Yoga is an amazing holistic practice and philosophy that can bring a wealth of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual benefits to your life experience. Yoga originated within Asia, most notably from the ancient Vedic traditions of India. It has since developed over time into a wide variety of styles. Some of these styles are true to the roots of yoga’s origin and some are modern evolutions, some styles are more holistically focused and some more compartmentalized or specific in focus. Within this article we will explore how you can go about finding a yoga style that suits you best; to do this it is necessary to understand what the various styles entail and focus on.
The types of yoga
The practice of yoga has been traced back over 10 000 years. Over the course of time and evolution, many nuanced variations of yoga have developed and thrived. The styles of yoga discussed below are just some of the styles that are currently prominent and accessible.
Kundalini yoga is a style of yoga that is focused on energizing the chakras in order to awaken the kundalini energy (potent spiritual energy that resides within the base of the spine). The kundalini energy is associated with feminine energy and the imagery and motion of a serpent. Kundalini yoga practice holistically includes physical postures (asanas), meditations, mantras and powerful breathing techniques such as breath of fire (agni pran). All practices within kundalini yoga are directed towards achieving balance, energizing the chakras in order to awaken, experience and embody kundalini energy.
Vinyasa yoga is often regarded as a modern form of classic yoga. It focuses more on the physical aspects of yoga and is practiced in the form of a flowing series of asana along with synchronized breathing. It is an energetic style of yoga, each posture within a vinyasa yoga series is designed to elegantly and powerfully transition into the next posture with intentional mindfulness and rhythmic breathing. Vinyasa yoga is often practiced at a faster pace than most other yoga styles. It is a physically challenging and physically rewarding form of yoga. Vinyasa yoga is closely linked to what is known as Ashtanga yoga (the difference between the two is that Ashtanga yoga is a set series of asana that are repeated while Vinyasa allows for creative variation of the asana).
Yin yoga is based on Chinese philosophy that acknowledges the Chi (life force energy that flows within our bodies). It is a slower form of yoga that focuses on stretching, lengthening and restoration of the bodies’ joints, connective tissue, ligaments and bones. Asanas within a yin yoga practice are generally held for a longer period than other forms of yoga. Yin yoga practice also incorporates focus on deep breathing. This form of yoga is intended to create a state of inner relaxation both mentally and physically.
The Sanskrit word ‘Hatha ‘translates to ‘force’ or ‘will’ which refers to the action or the physical aspect of yoga practice. The physical aspect of yoga practice is made up of asana which cultivate strength, balance and alignment within the physical body. The mental and energetic bodies are also benefited through the concentration and dedication to physical practice. Breathwork is also an essential part of a Hatha yoga practice. This style of yoga is usually practiced at a moderate to slow place and has a focus on technical refinement of the classical yoga asana. Hatha yoga is sometimes used as a generalized term to classify other forms of physically focused yoga styles.
Hot yoga is a modern style of yoga that is practiced in an intentionally heated environment. The heat allows for the muscles of the body to warm up faster allowing for deep stretches as well as extra sweating which can have a detoxification effect. Hot yoga was popularized by teacher Bikram Choudry. It is suggested that you conduct further independent research about this style of yoga, approaching it with discretion as both the safety of the technique and founder of this style have recently been surrounded by much controversy.
Hasya yoga is a light, fun and intriguing modern form of yoga. It is also known as laughter yoga. Laughter yoga is practiced in a group where participants voluntarily activate laughing. This is activated through shared energy within the group of playfulness, eye contact and infectious laughter. We have all at some point experienced how simply good a genuine laugh can feel and laughing has actually been studied to have positive health effects such as the reduction of stress hormones and even boosting the immune system.
Jivamukti yoga is a style of yoga that focuses on yoga as a completely embodied lifestyle. The practices within Jivamukti yoga are spiritual, physical and philosophical. Jivamukti yoga upholds a core of five essential teachings; Shasta (Hindu scripture), bhakti (devotion), ahimsā (non-harming), nāda (vibration) and dhyana (meditation). The intention within Jivamukti practice is that yoga can be a means to enlightenment and self-realization.
Yoga Nidra is a form of yoga that focuses on the inner world and experiencing deep states of mindfulness. Yoga Nidra incorporates body, breath and awareness techniques which are used to enter a state deep meditation. Intentional guided meditation is used to enter a restful state of awareness. Yoga Nidra is also known as yogic sleep, a subtle state of being that is deeply relaxing and restorative.
What to consider when choosing a yoga style
You may enjoy different yoga styles depending on your personality and needs, you could also simultaneously explore yoga styles depending on your mood. Ultimately any style of yoga that is holistic will offer you the most benefit but don’t let that stop you from trying a variety, gaining even some of the benefits are better than none! Now that you have received some insight on the variety of yoga styles it is likely you are already intuitively drawn to certain styles. There is also no harm in trying out a variety of types; you will gain invaluable firsthand experience on how effectively each of these styles personally resonates.
Embrace your unique path of learning and experimentation as it unfolds and fully enjoy the many insights and benefits that you receive from your experience of yoga.
__ Written by Music Of Wisdom team