yoga: to yoke (unite) with the source of our Being
Find Your Yoga Style
There are nearly 100 different styles of yoga, and new approaches are constantly developed. Here are descriptions of some of the yoga styles:
AcroYoga blends the spiritual awareness of yoga, with Thai massage, partner yoga and Acrobatics. This is a relatively new form of yoga and is for more experienced yogis. It's wonderful to watch. This montage video of AcroYoga from around the world is mesmerizing.
A classical style of gentle Hatha
Yoga that uses breathing and postures accompanied by silent, positive
affirmations to awaken, experience, and begin to control the subtle
energies within us. Ananda yoga is
a relatively gentle, inward experience, not an athletic or aerobic
practice. It was developed by Swami Kriyananda.
Anusara (a-nu-SAR-a) means "following your
heart," or "to move with the current of divine will." It is a style of
yoga developed by John Friend, whose main Hatha influence was B.K.S.
Iyengar. Anusara Yoga is described as heart-oriented, spiritually
inspiring, yet grounded in a deep knowledge of outer- and inner-body
Often called Power Yoga, Ashtanga was
first developed by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois and is an aerobic,
muscle-shaping, mind-sculpting, physically demanding workout. Students
move through a set series of flows, moving from one posture to another to
build strength, flexibility, and stamina. Ashtanga often appeals to athletes and those who enjoy high-energy
Founder Bikram Choudhury's yoga is hot and consists of a series of 26 asanas (each held for at least 10
seconds) and two pranayamas, sometimes twice. The series is designed to
warm and stretch muscles, ligaments, and tendons in a naturally
Body-Mind Centering® Yoga
Combines the activities
of Body-Mind Centering and yoga poses through the conscious embodiment
of the student's cells, tissues, body systems, and developmental
patterns. Proponents of Body-Mind Centering believe that when students
initiate poses in this embodied way, they execute each pose as an
expression of his or her present state of being.
Eclectic (Classical) Hatha Yoga
Rooted in the Eight-Fold Path of Yoga taught by
Patanjali and the Yoga Sutra. On this path, Hatha Yoga is used to prepare for
the higher spiritual practices of Raja Yoga. Sometimes called Classical Yoga.
Forrest YogaForrest Yoga (trademark), developed by Ana Forrest, is a
style of Hatha Yoga focused on developing strength, awakening the senses, and becoming
connected with one’s deep core.
Asanas are practiced in vigorous sequences, and poses are often held for prolonged periods
of time to encourage sweating. Deep and proper breathing is an important part of asana
Gentle / Restorative YogaGentle Yoga is a general term used to describe slower paced Hatha Yoga practice.
Deep and smooth breathing is also emphasized.Gentle Yoga has been used (where appropriate) for physical rehabilitation, arthritis, for
patients confined to a bed, and for individuals with low energy levels.
Emphasize breathing and meditation as well as postures. Swami Satchidananda, who led the crowds at the
original Woodstock festival in an opening chant of "Om," developed
Integral Yoga. It is the style used by Dr. Dean Ornish in his
groundbreaking work on reversing heart disease.
ISHTA—Integrated Science of Hatha, Tantra, and
Ayurveda— is a joyful, beginner-friendly mix of 15 kinds of yoga,
including athletic Ashtanga, flowing Viniyoga, and precise Iyengar,
combined with Tantric meditation techniques and ayurvedic practices to
rebalance one's life. It was developed by Alan Finger and his father Kavi
Yogiraj Mani Finger.
Emphasizes posture and the
development of balance and alignment. To support students' explorations
of postures, Iyengar yoga makes use of a wide variety of props: belts,
blocks, pillows, and balls. Iyengar is one of the most widely practiced
yoga techniques in the West. It was developed in India by B.K.S.
Iyengar and responds to individuals with varying limitations and
capacities for accomplishing postures. Iyengar Yoga is noted for great
attention to detail and the precise alignment of postures.
