Different Yoga Types And Styles

There are countless different types of yoga and you really ought to select the one that you think will give you the most benefits for what you are trying to accomplish.

There is the main thread to all types of Yoga. All the numerous styles of yoga will all the time aim to create a serene feeling as well as achieving an overall balance in the psyche and body. In the majority of cases, Yoga will also help you to increase flexibility and improve fitness levels at the same time.

What a lot of people rate as the most extreme sort of yoga is Bikram yoga where the routines are performed in heated rooms. For some people, this can add tension to their exercises and for that reason, there are many who believe that performing under those conditions is detrimental to your health. For the people who use the Bikram yoga on a regular basis, they believe that the increased temperatures helps to relax and cleanse their body and in doing so give them more benefits over the standard forms of yoga.

The most common type of yoga that you will find used in the majority of centers throughout your country is Hatha Yoga. This is probably the best kind of yoga for you to pick if you haven’t done any variety of this exercise in the past. It will teach you all the obligatory types of poses that will also be applicable to various other forms of yoga if you intend to move into these other types at a later date. It is excellent for people who haven’t done any exercise previously and for elderly people as all the movements are slow and relaxing and will aid in helping you to gather more flexibility without concern for injury.

One step up from Hatha Yoga is Vinyasa yoga which is performed at a faster speed and focuses a lot on breathing throughout the movements. The stretches that are used in Vinyasa yoga are more sophisticated than those in Hatha yoga and are possibly not nearly as appropriate for a novice.

Ashtanga Yoga which is from time to time also known as Power Yoga and is regarded as the favored option of athletes. Ashtanga yoga is not focused entirely on meditation but is centered more on developing strength and stamina. In order to gain strength and flexibility, the poses are often regarded as more difficult and the speed to change poses is increased. This style is suitable for anyone in fair physical shape but should be avoided by those who are new to exercise. Even the “beginners” routines are a physically demanding workout. You normally begin Ashtanga yoga with a warming up of the body.

Kundalini Yoga, combines mantras (chanting), meditations, visualizations, and controlled relaxation. It focuses on healing and “cleansing” the mind, body, and emotions. Kundalini yoga is designed to trigger the Kundalini energy in the spine. This is achieved with poses, breath control, chanting, and meditation. Kundalini yoga is advantageous in dealing with addictions, and a lot of people find it to be a natural way of releasing endorphins just by breathing and doing the poses.

There are many different variations of yoga apart from these that I just mentioned, however, they all feature the same teachings of getting the mind and body to operate as one to bring about a harmony in your life.

Yin or Yang? Find the Balance In Your Yoga Practice

It is understandable that even if you have heard the terms Yin and Yang Yoga, you may not know that Yin and Yang yoga refer to two different styles of yoga that target different parts of the body. Most westerners think of all yoga as “Hatha” Yoga, when in fact, Hatha Yoga, a physical practice encompassing “asana” is only one branch of the “eight limbs of yoga” and Yin and Yang are two different styles of a physical practice.

The terms Yin and Yang can be traced back thousands of years and are referenced in ancient Chinese writings. Although many think of Yin and Yang as simple terms to describe opposites (like good vs. bad or strong vs. weak) this is in fact, inaccurate. Ancient Taoists (or Daoists) believed that all forces within nature exist along a continuum and that the concepts of Yin and Yang only make sense when viewed relative to each other. Seemingly opposing forces are actually interconnected energies dependent on each other for survival. According to Taoist Philosophy, everything in the universe has Yin and Yang properties and nothing exists in a fixed state. Within this cosmic sphere of fluidity exists a natural tendency for opposing forces to seek equilibrium in order to achieve balance and bring harmony to all things. These same principles apply to all living organisms. Physiologically, the body’s ability to seek and maintain equilibrium is known as homeostasis and is critical to our survival. From a more holistic perspective, yoga helps maintain the physiological, psychological, emotional, energetic and spiritual systems within the human body thus supporting balance and harmony throughout the whole body. Yin and Yang yoga practices target different tissues within the body but both practices support bringing the body into harmonious balance.

Yin and Yang yoga generally refer to two different styles of yoga, although it is important to recognize that within each style of practice, there are yin and yang properties.

Yang yoga is the style we are more familiar with in the West. It targets muscle tissue which has more elasticity compared to the connective tissues surrounding bones and joints. Therefore, muscles respond well to the heat, flow and repetitive movements of a Yang practice which relax, stretch and strengthen the muscles. A traditional Yang practice includes the well known repetitive flow of Sun Salutations and Warrior asanas.

