The many traditions of Yoga

Posted: May, 7, 2018 | Author: AmandaP | Level Yoga

When looking to take your first yoga class, new students often assume all yoga is the same. Even trying one class and deciding yoga "isn't for them". This could in fact be due to trying a traditon that isn't a good fit for that persons personality. Or they didn't get what they were seeking from that particular class. It's important to think about what you want from the practice and know what kind of class you are taking. Then you can fully understand if it's the right class for you. The following are different traditions of yoga. All will include asana (yoga postures), most will include pranayama (breathing exercises). 

Hatha Yoga- includes the practice of asanas (yoga postures) and pranayama (breathing exercises), which help bring peace to the mind and body, preparing the body for deeper spiritual practices such as meditation. It is relatively gentle, slow and great for beginners or students who prefer a more relaxed style where they hold poses longer.

Vinyasa- Essentially means movement synchronized with breath and is a vigorous style based on a rapid flow through sun salutations. You may also see a vinyasa class referred to as a flow class, which refers to the continuous flow from one posture to the next. 

Ashtanga- is a system of yoga that was brought to the modern world by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. If you attend an ashtanga class at a studio you will be led nonstop through one or more of the ashtanga series, while being encouraged to breathe as you move from pose to pose. Each series is a set sequence of asanas, always in the same order. It is typically fast-paced, vigorous and physically challenging.

There are six series in total, increasing in difficulty as you move from the primary series on. Even though a typical class moves quite quickly, most Ashtanga studios offer Mysore-style classes, which allow students to work at their own pace and to be assessed by senior instructors.

Bikram- Outside of the instructor, a Bikram class is the same no matter where you go, consisting of the same, copyrighted twenty-six postures and two breathing techniques, in the same order for ninety minutes, in a room heated to 105°F (40.6°C), with a humidity of 40%.

You can also be certain that you will sweat; the room is hot and the class challenges you both physically and mentally. Founded by Bikram Choudhury, this form of hot yoga is meant to flush toxins, manage weight and allow students to move more deeply into poses.

Iyengar-The trademark of iyengar is the intense focus on the subtleties of each posture. In a typical iyengar class, poses are held much longer than in other traditions of yoga, in an effort to pay closer attention to the precise musculoskeletal alignment within each asana. Another trademark of iyengar is the use of props, such as blocks, belts, bolsters, chairs and blankets, which are used to accommodate injuries, tightness or structural imbalances, as well as teach the student how to move into a posture properly.

Anusara- A new system of hatha that teaches a set of Universal Principles of Alignment that underlie all yoga postures, while encouraging flowing with grace and following your heart. Founded by John Friend, the practice of anusara is broadly categorized into three parts, known as the Three A's. They include attitude, alignment and action.

Kundalini- incorporates repeated movements or exercises, dynamic breathing techniques, chanting, meditation and mantras. Each specific kundalini exercise, referred to as a kriya, is a movement that is often repeated and is synchronized with the breath. The practice is designed to awaken the energy at the base of the spine in order to draw it upward through each of the seven chakras. This form of yoga looks and feels quite different than any other, due to its focus on repetitive, enhanced breathing and the movement of energy through the body.

Yin-a slow-paced style in which poses are held for five minutes or longer. Even though it is passive, yin yoga can be quite challenging due to the long holds, particularly if your body is not used to it. The purpose is to apply moderate stress to the connective tissue - the tendons, fascia and ligaments - with the aim of increasing circulation in the joints and improving flexibility.

Restorative- a gentle, relaxing, passive style that allows students to relax and release the body into a gentle stretch that is held for as long as 10 minutes. This style makes use of a wide range of props, including bolsters, blocks, straps and blankets. The intention is to provide support within each pose, making it easier to completely let go.

At Vero Beach Yoga Barre, we offer Vinyasa, Yin and Ashtanga (seasonally). During special events and workshops others may be offered, such as restorative, pre/post natal, and Kundalini. We also offer Vinyasa in warm (80 degrees) and hot (90 degrees) as well as room temp (about 77-78 degrees). 

Always call the studio you are considering taking a class at and ask any questions you have! Knowing your expections and where you are at in your practice will help a teacher direct you to an appropriate class.