Anusara is a Sanskrit word that translates into the American phrase “flowing with grace” or “following the heart”. Anusara Yoga began in 1997 under the instruction of a man named John Friend. This spiritually connective form of Yoga is similar to the more popular Hatha Yoga with poses that resemble Iyengar Yoga. This mix of Yoga style aslo has a bit of Tantric teachings as well. These teachings reflect Buddhist and/or Hindu religious ideals that work to positively reform the mind, body, and spoken words or speech. Click here to read more.
Ashtanga Yoga is a term which means “The Eight Limbs of Yoga”. “Astha” means eight, “Anga” means Limbs, and Yoga means Union. Though somewhat light on meditation, Ashtanga is fast moving and intense, proving to be one of the more physically demanding forms of Yoga. Click here to read more about Ashtanga Yoga.
Bikram Yoga is also known as “Hot Yoga” because it is performed in a room heated from 95 to 105 degrees. Developed by Bikram Choudhury, this style of Yoga focuses on twenty-six postures, or asanas, which are performed in a set series that warms and stretches the muscles, ligaments and tendons. This allows your body to get a better stretch and also for you to be able to enter into deeper poses. Click here to read more about Bikram Yoga.
Hatha Yoga is a fairly slow-paced, gentle and mellow form of Yoga which focuses on simple poses that comfortably flow from one to the other. It’s a good type of Yoga for beginners to start with or als for winding down at the end of a hard day.
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Created by B.K.S. Iyengar, Iyengar Yoga is a softer style of Yoga which focuses on body alignment. Like many other Yoga styles, Iyengar has its roots in Hatha Yoga. It is ideal for individuals who are just beginning Yoga or for those who haven’t exercised for awhile and are troubled by back or joint problems. This style of Yoga incorporates props such as chairs, straps, blocks, pillows and sandbags which helps to compensate for a lack of flexibility, and allows people to more comfortabe in the poses.
The Iyengar style focuses on great attention to detail, precise alignment and symmetry of postures, and meditation. The props serve a second purpose by helping Iyengar yogis achieve the best possible pose. Poses are also held longer, unlike Ashtanga yoga which involves constant motion from one pose to the next, and poses are repeated many times. Pranayma can only be attempted once a certain level of mastery has been achieved with the poses. Iyengar yoga can be beneficial for toning muscles, easing chronic pain, and eliminating tension.
Integral Yoga is a style of Yoga which was developed by Swami Satchidananda. Like many other styles of Yoga, the roots of Integral Yoga stem from Hatha Yoga. This form of Yoga has an equal emphasis on Pranayama (Breath Control), Meditation and Asanas (Postures), and also includes chanting and kriyas (specially formulated sets of exercises).
There are eight main goals of Integral Yoga and these include the following:
- Physical health and strength
- Control over the senses
- A well-disciplined clear and calm mind
- A higher level of intellect
- A strong yet pliable will
- Love and compassion
- Pure ego
- Peace and joy
Integral Yoga is a fairly gentle form of Yoga which seeks to transform the entire being including the physical, vital, mental, psychic and spiritual. Through a spiritual realization of God, or enlightenment, there is also a complete change and transformation of the inner and outer nature.
The teachings of Karma Yoga, also commonly referred to as Buddhi Yoga, were derived from ancient Hindu religious texts called the Bhagavad Gita. Karma is the idea that every action a person performs will cause another action to happen to them that reflects the nature of the first. A person’s true intentions can be discovered through their karma. There are four supporting Yogas that deal with the foundation of Yoga, and Karma Yoga is just one of them. The idea of karma is not a threat for one to do good things out of fear of being punished. It is a way of living that brings one love and spiritual superiority. Karma directly relates to Yoga as many Hindi teachings do.
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Kripalu Yoga, also known as the Yoga of consciousness, is a meditation-oriented style of Yoga. With a focus on proper breath and alignment of breath and movement, Kripalu tends to be more spontaneous and flowing than other Yoga styles. There is also a concentration on “honoring the wisdom of the body”, which allows the individual to work according to the limits of his or her flexibility and strength.
Kripalu Yoga is comprised of the following three stages:
- Stage One: The individual learns the postures and proper breathing with a focus on posture alignment and the intertwining of breath and movement. This stage allows the individual to explore his/her body’s own abilities. Poses are typically held for a short period of time.
- Stage Two: Postures are held for longer, more extended periods of time. Individuals also begin mediation, developing concentration and an awareness of his/her thoughts and emotions.
