Types of Yoga

Types of Yoga

Practicing yoga and not knowing what you are doing… is not so interesting. What is important – is being able to know what you are actually doing, being able to choose and decide what your body needs in terms of workout.

There are many different styles and types of yoga being practised around the world. Some of the most common styles are as follows:

Ashtanga Yoga

This is also known as power yoga. This is the truest form of yoga which is still in existence. The word Ashtanga in Sanskrit means the ‘eight limbs’. This form of yoga realigns the spine, detoxifies the body and helps build strength, flexibility and stamina. It is also known to strengthen the nervous system. So, if you are someone who is after building a healthy, detoxified and flexible body then this yoga is for you.

Ashtanga yoga is popular for its energetic and athletic moves. It is shown to provide many benefits, which include relieving the pain of stiff and sore muscles as well as joint pains. This results in flexible and toned muscles.

There are three main sequence groups involved in the practise of ashtanga yoga.

  • The first which is primary series, is about the perfect alignment of the body and getting rid of its toxins.
  • Then you have the intermediate series which purifies the nervous system by opening and clearing channels. This is done by performing a breathing technique during every asana, involving the complete capacity of the lungs whilst doing so.
  • The final step is the advanced series which entails higher levels of flexibility as well as strength and grace.

Every step or series has to be mastered before you move to the next. Personally, I think this is the coolest form of yoga as you can feel the strength and flexibility of your muscles whilst performing each asana.

Bikram Yoga

This style of yoga is now called ‘hot yoga’. It was invented about 40 years ago and is targeted towards weight loss, strength and flexibility. Apart from enhancing weight loss, it also helps in detoxification. It is very interesting how this yoga fights weight loss. In fact it is very interesting to know that it is exactly the same postures we use in ashtanga yoga but the asanas or exercises are performed in a heated room.

The ideal temperature of bikram yoga is maintained between 90 -1100. The humidity within the room is maintained between 40% – 60%. The session involves 26 postures (asanas or exercises), done in a specific order. Each pose is held for about 10-60 seconds.

Bikram yoga is a more modernised form of yoga in comparison to the traditional methods. The only difference though, is that the exercises are done in a heated room. Now what this does to your body is amazing. It actually gives you the feeling of a workout as you tend to sweat a lot whilst performing this type of yoga.

The extreme perspiration caused due to the temperature at which it is performed, cleanses the body of toxins and the heat actually gets the cardiovascular system pumping for an unltimate workout.

The benefits of Bikram yoga include:

  • Weight loss
  • Flexiblity and strength
  • Detoxification of the body
  • Improved immune system

So if you are someone who wants to shed those extra kilos and is not really interested in running on a treadmill or lifting those extra weights, Bikram yoga is the perfect solution. A complete body workout in a hot room offers you the best benefits.

Hatha Yoga

Hatha yoga is an ancient form of yoga. This is the form of yoga through which the other styles of yoga related to fitness and flexibility have originated. The way this yoga works through its meaning is very intriguing. The word ‘Ha’ means ‘sun’ and ‘tha’ means moon. Hence this yoga represents the unification of the positive and negative currents within the human system.

The aim of hatha yoga is to help you achieve a balance between your mind and body. It also sets free, the spiritual elements of your mind through physical poses, breathing techniques and meditation.

This yoga works on all the three aspects of the human system.

  • The physical aspect – Through the physical poses performed in hatha yoga, your body becomes more flexible, has increased endurance and toned muscles
  • The mental aspect – The relaxation exercises that this style of yoga involves, helps you to cope better in a stressful situation and also to release tension.
  • The spiritual aspect – You have been fed with the food for your body and mind, now it is the time to understand the necessary food for your spirit. Meditation, the key word and most used practised in hatha yoga. Meditation helps you focus and concentrate better. In time as most ancient yogis believe you will find enlightenment.

Want a lighter workout for all the three aspects of your body, then hatha yoga is your solution. You can then channel into various forms of yoga, after practicing hatha yoga. Especially if you are a beginner, this is the best option for you.

Iyengar Yoga

Iyengar yoga is a style that focuses on the body’s alignment through the use of various postures and positions. So if you are a beginner, you can start with this style of yoga. What it teaches you is balancing your body, perfect alignment whilst performing the various asanas and balancing both the physical and mental aspects of the human system. This is the form of yoga that teaches exact posture. So all you women out there, if you are seeking a perfect posture whilst standing or even walking, this is the best option for you. ‘Feel good in the way you stand and the way you walk’.

This yoga style is famous for its use of numerous aids or props which include:

  • Cushions
  • Benches
  • Wooden gadgets
  • Yoga straps or belts
  • Sand bags
  • Foam Blocks

Each of these props are used in performing certain poses of iyengar yoga. When practised on a regular basis, iyengar yoga helps assimilate and integrate one’s body with their emotions. The main aim of performing these steps is to ultimately lead a person to a healthier physical and mental state and unite the individuals mind, body and spirit.

Iyengar yoga can interestingly treat various bodily injuries and mental depression. It helps increase flexibility, concentration and overall stamina. This is a form of yoga that may need an instructors’ involvement or a guide that gives descriptive instructions about alignment and misalignment of the body.

