Most people know yoga as a five thousand years old practice. That is not true. The origin of yoga can be traced back at least ten thousand years. Also, there was no one particular form of yoga. In fact, there was no singular form or school of yoga back then. Adi Yogi, also referred to as the first yogi, was the enlightened man who brought together all the best forms of yoga practiced in ancient India and compiled them into what came to be known as yoga thereafter. Till then, they were exercises and meditative techniques that people indulged in as a matter of routine.
Ancient yoga aside, there is no single school of yoga or a particular type that you need to endorse. There are various types of yoga. When we talk of types, they are not necessarily classified according to the level of difficulty or complexity. Yoga can be classified into various types simply on the basis of what it does to your body and mind. Let us explore the basic types of yoga practices that you may be already aware of and if not then should know of.
Simply hatha is a type of yoga where the focus is entirely on posture and body movements. The various exercises in hatha yoga simply allows you to gain full control of your body, to move the various parts in a slow pace and gently holding specific postures or forms for several breaths. This is considered as one of the beginner levels of yoga.
Vinyasa is another form of yoga that encourages fluidic movements, almost as a dance form. It requires similar movements as hatha yoga with full control of your body including your breathing but the movements are faster. Vinyasa is often practiced with rhythmic music to establish the beats to which you would practice the various postures and movements.
Iyengar yoga is another type where the focus is entirely on detail. It is not how you are standing, lying down, sitting or attaining a posture. It is about how perfect your posture is and you need to hold onto the particular posture for a much longer time than vinyasa or hatha. The interesting element about this approach is that you wouldn’t be able to hold onto a posture for a very long time unless the form is perfect. If your posture has even the tiniest of deviation from the natural form that your body must take in that state, then you would struggle to hold onto that posture as you breathe in and out.
Ashtanga yoga is a series of postures attained in the same way and repeated in the same sequence. Every day you would be performing the preset number of postures for the selected period of time. The focus of this form of yoga is to increase the heat inside the body. It facilitates better blood circulation and pumps up the heart rate in a healthy way. Ashtanga yoga is quite stringent with its guidelines and is usually performed with a teacher in attendance.
Bikram yoga is a more contemporary form. It has been developed bearing in mind the challenges of modern day lifestyles where people don’t necessarily have a lot of time and want to lose weight with yoga. Bikram yoga has a series of twenty six poses with two different breathing exercises. The entire session lasts ninety minutes and ideally in a studio or room that has 40% humidity with the temperature fixed at 105 degrees Fahrenheit.
Hot yoga has become quite popular in recent times. It is not very different from bikram yoga because you would be in a hot room but there are much more than the twenty six poses. There is no limit to how many poses you can try. It depends on the teacher or guru. This form of yoga is good for those who want to sweat it out.
Kundalini yoga is one of the more difficult types of yoga. It was made popular by celebrities like Russell Brand. Kundalini yoga is mentally and physically demanding. Not only would you be performing some really daunting poses but you would also need to be stringent with your breathing. You would have to sing, chant and meditate, alternately or from time to time depending on the posture you are practicing. The objective of kundalini yoga transcends typical goals. Not only are you to attain optimum fitness and increase your endurance but you would be eyeing breaking down your physical and psychological barriers. Kundalini yoga is physically exhausting but it is also spiritually satiating. Other types discussed above don’t really delve into the spirituality of yoga.
There are many other types of yoga, some ideal for everyone while some are only meant for advanced practitioners.
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