Seven Types of Yoga

One of the best things about yoga is that it is easy on the body. Anyone, of any fitness level, age or gender can do it. Even those with previous injuries or physical ailments can do yoga. You have the ability to start out slowly performing some of the easier positions and then work your way up to the more difficult stances. For those who are very fit, some yoga offers a much more intensive workout, so there is definitely something for everyone.How many types of yoga are there?Contrary to popular belief yoga is not simply one set of poses. There is much more to it than that and a wide variety of different yoga styles that you can choose from, although in the West, the practice is normally referred to as yoga, as Western instructors normally combine a few of the methods and create their own unique styles of yoga to suit their goals.Traditionally, there are 6 different types of yoga that are practiced around the world, but 7 if you include the new form, Bikram, which has been widely commercialized and is extremely popular.1. Hatha
2. Raja
3. Karma
4. Bhakti
5. Jnana
6. Tantra
7. BikramSo let’s go into more detail about each type of yoga and what it involves:Hatha YogaHatha (meaning sun) is the most commonly practiced form of yoga in the Western hemisphere with two important principles that are promoted:• Meditation
• Improving Energy Within the BodyThe meditation includes finding a position that is the most comfortable for you and as you gain strength and become more advanced you will find the one that is best for you. Most people go with the lotus position. The lotus position is done seated with your legs crossed and intertwined. The left foot is over the right thigh and the right foot is over the left thigh.Improving energy within the body is done using various poses and focusing on the light energy that travels through your body. It is about bringing positivity and healing into your body.Raja YogaRaja (royal) is slightly more difficult than Hatha, but similar, and requires more control and self discipline, as it aims to achieve awakening and enlightenment. It is also known as Classical yoga or Ashtanga yoga and focuses on the principles of meditation, concentration, and mind/body discipline. As per the eightfold path to enlightenment teachings, there are 8 limbs, or parts, to Raja yoga:1. Moral discipline
2. Self restraint
3. Concentration
4. Meditation
5. Breath control
6. Posture
7. Sensory inhibition
8. EcstasyRaja yoga aims to control thought waves and calm the mind, allowing you to eventually achieve self awareness.Karma YogaKarma (discipline of action) is generally referred to in the sense of doing good or bad to others will result in the same thing happening to you. In yoga terms, Karma means a selfless action and to perform this kind of yoga, you are supposed to surrender yourself and serve humanity and mankind selflessly.Karma yoga is based in Hinduism and was founded by Bhagavad Vita. The main aim of this type of yoga is to purify the mind and heart, getting rid of negative energy and negative thinking. The important aspect of Karma yoga that you must understand is that you will learn to have no attachment to the results of your actions, as this will lead you to freedom of fear and sorrow.Karma yoga as you can see is more spiritually based than physically and there are no specific poses that are linked to this type, but it is more about using the best postures that you are comfortable with, therefore they tend to be simpler.Bhakti YogaBhakti is about divine love and faith, and is a more spiritual type of yoga, where the person devotes time to all living things including humans, offering forgiveness and practicing tolerance. It is very similar to Karma yoga. The forms of love that this type of yoga focuses on are:1. Material love
2. Human love
3. Spiritual loveBhakti movements originate in Hindu scriptures and there are 9 principles that are followed which are:1. Srvana (Listening)
2. Kirtana (Praising)
3. Smarana (Remembering)
4. Pada-Sevana (Rendering Service)
5. Arcana (Worshiping)
6. Vandana (Paying homage)
7. Dasya (Servitude)
8. Sakhya (Friendship)
9. Atma-Nivedana (Surrender to Self)Bhakti yoga follows more meditation rather than physical poses.Jnana YogaJnana, also called Gyana yoga, is a Hindu philosophy all about the right of knowledge and true wisdom. It focuses on clearing the mind and releasing negative energy from the body and mind. Through this type of yoga you take the path to enlightenmentJnana can be followed along with all other paths of yoga and starts from the experiences that everyone has, allowing you contemplate deeply in order to realize the truth.Jnana yoga focuses on uses three main points or principles which are:1. Viveka (the path to self realization)
