Types of Yoga (Asanas)

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We saw in the previous article about what Yoga means and the various forms of Yoga. In this article we will look into the different types of Yoga from the perspective of Asanas.

 

The word Asana comes from Sanskrit and it means “posture”. Asanas include positioning your body in a certain way and focusing on specific muscles and joints. This helps in getting exercise, stress relief and in building stamina. Some postures also include specific type of breathing which helps in reducing stress and increase concentration.

 

Yoga postures have been practiced in India from many millennia and have gained worldwide popularity in the recent times. Ideally a Yoga practice focuses on different parts of the body from Head to feet. So as to stimulate the bones and muscles, and also to release any accumulated stress in the body parts.

Though there are different types of Yoga, each type has postures that overlap with another type. Let’s look at the different types of Yoga:

 

Hatha Yoga

Technically all forms of Yoga Asanas can be called as Hatha Yoga. After the emergence of different names, the term Hatha Yoga is being used to mean a basic form of Yoga and breathing exercises. It is easy for beginners to start with Hatha Yoga as it is less demanding and slow enough for easy learning.

 

Vinyasa Yoga

Vinyasa means “to place in a special way”. This style of Yoga involves a flowing sequence of Asanas and breath. The movement from one posture to another almost looks like a dance. A different form of taking breath called Ujjayi breath is used. It can be challenging for beginners. So, recommended for people who already know basic Asanas. Apart from exercise, it also helps in increased focus as breath and postures are in sync.

 

Iyengar Yoga

BKS Iyengar introduced this style of Yoga. He was the first person from India to teach Yoga to the west. It is a form of Hatha Yoga with the focus on the precision of the posture, sequence of postures, and the time spent in each posture. Usage of straps, blankets and blocks is done so that the right posture of an Asana is reached and risk of injury reduced.

 

Bikram Yoga

The philosophy behind this style is that doing Asanas in hot and humid conditions give you the best results. Twenty six postures and two breathing exercises are practiced over ninety minutes at 35–42 °C.

 

It can be pretty intense in the hot and humid condition and the number of calories burned is higher compared to other styles of Yoga.

 

First few sessions of BIkram Yoga may be tough. Getting regular sessions will make it easier and help in increase joint strength, weight loss, and core strength.

 

Restorative Yoga

As the name suggests, this Yoga helps you to heal and relax. It involves getting into a position and holding it by using bolsters, straps or blankets.

 

The postures are held for an extended periods of time, relaxing your body by helping you to release any stuck energy. If you are looking for a calming, therapeutic form of Yoga, and a truly grounding experience this is the Yoga for you.

 

Ashtanga Yoga

It contains six series of very demanding Asanas, designed to synchronise breath with movement. Ashtanga literally means eight limbs. It refers to the eight points mentioned in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali to live a Yoga lifestyle. The series of Asanas and breathing exercises have an effect of detoxifying body and the nervous system.

 

Power Yoga

An athletic form of Ashtanga Yoga which focuses on strenuous Asanas to increase body strength, flexibility and stamina. Many studios are teaching this type of Yoga. It will include some aerobics and Vinyasa Yoga style Asanas. It gives more freedom to the instructor about the sequence of Asanas and is more fitness based than other styles.

 

Hope you had new perspectives on different types of Yoga and how they are beneficial to our body. You can now make an informed choice about the types of Yoga you would want to explore. It is preferable to learn from a trained practitioner, as the teacher will help you learn the Asanas in the right way. Also make sure you discuss about your preferences, health issues and expectations with your teacher.