Yoga comes from the Sanskrit word yuj. It represents a union of your soul or consciousness with the Universal Spirit. It is considered a discipline technique involving mental, physical and spiritual practices with origins in India more than 5000 years ago. A female yoga practitioner is called a yogini while a male is referred to as a yogi. Yoga involves much more than exercise and it integrates your emotions to spiritual advancement involving every area of your life.
Types of Yoga
There are several types of yoga in existence today. These include, Hatha yoga, Acro yoga, Ashtanga yoga, Iyengar yoga, Kundalini yoga, Jivamukti yoga, Bikram yoga, Power yoga, Prenatal yoga, Restorative yoga, Tantra yoga and Vinyasa yoga. Each type of yoga is not entirely independent, sometimes combinations of two or more are carried out in a session. The following are the most popular types of yoga.
1. Hatha Yoga
Hatha is a Sanskrit word translated to mean the practice of physical yoga. Hatha yoga expresses a collection of physical exercises and sequences intended to align your muscles, skin and bones. These postures are aimed at unlocking your body channels especially the spine, to allow free flow of energy. Hatha can also be translated as sun (ha) and moon (tha). The hot, active sun is masculine while the cool moon is considered female. Hatha indicates an equilibrium between the feminine and masculine traits within you. Hatha yoga teaches you to balance flexibility, effort and strength. A typical Hatha class involves meditation, breathing and simple postures acting as an effective tool towards self-transformation.
2. Bikram Yoga
Bikram Choudhury developed this type of yoga from techniques of hatha yoga. The yoga official classes have Bikram-certified instructors who have undergone a 9-week training authorized by Choudhury. A bikram yoga beginners class consists of 26 postures, two breathing exercises and runs for a period of 90 minutes. The teacher-student dialogue is standardized such as to remain the same globally. Instructors don’t demonstrate moves but are instructed to explain the flow in the moving meditation.
It is considered a hot yoga style because its practiced in a room with 40% humidity heated to 95–108 °F (35–42 °C). This environment enhances flexibility, reduces stress and allows your body to detox. Because of the high temperatures, some risks are associated with bikram yoga. If you don’t drink sufficient water, excess sweating can lead to dehydration. Increased flexibility can predispose you to overstretching resulting in sprains. This yoga can worsen multiple sclerosis symptoms and you face some risk of developing heat stroke during a class.
Do further research before you try this type of yoga.
3. Kundalini Yoga
It originated from tantric yoga tradition. Yogi Bhajan, a Sikh leader, publicized it in 1969. It is also known as Laya yoga or the yoga of awareness. Kundalini yoga is summed up as a tri-fold method incorporating Shakti yoga, Bhakti yoga, and Raja yoga. It aims to nurture your spiritual potential to speak truth, sustain values, and enhance the consciousness you require to serve others. Regular practice of this type of yoga enables you to free yourself from karma and fulfill your life purpose.
Its goal is to stir up the energy located at the base of your spine. Once stirred, the energy is pulled through the body enhancing sensory awareness. Kundalini signifies spiritual energy situated at the lower end of your spine symbolized by a coiled serpent. Kundalini yoga is believed to awaken the sleeping kundalini shakti from the base through the 7 chakras resulting in enhanced consciousness. Chakras are focal points along which energy moves supplying energy all over the body. One can achieve awakening through regular meditation, vibrant breathing procedures and chanting mantra.
4. Ashtanga Yoga
Its literal translation is “eight-limbed yoga”. These limbs are outlined in the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali collection, a major foundation in the philosophy of classical yoga. The eight limbs are, yamas, niyamas, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyani, and samadhi. The first four limbs symbolize external cleansing practices while the last four represent internal cleansing. Flaws in the external can be corrected but shortcomings within the internal practices cannot be corrected. They are hazardous to the mind unless you follow the accurate ashtanga yoga method.
Ashtanga yoga is majorly athletic. It builds core strength resulting in a toned body with enhanced circulation and a peaceful mind. The practice involves a specific set of asanas, directing energy using bandhas throughout the body and focusing on particular points in asanas using drishti (gaze). It harmonizes movement and breathing generating internal heat to cleanse your body.
5. Prenatal Yoga
This yoga is specifically targeted towards pregnant women. Prenatal yoga, is meant to increase flexibility and strength to enable you to go through a smooth pregnancy and comfortable labor. It emphasizes on pelvic floor work, core strength, stamina, breathing and restoration. Some benefits of prenatal yoga include, improved sleep, decreased nausea, headaches and lower back pain. It reduces stress and risk of preterm labor, and lowers risk of intrauterine growth restriction. Safety precautions include not lying flat on your back, practicing for a minimum of 30 minutes and avoiding hot yoga as it can result in hyperthermia. If you are at risk of premature labor, prenatal yoga is not advised.
6. Vinyasa Yoga
It’s a Sanskrit word meaning to arrange something in a special manner. It’s also called flow yoga because coordination of movement and breath is done as you flow from one pose to the next. Breathing and movement rate need to be completely synchronized. Vinyasa classes are fast-paced and will test your endurance. During a session, a precise order of poses is commonly used. You will begin with chaturanga, proceed to upward-facing dog and end with downward-facing dog.
Vinyasa yoga is considered as meditation in motion and requires you to focus on the present. The pace varies depending on your teacher but many classes integrate meditation before or after. Whatever the pace, it aims at improving circulation and relieving congestion in your organs. This type of yoga is flexible and offers you diversity because different yoga styles and music can be applied. Sub-types of vinyasa yoga include prana flow, power yoga, Jivamukti, and Baptiste yoga.
Whether you prefer strong cardio yoga, yoga in a heated room or are looking for prenatal yoga, there is a yoga style to suit you. You dictate your choice and will depend on your preferences and objectives.
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