Different Styles Of Yoga Asana Practice & The Evolvement For The Modern World

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The beginnings of Yoga were developed by the Indus-Sarasvati civilization in Northern India over 5,000 years ago. The word yoga was first mentioned in the oldest sacred texts, the Rig Veda.

The Vedas were a collection of texts containing songs, mantras and rituals to be used by Brahmans, the Vedic priests.

Yoga was slowly refined and developed by the Brahmans and Rishis (mystic seers) who documented their practices and beliefs in the Upanishads, a huge work containing over 200 scriptures.

The most renowned of the Yogic scriptures is the Bhagavad-Gîtâ, composed around 500 B.C.E.

The Upanishads took the idea of ritual sacrifice from the Vedas and internalized it, teaching the sacrifice of the ego through self-knowledge, action (karma yoga) and wisdom (jnana yoga).

The physical Asanas or poses are actually only one limb of eight that makes up the tradition of Yoga.

In India the Yoga Asanas were only a physical tool used to keep the body (and therefore mind) flexible to enable the yogis to sit for long periods of time in meditation.

Allowing them to abide in the healing prana (or chi/energy) in the breath, helping to open and expand the mind into greater realities and dimensions.

Through the vigilant practise of yoga; combining movement, breath, concentration and stilling or quieting down the mind, the yogi moves steadily towards the state of Samadhi or bliss which is the 8th Limb of Yoga.

Asana Is The 3rd Limb Of The 8 Limbs Of Yoga

The Following Is A List Of 10 Different Yoga Styles Practicing Asanas (Poses).

There are more styles evolving as Yoga becomes a modern practice for the 21st Century Lifestyle.

Hatha

Hatha yoga is a generic term that refers to any type of yoga that teaches physical postures. Nearly every type of yoga class taught in the West is hatha yoga.

When a class is marketed as hatha, it generally means that you will get a gentle introduction to the most basic yoga postures.

You probably won’t work up a sweat in a hatha yoga class, but you should end up leaving class feeling longer, looser, and more relaxed.

Ashtanga

Ashtanga is based on ancient yoga teachings, but it was popularized and brought to the West by Pattabhi Jois (pronounced “pah-tah-bee joyce”) in the 1970’s.

It’s a rigorous style of yoga that follows a specific sequence of postures and is similar to vinyasa yoga, as each style links every movement to a breath. The series can be customized to suit any body type at any level.

Classes move at a rigorous pace with “vinyasas” (plank-chaturanga-up dog-down dog transitions) between poses and plenty of hands-on attention from the teacher.

There is no music and each pose is held for three to five breaths, and classes last 75-90 minutes, though a beginner class is often shorter. Props are not traditionally used, but many teachers will allow them.

The difference is that ashtanga always performs the exact same poses in the exact same order. This is a hot, sweaty, physically demanding practice.

Bikram

This is a new modern Yoga, approximately 30 years old and is very popular in the Western world as it attracts celebrities who maintain that it is an excellent and fast weight loss program.

It is quite controversial in that it is an ego based yoga using mirrors with the best practitioners at the front of the class. Bikram Choudhury developed this school of yoga where classes are held in artificially heated rooms up to 42 deg.

In a Bikram class, you will sweat like you’ve never sweated before as you work your way through a series of 26 poses (like ashtanga, a Bikram class always follows the same sequence, although a Bikram sequence is different from an ashtanga sequence).

Bikram Choudhury has trademarked his sequence and has prosecuted studios who call themselves Bikram but don’t teach the poses exactly the way he says they should.

Avoid these class if you have injuries as the heated room can tend to mask injuries and practitioners often over stretch and damage ligaments and muscles.

Iyengar

This yoga was developed and popularized by B.K.S. Iyengar (pronounced “eye-yen-gar”). Iyengar is a very meticulous style of yoga, with utmost attention paid to finding the proper alignment in a pose. In order to help each student find the proper alignment.

Yoga props, such as blocks, blankets, straps, chairs, bolsters, and a rope wall are all common in an Iyengar class. It is physically and mentally challenging and Iyengar teachers must undergo a comprehensive training.

Iyengar Yoga is wonderful for balancing an injured body due to the precise and guided instruction. It is great for beginners, those recovering from injuries, and anyone with mobility issues. Appropriate for young and old.

Restorative

Restorative Yoga and Pilates is a wonderful way to relax and soothe stressful minds and bodies.

Restorative classes use bolsters, blankets, and blocks to prop students in passive poses so that the body can experience the benefits of a pose without having to exert any effort.

A good restorative class is more rejuvenating than a nap. These classes are offered at the end of a busy week on a Friday evening when rest and recovery is required.

Vinyasa or Flow Yoga

Vinyasa (pronounced “vin-yah-sah”) is the Sanskrit word for “flow”, and vinyasa classes are known for their…..

You can read the FULL version of this article in our quarterly eZine, ‘Holistic Living Magazine,’ look for Edition 9 on this archive page.  There’s many more articles about beliefs waiting for you too!

Jill Healy-Quintard

Jill Healy-Quintard – Yoga Teacher

 

2 COMMENTS

  1. Wonderfully educational piece. Thank you very much for writing. Absolutely loved it. I’ll save it in my records. Working on a new book for friends and family and this was very enlightening.

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