Different Forms of Yoga and their Benefits
The word Yoga means ‘Confluence’ or ‘Union’ of our mind and spirit with the inevitable supreme power. The Yoga as mentioned in the Bhagawad Gita is certainly different from Patanjali’s Yoga- though both align with each other in terms of the concept of ‘Union’. Well here, we go on to speak about the forms and benefits of Patanjali’s Yoga which is a mind and body practice with a 5,000-year history in ancient Indian philosophy. The various styles of yoga combine physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation or relaxation.
While most of the forms of Yoga essentially include some Asanas, the experience of all is remarkably different. Even a 15-minute yoga practice in a routine is good enough to demonstrate positive results.
Let’s have a look at the various forms of Yoga-
The Sanskrit word ‘हठ’ means force and likewise refers to a system of ‘physical force’. When we say Yoga in a generic sense today, it is this system and form of Hatha Yoga that we are referring to (in form of physical exercise). According to the Dattatreya Yoga Shastra, Hatha Yoga again takes two forms- Yajñavalkya and Kapila.
While Yoga holds its ancient roots in Hinduism and Buddhism, in the modern setting the religious beliefs have been shelved and it exists as a form of work-out.
Hatha Yoga includes the practice of Asanas (postures) and Pranayama (breathing). It not only brings about the healing to the mind and the body but also prepares us for the deeper spiritual practices such as meditation.
What to expect in a Hatha Yoga Class?
The Hatha Yoga class includes Asanas and Pranayama. Usually, the instructor would also insist upon practicing Pranayama. If you are just starting out, some basic asanas would be first introduced. The level of difficulty would increase as you master the basic postures and get more flexible. The practice involves having to hold a pose for a few breaths. It helps you to learn some essential relaxation techniques.
Heard of the activation of the seven Chakras? Kundalini Yoga is the route that takes you there. It is a magical form of Yoga and brings about the unbelievable transformations in life if practiced correctly. Yes, this form of Yoga is more than a mere workout!
Kundalini means coiled, like a snake. The whole point of this style is to release the kundalini energy that is coiled in the lower spine. This form is physically demanding and mentally challenging and involves a lot of meditation, chanting, mudras, and breathing exercises. This style is for those who are looking for more than a workout.
What to expect in a Kundalini Yoga class?
A class in Kundalini Yoga will equip you to reach your higher self. It is the Yoga that brings about profound awareness and transformation. You will be focussing on enhanced and repetitive breathing while chanting mantras with an endeavor to unblock and enhance the life energy residing within.
The Ashtanga form of Yoga is a set of six series of asanas to be performed exactly in the same sequence at a rapid pace while breathing right. Ashtanga or the “eight limb path” is physically type which might call for some form of existing fitness level. The eight of them being-
- Yama or Self-restraint (ethical behavior)
- Niyama or right observance (self-discipline)
- Asana or right alignment (asana practice in order to develop concentration)
- Pranayama or regulation of breath (the ability to extend our energy of prana or life-force)
- Pratyahara or withdrawal of the senses (learning to objectively observe our senses and attachments)
- Dharana or concentration
- Dhyana or meditation
- Samadhi or free attention
This type of yoga uses ancient yoga teachings. Ashtanga applies six established sequences of postures that rapidly link every movement to the breath. Ashtanga is a great form of Yoga if your aim is to tone your body.
Popularly known as Power Yoga, Vinyasa is an offshoot of Ashtanga and also involves a number of athletic yoga postures and each movement is coordinated with one’s breath. Just like Ashtanga, Vinyasa is also a very physically demanding practice. It also works your core and upper body and gives you a cardio-like workout. Like Ashtanga, Vinyasa also helps in body toning.
The difference between the two is in the rigidity in terms of postures. While Ashtanga follows a strict set, Vinyasa is flexible. The instructor can modify the asanas as per their choice.
Want to practice precision? Welcome to the Iyengar Yoga school. Founded by BKS Iyengar- one of the most influential Yoga gurus of our times, this form of Yoga pays close heed to the anatomical details along with the alignment of each asana. It focuses on the correct alignment of the body and very precise moves. These postures are held while holding your breath and the duration of each pose increases with expertise. The perfect pose is achieved with the help of props like straps, blocks, and blankets. This practice greatly improves stability, mobility, strength, and flexibility.
What to expect in an Iyengar Yoga class?
You would be introduced to a myriad of postures which you would be required to hold for longer than usual while breathing normally. In return, expect heaps of solace and healing.
This form of Yoga occurs in artificially heated rooms at temperatures of nearly 105º degrees and 40 percent humidity. It consists of 26 poses and a sequence of two breathing exercises. You sweat with the heat generated in your body helping it get rid of the toxins. The postures work each part of your body and bring oxygenated blood to all your internal organs.
The Yin form of Yoga is about slowing down, listening to your body, and getting at peace. This is a quiet, meditative yoga practice. Yin yoga allows the release of tension in key joints. Besides, you also improve blood circulation and the qi energy in your body.
You actually need nothing to be able to practice Yin Yoga- yes, not even a mat! Usually, a pillow or bolster would suffice. Nevertheless, props help you relax into the postures instead of keeping your muscles flexed and taut. This style is often practiced in a heated room to help your muscles become more elastic.
Being in a meditative state is an integral part of Yoga- both invariably complement each other and are routes to the same destination. The destination can be different for different people- right from fitness, Manifesting your Dreams, Peace of Mind, Activation of Chakras, to Kundalini Awakening, or anything else.
Nevertheless, if you find this too intimidating to begin with, Mindfulness Meditation can be one of the good starting points. The benefits of Yoga and Meditation are totally unparalleled.
Having said that, no matter what form of Yoga appeals to you, do practice it. Irrespective of the form, it is sure to guarantee you peace of mind and holistic healing. The bliss yoga provides is totally unmatched.
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Healing vibes to you,