Thursday, 27 April 2017

A beginners' guide to yoga styles

There are so many yoga styles that it can be a little confusing when you are starting out on your yoga journey. Below is a brief guide to some of the yoga styles that you might want to choose from:-

Hatha yoga is the 'umbrella' term for most styles of yoga practiced in the west.  'Ha' refers to the masculine energy which is hot and active and 'tha' refers to the feminine energy which is cool, receptive and nurturing. Both of these energies are present in all of us whether male or female and hatha yoga seeks to balance the two energies through physical postures (asana), breathing practices (pranayama) and meditation.  The practice calms the mind by anchoring to the present moment and ultimately is a tool for self-transformation.

Anusara yoga was developed by John Friend.  The three key elements of Anusara are Attitude, Aligment and Action.  Attitude involves 'opening to grace', that is being open to the divine energy within and setting an intention for the practice.  Alignment is according to universal principles of alignment and action is putting them into practice.

Vinyassa yoga is a vigorous flow from one yoga posture to the next working with the breath - a yoga workout.

Ashtanga yoga is a type of vinyassa yoga.  Ashtanga means 8 limbs and is based on the 8 limbs of yoga in Patanjali's (the founder of yoga) yoga sutras. Asana, posture work is just one of these limbs. An Ashtanga practice starts with several rounds of Sun Salutations (please see my 'Yoga pose gallery' for Sun Salutations A and B  These are followed by one of six series of asana practice of increasing difficulty.  

Iyengar yoga is a type of yoga developed by BKS Iyengar. The emphasis is on precision, alignment and breath control with extensive use of props (blocks, bolsters, yoga straps etc) to allow the practitioner to open gradually with sustained effort.  

Kundalini yoga is based on the idea that there is a coiled up energy at the base of the spine resembling a snake, the kundalini.  The practice consists of a series of movements rather than asanas which are called kryias.  These kryias uncoil the kundalini so that it moves up the spine energizing the chakras, which are the energy vortexes which are in line with the spine.  It is detoxifying, helps boost immunity and balances hormones.  

Hot yoga, otherwise known as Bikram yoga is yoga that is practiced at 40 degree Celsius and in humid conditions. It is not for everyone as it is very intense so if you are thinking of trying hot yoga and have any health concerns you must check with your doctor.

There are other styles of yoga but these are the ones you are most likely to come across.

Next week we will be looking at the 8 limbs of yoga in more detail.

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