yoga: This yoga school focuses on its spiritual and energetic dimension. Kundalini is the name given to the energy that is "coiled" at the base of the spine, which seeks to be awakened and activated, in order to achieve realization. Classes can vary greatly from one to another and if you have a specific objective the teacher will design a personalized program that must be followed individually, at home, for 40, 90 days or more. The Kriyas or series will be design depending on the needs of practitioners, making it a quite plural style that includes all kinds of techniques, such as songs, mantras, asanas, bandhas, and pranayama or breathing exercises. It will work for all those who are interested in meditation and want to experience higher states of consciousness.


- Sivananda Yoga: This style is ideal for those who enjoy mixing between physical and devotional practices. Its classes include short songs and breathing exercises, and from there, asanas are performed. One of its most important characteristics is that in each class the same cycle of 12 postures is repeated, designed to stimulate the chakras or energy centers in a specific order, from the chakra "base" to the chakra "coronary". In the end, a deep relaxation or Savasana is done. It is recommended for beginners because, by repeating the same cycle of postures again and again, a deep understanding of them is reached. On the contrary it is not so recommended for people who enjoy the variety and who wish to experiment with the multiple range of physical positions offered by Hatha Yoga. Sivananda gives less importance to the alignment of the body to focus more on breathing, devotional singing or the execution of certain mantras.


- Bikram Yoga: Also known as "Hot Yoga" or "Sauna Yoga" is composed by series of 2 breathing exercises combined with 24 postures, always the same ones, followed by final relaxation or Savasana. The classes are performed inside a room conditioned with a temperature of 36 to 42 degrees, which produces a consequent sweating, elimination of toxins and deep stretching of the muscles. The practice at high temperatures in a closed place becomes a pleasure for many people who find this style a real challenge and prefer a vigorous and active practice. Some importance is given to the alignment of the body and verbal indications are given for that. The only materials to use are the wall and it is practiced in light clothes or swimsuits, due to the sweating. The posture program does not include invertions.




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