The science of Yoga was developed more than 5000 years ago and has been passed down in Guru-Disciple succession. The Yoga technique or spiritual practice was developed to help achieve unity of mind, body and soul or moksha or liberation. Today, Yoga is mostly popular as a set of physical exercises that enables one maintain a healthy body and mind. However, the ancient practice is more than just physical exercise. It prepares the body and mind for the higher practice of meditation and provides us with various techniques and practices to achieve focus, balance and flexibility to experience the higher state of being.
There are 6 original branches of yoga out of which modern yoga practices have evolved from. These original branches are Raja Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Karma Yoga, Mantra Yoga and Hatha Yoga.
Traditionally, Hatha Yoga is a holistic path which includes discipline, cleansing techniques called shat kriyas, asanas, pranayam, mudras (gestures,) and meditation. In today’s world, the practice of Hatha Yoga is primarily focused on the practice of asanas that improve body’s flexibility and sense of balance and prepare you for pranayam and meditation.
Ashtanga Yoga, Bikram Yoga, Prenatal, Kundalini practices to name a few, are all children of the Hatha Yoga style that have debuted in popular culture.
Below is a brief explanation of a few popular yoga forms compiled for you to choose the style that best suits your requirements:
1. Anusara Yoga
Anusara is a style of Hatha yoga founded by yoga guru, John Friend. He created Anusara Yoga in 2013, after many years of teaching Iyengar Yoga. Anusara means “flowing with grace” and it emphasizes the universal principle of alignment of body, heart and mind. It combines asanas with spiritual intention and makes the practice joyous, peaceful and balanced.
2. Iyengar Yoga
Designed by BKS Iyengar, this is a style of Hatha yoga that emphasises on detail alignment of posture and breath control. It aims at achieving precision and perfection in yoga asanas with the help of props. It is challenging and follows a specific sequence and the philosophy is firmly based on the traditional eight limbs of Yoga. It is known to have helped people overcome injuries and chronic conditions.
3. Bikram Yoga
This is a sweat-intensive practice of the Hatha yoga style that is performed in a heated room, also popularly known as Hot Yoga. Like Ashtanga Yoga, it follows a predetermined sequence of asanas in a 90-minute class time. The practice consists of repeating a unique set of 26 poses. Teachers endure an intensive practice that is certified by the founder, Bikram Choudhury himself.
4. Ashtanga Yoga
Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga or Ashtanga Yoga, is dynamic yoga flow – a style of Yoga codified and popularized by Shri K Pattabhi Jois during the 20th century. It is also known as Mysore-style. The asanas are given by the teacher one-by-one in sequential order and incorporates vinyasa or synchronising breath with movement, posture and drishti/ gazing. The breathing technique performed is Ujjayi breath. The practice is heat and sweat intensive.
5. Restorative Yoga
This is a more relaxed practice that is slow-paced and helps achieve deep level of relaxation and healing. A typical session is 20 60-90 minutes long with 4 – 5 five to six poses that are held for 5 minutes or more. It includes light twists, gentle backbends and seated forward folds supported by props like blankets, bolsters, etc., that allow you to completely relax. This practices focuses on psychic cleansing, fosters mindfulness, self-love and acceptance.
The term viniyoga had been used by T. K. V. Desikachar (son of Krishnamacharya) to describe his approach to utilizing the tools of yoga as an adaptive practice where users can modify poses to suit their need and abilities. It refers to the therapeutic style of Hatha Yoga that implies differentiation, adaptation and appropriate application. Viniyoga uses the principles of proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation(PNF), which means warming up and contracting muscles before stretching
Vinyasa means to flow from one pose to another with breath awareness. There is no pre-defined sequence and the teacher can plan her class based on her class theme. As this is an adaptive style, techniques may vary from teacher to teacher. Ashtanga Yoga, Baptiste Yoga, Jivamukti Yoga, Power Yoga, etc., can all be considered as Vinyasa Yoga. It helps build a strong core, stamina and flexibility.
8. Sivananda Yoga
Based on Hatha Yoga and teachings of Swami Sivananda, Sivananda Yoga focuses on preserving health and wellness through the practice of asana, pranayama, savasana, healthy diet and lifestyle, and positive thinking and meditation. The session typically begins with savasana, pranayama, followed by surya namaskar and standard practice of 12 basic asanas.
9. Prenatal Yoga
Prenatal yoga is a unique practice designed for expectant mothers for different stages of pregnancy, as well as for postpartum post-partum fitness. It prepares moms-to-be for childbirth and supports them emotionally and physically. It includes breathing techniques, restorative poses, stretches to strengthen lower back and pelvic floor exercises. Yoga props such as blankets, blocks, bolsters help enhance the practice.
The Kundalini, or serpent energy is thought to be at resting stage at the base of the spine and the practice of Kundalini Yoga, aims at awakening this energy. The practice includes practice of asana, pranayama, bandha, mantra chanting and meditation. The practice is designed to raise complete awareness of body and mind and prepare the body and mind to handle the flow of Kundalini energy as it travels to the highest chakra. The goal is to increase consciousness and build compassion and healing.
This is a meditative yoga practice that focuses on acceptance and learning from your body. Kripalu yoga was founded by Amrit Desai in the 1980’s, who named it after his teacher in India, Sri Kripalvananda. Kripalu focuses on awareness of your body in different forms, and changing those poses while being aware of how your body changes as you move into a new pose. This change is followed by a period of meditation to heighten awareness.
12. Tantric Yoga
Tantric yoga is meant for couples to deepen the bond between them and increase awareness of each other’s beings. Strengthening the spiritual and physical connection is what Tantric Yoga is all about. The practice includes a combination of asana, mantra, mudra, bandha and chakra work.
Many of these forms of Yoga can be performed on a yoga mat, while others require props and accessories. Juru Yoga makes durable cork yoga mats meant for active and sweaty poses such as those in Bikram Yoga and Ashtanga Yoga styles, in addition to props, slings, belts and blocks for the Iyengar and Restorative styles. Find out more at https://www.juruyoga.com