- Stage Three: Postures and meditation combine to create what may be described as meditation in motion. Poses become a spontaneous, dynamic movement with a continuous flow in which movement from one posture to the next occurs unconsciously and spontaneously while in a meditative state.
Kundalini Yoga, which is often said to be the most powerful form of Yoga known today, is a style of Yoga with roots in Hatha Yoga. Kundalini Yoga focuses on the awakening and controlled release of the Kundalini energy located at the base of the spine. Kundalini means ‘coiled up’ in Sanskrit. It is said that the energy at the back of the spine takes the form of a coiled snake, and, by awakening the snake and sending it moving up the spine to the brain, a sublime state of ecstasy and awareness can be achieved. Click here to read more about Kundalini Yoga.
Laya (absorption or dissolution) Yoga is a variation of Kundalini Yoga and like Kundalini Yoga, Laya Yoga involves the awakening of the Kundalini energy located at the back of the spine.
Laya Yoga involves intensive prayer, singing of mantras, meditation, meditation positions and revering as a means of stimulating the Kundalini power. Meditation poses like sitting, standing, lying and walking are practiced, along with focusing, visualization, and rhythm of breathing. Transcendental runs and water relaxation are also practiced. With the ascent of the Kundalini power, various psycho-energetic centers, or chakras, are gradually dissolved, leading to the dissolution of difficulties and negatives as well as liberation from obstacles and problems.
Yoga Nidra, also known as Yogic Sleep or Sleep of the Yogis, is a term which refers to a state of deep conscious sleep. While meditation is performed in a waking state, Yoga Nidra allows the individual to leave the waking state, moving past the dreaming state, and finally entering a deep sleep while still remaining conscious or awake. The individual will appear to be asleep to the outside world though they are fully awake and aware of what is going on.
Yoga Nidra induces a physical, emotional and mental relaxed state. It is often used by Yogis to purify the Samskaras and establish harmony and well-being throughout the entire system. It can also be beneficial by mentally and physically preparing an individual before seeking deeper levels of consciousness and awareness through meditation.
Nude Yoga, also known as Naked Yoga, is simply the practice of Yoga without clothing. The goal of Nude Yoga is to allow the individual to feel free in his or her body and to practice poses and exercises without the restriction of clothing. As with other forms of Yoga, Nude Yoga is meant to unite the body, mind and soul.
Nude Yoga has been practiced with increasing frequency in the West since the 1960’s. Traditional Yoga positions for flexibility and alignment are typically performed.
Power Yoga is a Western interpretation of Ashtanga Yoga that has been gaining in popularity. Like Ashtanga Yoga, Power Yoga has a quick, flowing style which emphasizes flexibility and self discipline, though Power Yoga does not necessarily adhere to the exact sequence of poses associated with Ashtanga Yoga.
While Power Yoga still focuses on uniting the body, mind and spirit like other styles of Yoga, it also provides a rigorous full-body workout as the name suggests. Traditional Yoga practices are used with an emphasis on proper form, synchronized breathing, and increased endurance and flexibility. However, poses are often held for longer than the required five breaths. In addition, Power Yoga is often performed in a heated room. This aids in flexibility and produces sweat which cleanses the body by removing bodily toxins.
There are many benefits to Power Yoga including improved strength, stamina and flexibility and a greater ability to focus. It is also a great way to release tension and anxiety and to learn proper posture. Power Yoga can also tone the body and help improve endurance with athletes.
Prenatal Yoga has been gaining in popularity. Yoga provides an ideal way for women to stay in shape during pregnancy, helping them to stay limber, tone the muscles, and improve balance and circulation. In addition, Yoga can help to prepare women for labor and birth by teaching deep breathing and relaxation. Some poses, such as the Warrior poses, can also help to ease back pain and sciatica. Click here to read more.
Yoga dance is a style of Yoga which, as the name implies, combines Yoga with dance. During a Yoga dance class, individuals typically dance in and out of classic Yoga poses. Some styles of Yoga dance incorporate a variety of moves from martial arts, belly dance, African dance and modern dance. The result is a flowing movement which allows for greater freedom of expression while still providing a full body workout. Yoga dance can strengthen and tone the body, increase flexibility, reduce stress, and increase energy levels.
A Yoga dance class typically begins with a warm-up which then flows into a combination of classic Yoga poses mixed with dance moves, followed by meditation and relaxation techniques. Yoga dance can be very creative, playful, fun and lively while at the same time promoting a sense of calm and well-being.
Yoga may be described as a set of physical practices designed to promote control of the mind and body and to attain spiritual and physical well-being. The practice of Yoga can help to increase self awareness, promote a sense of peace, and increase the body’s strength, endurance and flexibility. Click here to read more.
