India is the birthplace of yoga, and in the thousands of years that Indian people have practiced it, they have developed many different schools of thought and different styles of yoga. This article will tackle such styles.
Keep in mind that many of the newer forms of yoga that are popular in the West are not included here, such as “hot yoga”. The reason is that they are non-traditional and not often used in India.
Hatha is the term that describes all types of yoga that teach poses, or asanas, in line with focused breathing, or pranayama. Hatha yoga aims to make you relax your body and mind so that you can proceed with other spiritual exercises, like meditation. Most of the yoga classes in the West teach Hatha yoga.
Vinyasa is another general term that describes practices using continuous movement from one pose to the next. Because the transition from one pose to another should be as smooth and deliberate as possible, practitioners need to master synchronized breathing. The constant flow of the poses along with deep breathing will help even new students to become more mindful with the practice and prevent their minds from wandering.
Ashtanga includes a series of poses that are somewhat similar to the ones used in Vinyasa yoga. However, the same poses must be performed in the same order every time. Each succeeding pose gets increasingly more difficult. This type of yoga is the most physically demanding of the lot. It also causes a lot of internal heat, which will assist your muscles and internal organs to detoxify.
Started by B.K.S Iyengar, which is one of the pioneers of modern yoga, this type of yoga focuses more on the small details included with each pose. In Iyengar yoga, students will need to hold the poses much longer compared to the other styles. They are instructed to be more mindful about their muscles’ alignments when performing different poses.
Kundalini yoga is a style that borrows parts from other styles. The thing that makes this type of yoga different is that its purpose is to awaken the students’ energy, which is located at the base of the spine, and then channel it through the seven chakra locations in the body. Kundalini yoga utilizes repeated deep breathing and movements to make the energy circulate throughout the body.
There are many more variations of yoga that stick to the traditional Indian style. If you want to experience yoga the way that its originators intended it to be, look for studios that provide the real deal.