This style of yoga emphasises on standing postures as it helps build strong leg muscles which in turn improves your posture by balance and coordination. Hence those looking for a holistic form of exercise should consider this type of yoga.

Kundalini Yoga

Kundalini yoga is known to be the mother of all yogic disciplines among practitioners. It relates to the unison of the body with the divine energy that lies at the heart of our beings. This style of yoga believes in astral projection of the body. It is based on the belief that there is an energy called the kundalini shakti, which lies coiled at the base of our spines, at the fourth vertebrae. The interesting belief is that this energy can be awakened by ardent spiritual practices such as asanas, meditation, breathing exercises and reciting of slokas.

Kundalini yoga is a master-disciple related disciple, where a student needs the guidance of a guru or a teacher for ultimate enlightenment. This could be attained through something called shakipat or divine inititation. The philosophy of kundalini yoga takes its roots from the very esoteric and mystical tantric practices. It is a form of yoga that helps achieve conscious grace-filled awakening.

This is a style of yoga that is believed to help achieve eternal bliss. This is a form of yoga that helps create a story of one’s self in how you attain the great bliss and profound knowledge of the Divine. It is also a very interesting study if actually delved into, as it helps you understand who you are and also how to work on yourself.

There are many physical benefits of kundalini yoga, apart from just the spiritual bliss aspect of it. These include:

  • Hormonal Balance
  • Balanced endocrine system
  • Combat fatigue from stress, anxiety and anger
  • Some of the more pronounced physical ailments that this yoga fights is menstrual irregularities, heart disease, chronic headaches, depression and asthma.
  • The emotional benefits of kundalini yoga involves the elimination of negative feelings like depression, guilt, anger, helplessness and jealousy.

I personally believe that this is a yoga that is designed for people who want to delve into the spiritual realm of yoga and not just base their routines on the physical aspect of it.

Vinyasa Yoga

Vinyasa yoga takes its roots from the ashtanga yoga system. It is believed to bring a link between the breath and movements of the body, which creates internal heat that purifies the body from within. The nature of this yoga style has captured the attention of many practioioners, especially athletes.

The word vinyasa defines ‘breath-synchronised movement’. This is a yoga that focuses on breathing and hence referred to as ‘flow yoga’ as the movements of the body are synchronised with the inhaling and exhaling of the breath.

Every other form of yoga classified in the world acts in coordination with the vinyasa yoga, as breathing is the most important element of yoga. The flexibility aspect of this yoga is what attracts it to people in the west. When performing vinyasa yoga you can expect more stretching exercises. This is the perfect example of customised yoga.

The reason – this yoga does not have a particular style to it, so a practitioner can choose between different asanas or just work on breathing techniques and so on. This yoga involves sun salutations which is the common pose in all the other forms of yoga.

This may lead to an assumption that this yoga may not be appropriate for a proper work out and may be excluded. But this is a wrong assumption. Like every other style of yoga, vinyasa yoga has some of the best benefits.

  • Like the bikram yoga, the vinyasa yoga helps a person to sweat. The heat generated is the internal body heat unlike the hot room in a bikram yoga session.
  • This yoga is an ultimate cross training system used by athletes, with low impact movement, aerobic and muscle toning benefits.
  • Results in incredible transformation within the body due to improved blood circulation and detoxification.

Yoga may be branched into several other styles or forms. But the above mentioned list is what describes the yoga being practiced around the world since several years. It is a theoretical and practical subject that evolves and unfolds a new story, technique or form with each passing day or year. I feel that any form of yoga combined with the perfect and proper diet helps attain a perfect body and the mind.

Mantra yoga

A mantra also known as a sloka, is a single word or a group or words chanted continuously with subtle tones. This quietens the mind and the energetic vibration created whilst chanting creates a force which penetrates the subtle bodies. This results in a profound cleansing effect on the mind. This cleansing process is important to release accumulated dross (the negativity that is caught in the minds lower levels).

The mantra yoga is a detoxification system for the mind which is attained through meditation and the chanting process. This aids in unhindered progress to self realisation.

The mantra yoga is a form of yoga that concentrates on meditation and reaching inner peace and tranquillity by chanting a specific word or sound. The chanting accesses the subconscious mind and all the negative emotions radiating within our minds can be turned into positive emotions. The most common chant is the ‘Om’ which in Sanskrit means spirit and this is referred to as the master mantram.

The word ‘Om’ according to Hindu mythology also means emptiness. So it is believed that when the word ‘Om’ is being chanted he individual is actually emptying their body, mind and soul of all the negative forces operating within themselves.

Mantra yoga, like the other forms of yoga has its own benefits.

  • Concentration
  • Positive and rational thinking
  • Memory retention
  • Provides a calming and soothing effect and thus fights stress and tension.
  • It is also believed to have positive effects on the nervous system.

So, if you are someone who struggles with bad temper, anxiety or stress, then this is the yoga for you. You can spread the positive atmosphere created within you through this form of yoga.

If you wish to know the different diet required to make yoga more effective for the human body for different purposes, please click here.

Category Yoga

Multimag Comments

We love comments
No Comments Yet! You can be first to comment this post!

Your data will be safe! Your e-mail address will not be published. Also other data will not be shared with third person. Required fields marked as *