Introduction to the Basic Types of Yoga

yogabaseThere are quite a number of types of yogas these days that try to differentiate themselves from one another and emphasize certain aspects of yoga.

If you live in a moderately large city, you should be able to find several different kinds of studios and teachers, including:

• Hatha

• Vinyasa

• Kundalini

• Bikram Hatha (HAA-THAA)

Hatha yoga is the most traditional of the yogas. The name means willful or forceful, and the word is a combination of hat, sun and ha, or moon. It works with the energy centers of the body, flesh and bone. The main focus is on surrendering to and perfecting the many poses. There are levels of practitioners who can do increasingly difficult poses for flexibility.

Vinyasa (Vin-YAH-sah.) Vinyasa yoga is also known as flow yoga. It uses the same asanas as hatha but they are put into sequences whereby the body is in constant motion as it moves smoothly from one pose to the next. The word vinyasa means ‘breath-synchronized movement’, with the asana being performed in conjunction with inhale and exhale patterns.

Kundalini yoga (CUNH-dah-LEE-KNEE.) Kundalini yoga emphasizes the balance of mind, body and spirit through the moving of energy in the body. Kundalini yoga has some postures that are not found in any other forms of yoga. These poses, or asanas, are specifically designed to move physical energy up the spine and the main energy channel of the body in traditional medicine, which is known as the central channel. It does not require a lot of flexibility or stamina and can be done by anyone at any age.

Bikram (BEAK-Rahm.) Bikram yoga, founded in the 1970s, is also referred to as hot yoga. It is relatively simple in some ways because it uses 2 breathing exercises and 26 Hatha yoga postures done in the same pattern every day for every lesson. In the studio, temperatures range from 80F to 110F and relative humidity around 75%. This can also cause severe dehydration and pose a serious health risk. Therefore, while Bikram studios are popping up all over the place, it is not recommended for seniors or anyone with an underlying health issue.

If you are a beginner and/or senior, try Hatha or Kundalini if there is a studio near you, and see what a difference yoga can make to your health and vitality.

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