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I have been looking forward to this post for a while…
What Is Yoga?
Yoga can seem complicated, but it isn’t as complex as it may appear. The practice came to the west back in 1893 when one of India’s celebrated gurus, Swami Vivekananda, was welcomed at the World Fair in Chicago. He’s now known for having sparked the West’s interest in yoga.
Literally, the word yoga comes from the Sanskrit term Yug, which means: “to yoke, bind, join, or direct one’s attention”. At the same time, it can also imply concepts such as fusion, union, and discipline.
In essence, yoga is most commonly understood as conscious living and of tapping into one’s inner potential for happiness (what Sankrit refers to as ananda).
Yoga and Physical Health
Yoga is indeed a process that involves releasing blocked tension and energy in the body, and helping make the muscles, tendons, joints, ligaments, and all other components work to their utmost potential.
There are proven physical benefits of yoga, which include:
- increased flexibility and range of motion
- reduced pain in joints and muscles
- a stronger immune system
- stronger lung capacity
- increased metabolism (which can lead to weight loss!)
- higher quality of sleep (especially due to improved breathing and a more oxygenated body)
Given that certain yoga practices require postures to be mastered, yoga has always helped promote flexibility; it also helps in lubricating the joints, ligaments, and tendons. It also detoxifies by increasing the flow of blood to various parts of the body. It also helps tone and invigorate muscles.
The Mind-Body Connection
Yoga is centered on the mind-body connection. This mind-body harmony is achieved through three things:
- postures (asanas)
- proper breathing (pranayama)
The mind and body draw inspiration and guidance from the combined practices of asanas, breathing, and meditation.
Yoga has also been hailed for its special ability to help people eliminate feelings of hostility and inner resentment. As a result of eliminating these toxic emotions, the doorway to self-acceptance and self-actualization opens.
Pain Management Benefits
Pain management is another benefit . Since pain and chronic pain are conditions that affect many of us at some point, understanding the positive link between yoga and pain management could be invaluable.
Now that we have looked at the basics of yoga, we’ll look at some of the different types . There are 11 basic types of yoga, but we are going to focus on 5 in this post.
Hatha yoga appeals to many people for a variety of reasons. If you’ve never heard of Hatha yoga, here are a few quick facts to get you started.
What is Hatha Yoga
Hatha yoga is a slow form of the tradition. In fact, it’s considered the ideal yoga practice for someone that’s new to the discipline. It has slow movements. It also allows you to learn different breathing techniques and to grasp them before moving into more complex and intense yoga styles. The technique is also an ancient technique that works on breath and movement flow.
Most of the Hatha yoga movements you see are ones used in other yoga traditions. The difference with Hatha is that the movements connect. They flow from one to the other instead of having a small break in between. This is ideal if you are looking for a set routine that you can memorize and use while you are at home or on the go. In some other traditions, you can learn the movements and poses, but they may not join a they do in Hatha.
Specific Style of Hatha Yoga
If you go to a Hatha yoga class, you should understand that it’s a low energy and quiet environment in most cases. This is good for someone who wants a stress-free environment where they can concentrate on the movements. You’ll also have an instructor that likely moves around the room and helps you with your poses. It’s peaceful environment.
A Review of a Few Other Types
While Hatha yoga is an excellent option for beginners, you may also want to explore some other types after a little practice. Here are 4 more types to explore.
When you begin looking into the different styles of yoga, one that you will frequently encounter is Vinyasa. This style of yoga is common in the United States. If you decide to try out a class, there are a few things you should know about the basics of Vinyasa yoga and what it could do for you.
What is Vinyasa Yoga
First, Vinyasa yoga is a break off of the popular type, Ashtanga. Vinyasa takes some of the basics of Ashtanga and uses them to create a modern and flowing discipline. You probably see this form in many gyms or yoga studios. Some of the yoga that may fall under the label of Vinyasa yoga are power yoga, flow yoga, and prana flow. The basic concept is to move easily between each step of yoga without having to pause and break your foundation to move into the next pose or asana.
Benefits of Vinyasa Yoga
The biggest benefit of Vinyasa yoga is how it helps with flexibility. The flow of the movements doesn’t give you time or a break in between poses to really let your muscles return to their original positions. This means if you’re trying to build your flexibility and keep those muscles moving, this may be a good choice for you. Other benefits of Vinyasa yoga are increased circulation and reduced inflammation and joint pain.
