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An Introduction To The Popular Forms of Yoga

yoga traditions

Yoga, Health and Wellness: healthy living through your choice of yoga traditions-

 

Entering into the world of yoga can be a bit overwhelming.  A quick search of local classes will often return a seemingly unending selection of different styles.  An aspiring yogi can quickly become lost if they do not know what they are looking at!

Here is a quick overview of some of the most popular styles of yoga, and what they are all about.

Ashtanga

Officially founded in 1948 by K. Pattabhi Jois, Ashtanga Yoga is said to derive its teachings from ancient texts and practices.

This style consists of a set series of movements, or asanas, which get progressively more difficult as a student progresses over time.  Every class consists of the same movements either called out by the instructor or practiced “Mysore style” in which each student performs the series at his/her own pace with the teacher overseeing.

Due to its repetitive nature, this method is perfect for those who like structure and a measured way to observe their progress.

Vinyasa

An offshoot of Ashtanga, Vinyasa is showed up in the late 20th century as a kind of freestyle Ashtanga.

This form uses many of the same poses as Ashtanga but without the prescribed sequencing.  Each class is different, and classes vary greatly from teacher to teacher, with each injecting his/her own style and personality into the class.  Movements flow into one another, and can often feel much more like a cardio workout.

With its dynamic feeling, these classes are perfect for those looking for more of a HIIT workout, or those who do not like to feel constrained by the prescribed sequencing of Ashtanga.

Iyengar

Established in the 1970s by B. K. S. Iyengar, this style is extremely detail oriented with much emphasis placed on the exact positioning of the body.

Poses are held for longer than some other forms, and props such as blocks, bolsters, chairs, and ropes are often utilized to help a practitioner ease their bodies into the poses.

These classes are a good fit for detail-oriented people who want to perfect their alignment, as well as those with injuries, due to the extensive use of props.

Bikram

Founded in the 1970s by Bikram Choudhury, this is another prescribed sequencing form of yoga with a bit of a steamy twist.

These two-hour classes consisting of a specified series of 26 poses are held in a room heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit (40 Celsius) and around 40% humidity.  While this heat may sound offputting, practitioners say that the heat helps open the body allowing for deeper stretching and longer holds.

Kundalini

Although the origin of Kundalini Yoga is unknown, the form we often see was introduced to the west in 1968 by Yogi Bhajan.

Often referred to as the “yoga of awareness,” Kundalini is a mixture of physical practice, breathwork, chanting, and meditation.  The ultimate goal of these classes is to transcend the physical and enter into a more spiritual state of being.

This form is perfect for those looking for something beyond themselves or wishing to delve deeper into their own spiritual understanding.

Yin Yoga

Based on the Chinese Taoist tradition, Yin is a very different approach to yoga.

With long holds of 3-5 minutes in each pose, the goal of Yin is to move past the muscles and ease into the connective tissues of the body.  With a focus on fascia and qi (chi) energy, Yin is a wonderful practice both on its own or in addition to other forms.

These classes are great for those needing to destress and relax and are highly recommended for bodybuilders as a way to keep their muscles long and stretched.