The Yoga Practices
Hatha Yoga is a physical practice based on the original form of Yoga using a combination of holding physical postures (asanas) focusing on alignment and strength using breathing to focus. It originates from ‘Ha” meaning sun, and ‘tha’ meaning moon and focuses on creating balance and deep relaxation.
Iyengar yoga was developed in India and brought to the western world by B.K.S Iyengar and emphasises precise movement, posture and the development of balance and accurate alignment. Iyengar Yoga advocates the use of props to help the body into correct position during each posture such as blocks, chairs and blankets.
Sivananda was developed by Swami Vishnu-Devananda and has become one of the largest schools of Yoga. It follows a set structure with 12 basic asanas and five principels (proper exercise, proper breathing, proper relaxation, proper diet, positive thinking and meditation).
Ashtanga Yoga literally means “eight-limb Yoga” and is outlined by the sage Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras. According to Patanjali this practice is the path of internal purification through a series of asanas (postures grouped in six series) and vinjasa (linking breath and movment) and for revealing the ultimate self. The breathing technique preformed through the practice is called Ujjayi (victorious breath) through the nose and contracting the glottis so the breath sounds ocean like.
Vinyasa Flow/Power Yoga
A variation from the traditional Ashtanga system Vinyasa Flow Yoga has become increasingly popular using cycle or movement from one to the other. You move through poses in sequence using the breath to link one movement to another in a unified flow leading to fluidity, strength and freedom within body and mind.
Modern Bikram Yoga is taught in heated studios in temperatures 40 degrees or more. A Bikram Yoga Class consists of a series of asana (postures) said to be designed to scientifically warm and stretch the muscles, ligaments and tendons along with controlled breathing.
Viniyoga was developed by T.K.V. Desikachar, the son of Krishnamacharaya (a renown yoga teacher) and offers flowing movement or vinjasa is similar to Ashtanga and Flow Yoga’s dynamic series of poses, but performed in a greatly reduced pace and intensity which is easier for beginners. It emphasises the breath, coordinating breath with movement teaching the participants to apply the tools of yoga (poses, chanting, pranayama and meditation) in the individual practice.
Sikh Yogi Bhajan brought Kundalini Yoga to the West in 1969 when he challenged tradition and began to teach it in public. This form of Yoga focuses on the controlled release of kundalini energy (spiritual energy and life force) resided at the base of the spine. Kundalini Yoga is based on specially formulated sets of exercises using the breath which aims to move the energy quickly.
Integral Yoga is a combination drawing upon specific elements of different Yoga forms such as the physical Hatha Yoga, Raja Yoga (balance and control the mind through concentration and meditation), Karma Yoga (selfless service), Bhakti Yoga (the path of devotion by constant love, chanting), Jnana Yoga (intellect and knowledge), Japna Yoga (repetition of mantra representing a specific aspect of the divine). Integral Yoga is a wonderful cocktail integrating all aspect of Yoga.
Restorative Yoga is all about ‘less is more’. It requires less postures focusing on spending time in each posture (floor based) lengthening muscles creating space. The use of deep slow breathing is encouraged enhancing relaxation and peace of mind and people use bolsters, the floor and other supports to enhance the luxurious unwinding.
By Wenche Beard (You can read more about Wenche, one of our lovely BAMbassadors here.)
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