A woman’s body requires different care than a man’s due to many genetic factors. The biological purpose of the woman’s body is to reproduce, and while this idea is somewhat narrow in our society today, the female body is still composed this way. The breasts are available to produce milk when necessary, there is a higher fat content in the body so it is able to protect a fetus, the menstrual cycle is active, menopause occurs later in life when reproduction is no longer possible, and the hormone estrogen is present. The female body also tends to be less muscular due to the lack of testosterone… Click here to read more
Self-confidence is an essential life skill for children to develop, and parents can be a main source of this. A low self image can lead to many emotional issues in adulthood, including depression and anxiety. This can be avoided with the guidance of some very caring role models, and the positive… Click here to read more
Yoga is often ideal for seniors as it is a form of exercise that can be adapted to an individual’s needs and abilities. There are several more gentle forms of yoga which can rejuvenate the whole body. Click here to read more.
Shiva Yoga is the technique of opening the third eye. It is a style of yoga which involves the practice of awakening the dormant pineal gland, also known as the third eye. The third eye is believed to be an organ of inner vision which embraces eternity. This organ is dormant in man, but once awakened it can give personal access to wisdom. Shiva yoga is an approach to living with a high level of awareness, intelligence and compassion.
Shiva Yoga involves gazing at and worshiping the Ishtalinga or Linga, which is a mark or symbol representative of Shiva, the Third Person of the Hindu Trinity. This act generates magnetism and galvanizes the third eye into activity. The practice of Shiva Yoga may also include the chanting of mantras.
Siddha Yoga is a style of yoga which focuses on discovering the Self, or inner consciousness, in all humans and in everything. Followers of Siddha Yoga aim to help every human realize and experience that all humans have a perfect and divine inner Self and that an end to human suffering and the attainment of supreme bliss can be achieved. It is important in Siddha Yoga that you honor, worship and meditate on your inner Self, realizing that God dwells within you, and that you see the inner Self and God in all others and in everything.
Siddha Yoga is comprised of the following main elements:
- Meditation. Siddha Yoga involves silent meditation which focuses the attention on a mantra, such as the mantra Om Namah Shivaya, or on the flow of breath.
- Chanting. Siddha Yoga involves the practice of chanting Sanskrit mantras. These mantras can be either Nama Sankirtana, which are chants made up of short Sanskrit phrases, or swadhyaya, which are chants comprised of longer texts.
- Seva. Seva is defined as selfless service and is practiced through volunteer work.
- Dakshina. Dakshina refers to a donation of money or a gift made to the Guru as an expression of appreciation.
- Satsang. Satsang refers to group meetings or programs comprised of devotees or other yoga practitioners and often includes talks, meditation and chanting.
Swara is one of many Sanskrit words integrated into the Western world of yoga practice. Swara translates in English to musical note or sound. As a type of yoga, Swara refers to the steady breath taken in through a single nostril. Swara Yoga is a practice that teaches yogis to reach a level of concentration which allows them to focus on controlling each breath that enters through the nostrils. Click here to read more about Swara Yoga.
Tantra Yoga is one of the most misunderstood styles of yoga, having largely become associated with sexual ritual. In truth, Tantra Yoga involves the shakti side of spiritual life, and it focuses on awakening and harmonizing the male and female aspects within each of us in order to spiritually awaken and realize the whole universe as an expression of Shakti, the Cosmic Mother.
Tantra Yoga deals with expanding all levels of consciousness, whether waking, dreaming or sleep states, in order to unveil and realize the Supreme Reality. The practice of Tantra Yoga involves breathing exercises (pranayama), contemplation, visualization and the repetition of mantras. Through these practices, one can learn to identify the factors which influence the thoughts and feelings and to transcend obstacles to evolution resulting from intolerance, ignorance, selfishness and an attachment to our animal nature. Thoughts and feelings are refined while peace, harmony and order is restored within one’s self.
Vinyasa may be defined as breath-synchronized movement. Vinyasa Yoga is a style of yoga which emphasizes the breath. Classic yoga poses, or asanas, are led by the breath, flowing from one to another in conjunction with the breathing. The practitioner of Vinyasa Yoga follows the breath and is moved by the air.
A typical Vinyasa practice may begin with sun salutations which move into more intense stretching, balancing each pose with a counter pose. Vinyasa yoga has a flowing style as individuals move more quickly through the poses rather than holding them for longer periods of time as with other yoga styles. As a result, this style of yoga is often a more active one. Vinyasa yoga can improve flexibility and body tone, increase energy levels, release tension, and promote relaxation.