2. Neti-Neti (removal of false ego and materialism)
3. Vicara (Final understanding of self realization)These principles allow the yogi to follow the correct process to gain the real knowledge or truth about themselves and their lives. This is also more meditative than physical.Tantra YogaTantra (expansion) is the one type that most people are curious about as it focuses on erotic sensuality and sexual well being. It teaches enlightenment through transcending oneself using a system of rituals. It is about becoming aware of your body and expanding your mind so that you can gain access to all levels of consciousness. The various rituals that are practiced bring out both the female and male aspects in each person and this is said to be the only way to awaken the spirit deep within.While sex is one of the rituals, it is not the main part of tantra yoga. Some practitioners even suggest a life of celibacy.There are tantra yoga poses for couples to do together to enhance their sexuality and gain a special type of connectedness in their relationship, but it can also be done individually which is actually called Kundalini yoga.Tantra poses are similar to the traditional ones like downward dog and warrior, but they require relaxation and the ability to push oneself and expand further. The pelvic tilt, the yab-yum, and Hercules are other common Tantra yoga poses.This form of yoga is great for both physical and mental awareness.Bikram YogaBikram yoga was not included in the traditional 6 forms that are usually talked about, as it is a relatively new form of yoga, but well worth mentioning as its popularity as soared. It is also called Hot Yoga.It was developed by Bikram Choudhury with 26 postures and 2 forms of breathing exercises. This type of yoga is done in a very hot room where the temperature is roughly 40 degrees Celsius or 105 degrees Fahrenheit.This form of yoga is more physical and is about detoxifying the body through excessive sweating whilst toning and building strength. The added warmth also helps the body’s flexibility and encourages muscle pliability therefore reducing injury, strains, and also relieves tension.

Yoga Lovers – Are You Stuck In A Rut? – Shake Up Your Yoga Practice Today

As someone who has loved and practiced yoga since 1998, I have a huge beef* with today’s mainstream yoga ‘industry’. (*with apologies to the vegetarians and vegans out there)My beef is this: these days, far too many yoga studios pander to what’s in vogue and trendy, jumping on the bandwagon du jour to give their customers what they think they want.Sadly, this seems to be at the expense of giving their customers something ‘different’, while educating, informing and inspiring the ever-growing population of yogis and yoginis that there is a whole world of yoga out there beyond Hot Yoga, Ashtanga or Power Yoga.I’m on a mission. And my mission is to help you identify if in fact you’re in a yoga rut; to help you break out of that rut; and shake things up by introducing you to a bright shiny world of yoga, beyond what you’re probably currently doing.My personal experience/history with yoga started with my first Hatha class in 1998, in a non-descript little studio in a suburban strip mall. Back then, yoga was still quite fringe and not that ‘trendy’. The owner and teacher, a middle-aged Englishman who had clearly spent a large part of his younger years hanging out with yogis and gurus in India, gave me what I know now to be my solid foundation and profound love for yoga that continues to serve me today.And over the past 15 years, I have tried several other types of practice – Ashtanga, Kripalu, Iyengar, Restorative, Bikram, Jivamukti, Anusara, Kundalini, Moksha, Power, and Yin – feeling a natural affinity for some… and a complete aversion to others (just because it’s yoga, doesn’t mean that it’s all great!)I share this fact not to impress or dazzle you, but because I feel that most yoginis (and yogis) today are doing themselves a huge disservice.Yes, I’m thrilled that you’re practicing yoga, but are you stuck in a yoga rut?Here are 5 easy questions to ask yourself to spot if you are.Do you only ever go to Hot Yoga classes, or high-intensity Ashtanga, Power or Vinyasa classes?
Did you jump straight into the world of yoga through Hot Yoga without trying any other type of yoga beforehand?
Can you name 5 other different types of yoga? Have you tried one or more types?
Do you know how and when different types of yoga can benefit you (your mind, body and soul) and why?