Yin Yoga, targets the connective tissues of the bones and joints, which are much less elastic than muscle tissue and respond better to deeper poses held for longer periods of time. The objective is to stretch and stress the connective tissues around a joint while relaxing the surrounding muscles. Connective tissues include ligaments, tendons, and fascia. Poses such as wide legged forward bend, reclining hero and pigeon are examples of poses well suited for a Yin practice. These poses help to bring greater flexibility and movement to many of the stiff places in the body that are traditionally sore and tired such as the spine, hips and pelvis.

My entire yoga practice shifted dramatically after taking a weekend Yin Seminar with Paul Grilley. I still enjoy practicing and teaching Yang yoga, but have added Yin poses to my personal daily practice and my teaching style. After a few months of a consistent Yin practice, I noticed a gradual decrease in the ache in my lower back and knees. I used to fear back bends. They hurt and I thought they were harming me. After a weekend with Paul, I began to embrace back bends and had a clear understanding of how, when done slowly and properly, they could improve my range of motion and decrease my pain. As long as I maintain a routine practice I find I am more flexible and less sore. Paul uses the analogy of brushing your teeth. It’s not a one time event. As with all yoga, a practice must be consistent. Just as our tissues can stretch and relax with use and practice, without maintenance, they can just as easily tighten up and tug on all those tender spots. Remember, everyone’s body is different and it is important you check with your health provider to ensure what practices are safe for you. It is always a good idea to seek guidance from an experienced yoga instructor when beginning or experimenting with your practice.

As a point of caution, Yin Yoga is not Restorative Yoga. Restorative Yoga is another wonderful practice intended to help restore, relax and renew the body with the artful use of props for support. Judith Lasater, Yoga instructor and physical therapist, specializes in this practice and has a wonderful book called “Relax and Renew.”

If you have not already discovered the benefits and rewards of practicing Yin poses, I encourage you to incorporate some beginning Yin asanas into your practice. Be patient and consistent. Remember all yoga has yin and yang properties. The trick is finding the harmonic balance between effort and yield. Yin and Yang are not opposites. They are balancing forces on an energetic pole. As with all yoga, stay present, move from within, stay mindful and be aware of what your are experiencing. Always adjust the pose and the breath to meet the needs of your body. It is your body, your health, your practice. Make it work for you.

Yoga Nidra For Stress Reduction & Deep Relaxation

Pause for a moment and ask yourself: does stress really affect my health? If your answer is “No,” think again. Medical researchers estimate that up to 90% of illness and disease is stress-related. Something as slight as a cold to the more crippling ailments of heart disease and cancer can be stress’s accomplices. Some claim that no matter what you do-whether you work too much or not at all-you still accumulate tension at the physical, mental, and emotional levels. While certainly yoga can help, stress and tension run deep and may require more attention.

Here’s where you can call on Yoga Nidra. Over thirty years ago, Swami Satyananda Saraswati, founder of the renowned Bihar School of Yoga in eastern India, adapted ancient tantric meditation techniques into a practice he calls Yoga Nidra, which he translates as “Psychic Sleep.” This practice induces complete relaxation while maintaining consciousness. The Swami calls the prolonged suspension between Yoga Nidra ‘s wakefulness and sleep the “hypnogogic state,” attesting that this place holds untold and far-reaching benefits. Here, our deepest levels of creativity and healing energies can awaken.

In this state one can ultimately change thought patterns– and even the personality-for the better. Yogis through the ages have known this, using the technique to purify samskaras, or the deep impressions and conditioned behaviors that are the driving forces behind our habitual negative reactions. Even if deep transformation is not your aim, you will be happy to know that you will emerge from Yoga Nidra feeling rested and ready to engage in the world (A 20-30 minute session of Yoga Nidra is said to be the equivalent of approximately 3 hours of deep sleep!).

This is good news, which Daniel N. Guerra, Psy.D, Director of Psychological Stress Management Services in New York City endorses. “In this fast-paced world that we live in, we have lost a much-needed connection with our minds and bodies,” he explains, ” Yoga Nidra helps to reestablish this connection and is beneficial on many levels. It brings muscular relaxation, better understanding, and control over our emotions and improved psychological health.”

