Healthy Beginnings

Yoga Possibilities: Finding Balance

All yoga is aimed at bringing balance to the physical, mental and spiritual parts of ourselves. Yet the emphasis of the various styles of yoga taught and practiced today differ considerably one to the next, even though they are based on the same postures (called asanas or poses). We hope the overview below will encourage you to try this wonderful activity.

4440275958_7b5cd3346d_zAnanda: A gentle yoga combining breath awareness, affirmations, and yoga postures to move from body awareness to energy awareness to silent, inner awareness. Using affirmations while in the asanas is its distinct feature. Ananda was developed by American Donald Walters (Swami Kriyananda) who devoted 45 years of his life to studying the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda.

Anusara: A new style developed by John Friend, Anusara yoga is described as heart-oriented, spiritually inspiring, yet grounded in a deep knowledge of outer and inner body alignment. Each student’s abilities and limitations are respected and honored.

Ashtanga: Features several set sequences of postures, flowing at a vigorous pace, designed to build flexibility strength and stamina. Practitioners synchronize their breath with the postures and focus on continuity of movement and elimination of toxins through body heat. Introduced to the west by Patabai Jois.

Bikram/hot Yoga: Based on 26 traditional Hatha Yoga postures specially sequenced, beginning with Sun Salutations. Classes are given in heated rooms reaching 90 – 105 degrees and humidity at 60%. Practitioners sweat to remove toxins. Frequently referred to as `Hot Yoga’. Began in the west by Bikram Choudhury in 1971.

Hatha: Hatha is a very general term that can encompass many of the physical types of yoga. Hatha style generally means a slow-paced and gentle class, and provides a good introduction to the basic yoga poses.

Integral Yoga: Places almost as much emphasis on pranayama (control of breath) and meditation as it does on postures. It was developed by Swami Satchidananda who taught the crowds at Woodstock to chant “om” for peace, and his student, Dr. Dean Ornish, who uses integral yoga in his treatment of heart patients.

Iyengar: Focuses primarily on precise posture alignment, held for longer periods of time, along with mental discipline to experience the full benefits of yoga. Assistive props are frequently used to help hold the postures for beginners. Iyengar principles are used by other styles. Teachers undergo especially rigorous training and may also be certified in yoga therapeutics. The Iyengar style was developed by B.K.S. Iyengar.

Kripalu: Emphasizes proper breath, alignment, coordinating breath and movement, and “honoring the wisdom of the body.” It include 3 stages, beginning with the steady practice of postures, then holding the postures longer, developing concentration and inner awareness; and finally surrendering to the body’s own wisdom. The end goal is the experience of meditation-in-motion.

Kundalini: Integrates postures, breath techniques, chanting and to stimulate and move the normally dormant spiritual energy at the base of the spine. Postures emphasize flexing the spine and repetitive movement over holding classic static postures. Introduced to the west by Yogi Bhajan in 1968.

Sivananda: Focuses on proper postures, proper breathing (Pranayama), proper relaxation (Savasana), proper diet (Vegetarian), positive thinking and meditation (Dhyana). Chanting and meditation are emphasized. Brought by Swami Vishnudevananda to the west in 1957.

Tantra: Known as the Yoga of Love, tantra uses visualization, chanting, breathing, individual and couples asanas, and sensory awakening practices to enhance the energy flow in the body and connect mind, body and spirit.

Viniyoga: A deep and gentle yoga that synchronizes poses with the breath, focusing on the spine and using minimal effort in bringing the body into pose alignment. Sequences are tailored to each persons needs and abilities, with an emphasis on Therapeutics. Viniyoga incorporates chanting, pranayama (breath work), and meditation. Created by Krishnamacharya.

Vinyasa: A synchronization of flowing postures and rhythmic breathing that delivers a mind-body workout. Although it does not adhere to any specific sequence, the core of Vinyasa is the Sun Salutation, a series of postures meant to warm up the body for more challenging postures.

Yin Yoga: Rooted in the ancient fact that yoga was developed to strengthen the body to allow for longer meditation, Yin Yoga targets the lower body: the pelvis, hips, and lower spine. Positions are held for three to five minutes or more, and focus is on the postures based on yin (connective tissue and joints). Developed by American yogi, Paul Grilley.