Do you know where to find these classes in your city?Not only is variety the spice of life even in yoga, but shaking up your regular routine and practice is a wonderful way to get in sync with what your mind/body/spirit needs on any given day, which is never going to be the same from one day to the next.For instance, if you’re feeling sluggish, a vigorous Ashtanga or Vinyasa class is exactly what you need to get your energy going.In the Fall when it’s cold, windy and wet and you’re chilled to the bone, there’s nothing better than the warmth of a Moksha or Hot Yoga class.And if you’re a driven, intense Type A personality and have just done an intense 60-minute spin class, the best thing for your body would be a gentle yet highly effective Restorative class, or even a Hatha class, to gently stretch out your muscles… and not a 75-minute Hot Yoga class!!Don’t get me wrong. I love my Moksha (Hot Yoga) practice, but there are many days that, and in spite of living in a major urban center, I wish I had easier access to a Kripalu, Restorative or wonderful ‘old school’ Hatha class when I felt like it, and within walking distance. Unfortunately, it all boils down to demand and supply. Fewer people today are clamoring for Kripalu, Hatha, Kundalini or Restorative classes than they are for Hot Yoga or Ashtanga/Vinyasa/Power yoga classes.In an effort to help you break out of your yoga rut, here’s my personal ‘playlist’ of 5 different types of yoga for you to explore and shake up your routine.The key here is to try a different type of yoga class and see how it resonates with you, and then moving forward, remember to tune in to what your mind/body/soul needs on any given day, by opting for one of these instead of doing the same-old-same-old type of class week after week, which not only puts repetitive action stress and strain on your muscles and joints, but also limits the magic and postiive impact of your yoga practice in your life, on and beyond the mat.HathaHistorically, Hatha Yoga describes any of the physical practices of yoga. Today, a class marketed as Hatha generally means that you will get a gentle, slow-paced introduction to the most basic yoga postures, with no flow between poses. You probably won’t work up a sweat in a Hatha yoga class, but you should end up leaving the class feeling longer, looser, and more relaxed. A Hatha class is a good place to learn beginners poses, relaxation techniques, and become comfortable with yoga in general. It incorporates foundational asanas (postures), pranayama (regulated breathing) and meditation.KripaluKripalu is called the yoga of consciousness. This gentle, introspective practice guides practitioners to hold poses to explore and release emotional and spiritual blockages. Kripalu is 180° away from goal-oriented Power or Ashtanga practices. Striving is discouraged and precise alignment is not as important as in some other yoga traditions. There are three stages in Kripalu yoga. Stage One focuses on learning each posture and exploring your body’s abilities. Stage Two involves holding postures for an extended time, developing concentration and inner awareness. Stage Three is like a meditation in motion in which the movement from one posture to another arises unconsciously and spontaneously. It’s simply blissful!RestorativeIn a Restorative yoga class, you’ll spend long periods of time lying on blocks, blankets and yoga bolsters in passive poses that allow your muscles to relax. It’s an absolutely delicious way to way to melt away stress and soothe frayed nerves, and is also highly beneficial if you’re recovering from an injury or illness. Contrary to what you many think, these passive poses are extremely powerful and effective, without having to exert the kind of effort you would in another type of practice. That said, a good Restorative class is more rejuvenating than a nap. Studios often offer them on Friday nights. What better way to shake off a stressful week and energize yourself for your weekend.YinYin yoga is a quiet, meditative yoga practice. It is also called Taoist yoga. Yin focuses on lengthening connective tissues and is meant to complement yang yogas (the more physically exerting muscle-forming Ashtanga, Vinyasa or Flow type practices) Yin poses are passive, but not in the same way as Restorative yoga. With Yin, you’re supposed to relax muscles and let gravity do the work. Full disclosure: in Yin, you can expect to hold the poses for a long time, 5 to 20 minutes in some cases. Not only does that create space as well as restore and expand your range of motion, but it’s a great opportunity to practice meditation and quieting the monkey mind. One of the amazing things about Yin yoga is that it enables you to release those deep, intense bundles of tension that most of us hold in our key joints: ankles, knees, hips, the whole back, neck, and shoulders. And the outcome is increased flexibility while appreciating your body’s individual abilities.KundaliniKundalini practice concentrates on awakening the energy at the base of the spine and drawing it upward. In addition to postures, a typical class will also include chanting, meditation, and breathing exercises. What you can expect is constantly moving, invigorating poses. The fluidity of the practice is intended to release the Kundalini (serpent) energy in your body. Most people aren’t aware that they even have it – that is, Kundalini energy. The easiest way to think of it is as an energy supply, coiled like a sleeping snake at the base of the spine, waiting to be awakened and tapped. And the Kundalini practice aims to do just that – awaken and pulse a powerful prana/life force energy upward through the body. What you can expect from a Kundalini practice is an amazing yoga buzz, breathing that will skyrocket your energy, and postures and meditation that will keep you grounded and focused. It’s more than just a great workout; it’s great for anyone seeking greater spiritual and mind/body awareness.So there you have it. 5 new yoga practices to explore. What are you waiting for???