Specific Style of Vinyasa Yoga
One of the specific style differences of Vinyasa yoga is the related to the flowing movement. There is no break and the poses are not held for long at all. This means that you are constantly moving with the ebb and flow of your body. You might wonder what the difference between Hatha and Vinyasa is – both have a flow. However, vinyasa is faster-paced and may actually cause you to break into a sweat.
If you live in an area that has a large American Sikh presence or a 3HO group (a sect of Sikhism), then you have likely heard of Kundalini yoga. This form of yoga has a rich history and is very appealing to people looking for yoga as a form of meditation and weight loss. It does combine all three of the mind, body, and spirit aspects of yoga and can be very uplifting. If you’re new to this form of yoga, here’re some quick facts.
What is Kundalini Yoga
Kundalini yoga was introduced to the United States yoga community through Yogi Bhajan in the 1970s. He brought the practice from India with him to the US. This form uses intense breathing and core exercises during the yoga practice. This provides a cardio yoga workout element that most other yoga forms don’t have. Kundalini is generally practiced as part of a morning ritual but can be done at anytime during the day. Most Kundalini practitioners do mix the practice with their spiritual beliefs.
What are the Benefits of Kundalini Yoga
Kundalini is an all-inclusive yoga. The benefits aren’t limited to flexibility or breathing. In fact, the benefits are full body. You can experience meditation aspects, stress release, flexibility, weight loss, cardio workouts, and core workouts. If you’re looking for an all-inclusive yoga practice, this may be the best option.
What Makes Kundalini Yoga Different
This form of yoga is fast paced and has intense breathing throughout the yoga. Most of the breathing is also done lower towards the core unlike other yoga breathing techniques. Kundalini yoga starts and ends on a meditative tone as well which is different from some other practices.
Bikram yoga has become popular; it’s also known as hot yoga. Here are some quick facts about this yoga practice.
What is BIkram Yoga
Bikram yoga is a break off of Hatha yoga and uses most of its techniques. This form of yoga lasts for a specific amount of time– around 90 minutes. There are 26 postures that you work through during this 90-minute timeframe. The hot yoga term refers to the heat of the room, which is 104 degrees.
What are the Benefits of Bikram Yoga
Pulse rate increase, metabolism increase, increased weight loss, and increased cardio workouts are all considered to be benefits of Bikram yoga. Some people say that this form has helped them lose weight fast and has helped with improved energy, blood flow, and circulation.
What is Different about Bikram Yoga
The room temperature is the key element that is different in Bikram yoga. The belief is that the heat in the room helps to open the mind and body and that it will help produce higher levels of cardio and weight loss results.
Though there have been several studies on this, there have been no conclusive ones that show the high temperature actually does help. You’ll also notice that the accessories for Bikram are different. For example, the towels for hot yoga are made to stay cool while they are damp. This helps with the heat of the room.
Ashtanga is another form that may come up in your research of yoga styles.
What is Ashtanga Yoga
Ashtanga yoga is based on an ancient Indian form that was used for spiritual and body awareness. This form of yoga has been modernized and used throughout the world. The basic concept is to sync your breathing along with your body movements, so you have one clear flowing mind and body movement. The name of Ashtanga refers to the eight areas of the body that are brought together through the different asanas and breathing techniques.
What are the Benefits of Ashtanga Yoga
The biggest benefits of this form are improvements in posture and breathing. Ideally, it’s for someone that wants a full meditation with their yoga along with relaxing breathing techniques that can be used at anytime. It also benefits the body by helping with back pain through posture exercises. There are also emotional benefits to the practice.
How is Ashtanga Different
Ashtanga is a dynamic yoga and moves to focus on your mind, body, and spirit as one unit. Building all three is a key point here where as other forms of yoga may be focused on just the health of the body or only on spiritual aspects and body. These aspects make it ideal for someone who wants a spiritual base with their mind and body health.
Remember, you should consult your physician or other health care professional before starting this or any other fitness routine.
I took power yoga for few years during the 90s. I also took yoga during my first pregnancy and afterwards. I loved it…
Then we moved to Texas and I got out of the habit.
Now that I feel better, I want to start again. I don’t think I can start with power yoga again yet though. I think I’ll look for a Hatha class first…
Maybe, I can get my daughter involved too.
Tomorrow, we will look at Pilates vs. Yoga and the combination of the two.
Have a wonderful evening!!
Loving Life—The Reboot!