Guest Post by Maria Rainier
For years now, yoga has been a go to physical activity for those wishing to gain a healthier lifestyle physically, mentally, and spiritually. While there are numerous different styles of yoga, nearly all yoga styles are focused on developing control of your body and mind through different physical poses.
While all yoga styles aim to balance your body, mind and spirit, each different yoga style goes about it in a different way and with a different focus. Yoga poses work to elongate and strengthen your muscles while also building on your balance and stability. These different yoga styles and techniques focus on specific areas of your physical or mental health, so that you can choose the one that will most benefit your being.
Vinyasa: Fluid Yoga
This is a very popular style of yoga that is known for its fluid, movement-intensive practices. In vinyasa classes, teachers will choreograph their classes to smoothly transition from one pose to another. These classes often focus on a variety of different physical and mental things, varying in every class and with every instructor.
Vinyasa is typically fast-paced, providing strengthening poses, deep stretching poses, awakening poses, and meditative poses. With so much variety available from one class to another, vinyasa is a very popular choice for students wishing to gain a full yoga experience. Other than almost certainly including Sun Salutations, no two classes will be the same. Vinyasa is style of yoga that is often translated and embedded within other yoga styles.
Ananda: Meditation Yoga
This yoga style focuses primarily on breath awareness, affirmations, and posture. Through these three focuses, ananda takes an individual from body awareness through energy awareness and finally to inner awareness. It is this inner awareness that makes ananda yoga’s primary focus meditation.
Affirmations are a long standing tradition in yoga and one of the central focuses of ananda yoga. In yoga, affirmations are a form of positive self talk that is repeated over and over as one performs a yoga position. Anada meditative yoga is a wonderful way to find balance in your life both physically and mentally.
Ashtanga: Power Yoga
Ashtanga is known as power yoga, concentrating on providing a serious workout in a fast-paced setting. This form of yoga combines sequential poses performed one after the other. This fast-paced posing creates a physically demanding workout that challenges the lungs and heart. Ashtanga yoga provides a wonderful way to build strength, flexibility, and stamina.
Bikram: Hot Yoga
A fairly new form of yoga, Bikram yoga has become a popular trend among yoga goers everywhere. Bikram yoga is practiced in a room that is 95 to 100 degrees warm, making for a sweaty workout. This heated room enables your tight muscles to loosen up significantly more than traditional yoga does. Also, the profuse sweating that you do during Bikram is thought to be a form of cleansing. Bikram yoga focuses primarily on stretching out muscles and promoting flexibility.
Iyengar: Symmetry and Alignment
Developed over 60 years ago, Iyengar yoga promotes strength, flexibility, endurance, and balance through careful breathing exercises and poses that require precise body alignment. This style of yoga tends to stress holding poses for a longer duration of time so that individuals can focus on correct body positioning.
While many styles of yoga encourage flow, moving from one position to another rather quickly, Iyengar is much slower paced. Iyengar emphasizes holding a pose for a long time so that you can find the position that provides the greatest benefits and avoids potential injury. Oftentimes, Iyengar yoga will use different props such as yoga blankets, straps, and blocks to help bring your body into the right alignment.
Kundalini: Awakening Energy
This style of yoga was at one time kept secret in India as a special power the public could not possess. Today, people perform Kundalini yoga to awaken the energy that is believed to be at the base of their spine. By drawing this power upward, individuals can find more strength and alignment in their minds and body. Kundalini combines breathing exercises, postures, chanting, and meditation all in one. While all asana yoga practices focus controlling your breath, Kundalini explores the effects controlling your breath has on different postures.
As we welcome in a New Year, which style of yoga is calling out to you?
Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education where she writes about education, online colleges and online degrees. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.