One practices Yoga Nidra while lying in savasana (corpse pose) and following the spoken instructions of a teacher or recording. In the first phase of the session, you progressively relax your muscles by quickly rotating awareness through different parts of the body. The Swami drew this from the ancient tantric practice of nyasa (meaning “to place” or “to take the mind to that point”). This is followed by other tantric meditations: awakening the sensations of polar-opposites; awareness of the whole body, the brain, and internal organs; and feeling contact between the earth and the body. Next, you could be asked to focus on and count the breath in a particular way. The last phase is a rapid visualization of images from nature and abstract symbols.

An avid scientist, the Swami unravels the reasoning behind each of the stages. From the perspective of neurophysiology, he explains that each part of the body has a corresponding control center in the brain called the motor homunculus. The movement of awareness through different parts of the body, especially when done routinely over time, not only relaxes them but also clears nerve pathways to their parallel regions in this part of the brain. One result is less-fragmented awareness.

Next, the meditation on polar opposites stimulates the centers of the brain responsible for maintaining harmony between inner and outer environments. This helps to balance our basic drives. Finally, when asked to visualize these symbols rapidly, the conscious mind has no time to react. You remain detached and the ego becomes temporarily inactive. This phase helps to resolve suppressed conflicts, desires, memories and samskaras.

At the start and finish of each session, you will be asked to repeat a sankalpa, or resolve. It should be a short statement, phrased in positive language and in the present tense. Choose something that you would like to develop in your life that will have a positive effect. For example, your resolution could be: “I am at ease in all that I do.” This resolve gets embedded into the depths of your unconscious, where it will later bear fruit by motivating changes in behavior and lifestyle.

The next time you are feeling run-down, roll out your mat and fast forward– straight to savasana. Enjoy diving into the still and deep mystery of Yoga Nidra.

How Do I Find the Right Yoga Mat?

When you practice yoga, some of the first things that come to mind are the physical and spiritual aspects. The union of the mind, body, and spirit through guided meditation, gentle stretching and breathing exercises are the foundation of a tradition that spans over a thousand years. What we rarely ever think about is the literal foundation that supports us as we practice our yoga – the good old yoga mat.

Perhaps you may be wondering, “What’s so special about a mat anyway? They’re all the same!” This is false because not all yoga mats are created equal. There are different mats on the market that come in different sizes, features, and thickness. As with the clothes you wear, investing in a reliable yoga mat is integral to getting the most out of your yoga practice. When you have the right one, you’ll be able to perform a range of different poses, meditation poses and relaxation poses at your most comfortable and happy state.

Here are some of the f you need to consider when you look for a yoga mat.

  • Use. As previously stated, not all mats are created equal. There are different mats for different yoga disciplines. While most mats can be used for every kind of yoga, there are some mats that are particular to certain yoga styles, such as Bikram. Select a mat that will be appropriate for your practice.
  • Durability. If you practice yoga more than twice a week, you should purchase a yoga mat that is thicker than the average mat, with better traction. Consider investing in a high-quality mat, especially if your yoga practice is very intense and physical. If your practices are more on the gentle side, a regular yoga mat will do.
  • Sweat absorbency. You will want to purchase a mat that absorbs sweat, to prevent the risk of accidental slippage from your sweat. Cotton yoga mats are recommended, as this is the most suitable material to absorb moisture from your workout.
  • Thickness and size. Your mat should be thick enough to support your spine, knees, and elbows and prevent possible injury. A standard mat for yoga is 1/8th of an inch thick, although you can easily find ones that come in varying thicknesses. Thinner yoga mats are easier to bring around because of their light weight and are more suitable for travel purposes. Make sure that your mat is large enough to accommodate you in various yoga positions. Yoga mats come in varying lengths and widths, so choose a mat that is appropriate for your frame.
  • Easy to clean. It is important that you find a mat that is machine washable, so you avoid the occurrence of unpleasant odors during your yoga practice. The durability of your mat is important, as some of the cheaper mats on the market are not meant to be washed frequently.

Yoga mats are easily available at most sporting goods stores in your area, but the quality ones are hard to find. The important thing you need to know when selecting a yoga mat is its durability, appropriate for your practice, absorbs sweat and is machine washable. Also, you want to make sure it can accommodate you comfortably in your various yoga poses and positions.

Denise is a deeply spiritual and health-loving person. Her favorite yoga teacher is Katrina Ariel, who teaches a Kamloops yoga class.