Kripalu Yoga puts great emphasis on the mechanics
of yoga—proper breath and alignment—as well as on the inner, spiritual
dimensions of yoga practice. Students are encouraged to honor "the
wisdom of the body" and to work according to the limits of their
individual flexibility and strength. There are three stages in Kripalu
yoga. Stage one focuses on learning the postures and exploring your
body's abilities. Stage two involves holding the postures for an
extended time, developing concentration and inner awareness. Stage
three is called "Meditation in Motion," in which movement from one
posture to another arises unconsciously and spontaneously. Kripalu yoga
was developed by Yogi Amrit Desai, who was inspired by his guru, Swami
Kripalvanandaji, a Kundalini Yoga master from India.
Kundalini Yoga in the tradition of Yogi Bhajan,
who brought the style to the West in 1969, focuses on the controlled
release of kundalini energy, thought to reside at the base of the
spine. This style of yoga pays particular attention to breathwork,
which aims to get energy moving quickly, but it also involves classic
poses, coordination of breath and movement, and meditation.
The focus of Natural Yoga, developed by
Dinabandhu and Ila Sarley, is to learn to use the practice of yoga not
only as a physical discipline to tone the body and calm the mind, but
also as a personal spiritual practice. Natural Yoga is the practice of
awakening, attuning to, and being guided by the natural intelligence or
life force within us.
Nidra YogaSometimes Yoga Nidra is inaccurately used to describe a variety of
relaxation practices. However, to properly practice traditional Yoga Nidra (‘Yogic
Sleep’) the empty mind must enter a state of conscious deep sleep (also called the
‘Forth State’). One is fully aware of one's own pure Awareness but nothing else.
There are no thoughts and no worldly impressions.
Partner Yoga is an interactive yoga practice in
which the students may be long-term committed partners or newly met
attendees at a partner yoga workshop. Asanas in partner yoga are
generally familiar yoga postures performed, perhaps with adaptations,
together by two people. Partners may differ in size, shape, strength,
flexibility, and experience. Partner Yoga emphasizes building trust in
and sensitivity to relationship while exploring the balance,
centeredness, and healing qualities of yoga practice.
Power Yoga uncovers
the root causes of stress and provides the means to conquer it,
demonstrates the value of exercise and attitude, and harnesses the
power of discipline and inner balance. It is a muscle-shaping,
mind-sculpting workout that crosses all borders and appeals to any
person who has the desire for true and permanent change in his or her
body and life.
This is a gentle, calming, therapeutic kind of
yoga that uses props to support the body to deepen the benefits of the
poses. It is a soothing and nurturing practice that promotes the
effects of conscious relaxation.
Sivananda, one of the world's largest schools of
yoga, is very supportive to beginners. Developed by Swami
Vishnu-Devananda and named for his teacher, Swami Sivananda, Sivananda
Yoga follows a set structure that includes breathing, classic asanas,
and relaxation, as well as principles of diet and positive thinking. The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga,
written by Swami Vishnu-Devananda and first published in 1960, was one
of the first, and continues to be one of the best, introductions to
Svaroopa is not an athletic endeavor, but a
development of consciousness using the body as a tool. Developed by Y.E.S. founder, Rama Berch, Svaroopa Yoga teaches significantly different ways of doing
familiar poses; it emphasizes opening the spine by beginning at the
base of the spine and progressing through each spinal area in turn.
Each pose integrates the foundational principles of asana, anatomy, and
yoga philosophy, and develops the transcendent inner experience, called
svaroopa. This is a consciousness-oriented yoga that also promotes
healing and transformation.
Vinyasa Flow Yoga
Vinyasa is the term used to describe yoga which flows between asanas in a controlled
system of breath and movement. Since there is only one breath per movement, Vinyasa Yoga
can be quite vigorous and challenging.
Viniyoga is not so much a name of a yoga style as
it is a methodology for developing a personal practice using asanas,
pranayama, meditation, ritual, and prayer. Viniyoga, which was
developed by Krishnamacharya and is carried on by his son, T.K.V.
Desikachar, respects individual needs and capabilities. Key
characteristics of the asana practice are the careful integration of
the flow of breath with movement of the spine and thoughtful sequencing
of asanas. Function is stressed over form.Resources: The Omega Institute, Rhineback, NY
The International Yoga Centers Directory