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There are a number of different styles of yoga, with many of the varying schools aimed at achieving some form of spiritual, emotional or physical balance. Choosing the right style of yoga may take some time, based on what you want to get from the practice. Here are some examples of yoga, along with the focus that is the ultimate goal of each style of yoga.
In the United States, the practice of Hatha yoga is the most common. Considered by many to be a basic style of yoga that draws on the more simplistic stances of postures that are employed in the various schools of the art, Hatha tends to focus on the stretching and breathing control abilities of the individual. There are still a number of elements that speak to helping people achieve a sense of unity with the spiritual realm as well. As a helpful all around introduction to yoga, Hatha is a great choice.
Ashtanga is a style of yoga that is considered to be more vigorous in nature than Hatha. Often focusing on aerobic sequences of postures, the concept is to harness the body’s natural energy flow and increase stamina. It is understood that Ashtanga helps to eliminate toxins from the system, using the body’s natural cooling system.
Bikram yoga also seeks to clear the body of toxins. Taking place in an environment that is intentionally near body temperature, this style of yoga relies on physical discipline to create the most effective sweating. Sometimes referred to as hot yoga, Bikram was first introduced in 1971.
The Tantra form of yoga is all about expanding the consciousness in order to realize unity with the universe or the Supreme Reality. The idea behind this style of yoga is that all desires are natural and that with unity with the universe, a state of proper management of these desires will be achieved. Tantra yoga is often used as a means of realigning awareness in order to overcome habits that are considered negative or unproductive.
The Iyengar style of yoga is concerned with correct movement and posture, especially in regard to the stances of positions that are used in most yoga practices. Discipline helps to build physical stamina, which in turn helps to cleanse the mind and spirit. The result is that an individual experiences increased physical and mental health.
Kundalini yoga also seeks to unite body, mind, and spirit through the practice of postures. Borrowing the Sanskrit word for coiling, Kundalini stances are intended to place the body in a position where communion between the spiritual and the temporal becomes possible. As a practice to help deal with stress, this style of yoga is very helpful.
Ananda represents a school or style of yoga that seeks to restore Hatha to a pure form, freeing that school from some of the innovations of recent years. Like Hatha, the practice of Ananda is focused on general good health, both mental and physical, and avoids the extremes of some of the more rigid disciplines of yoga. As an excellent physical workout that tends to leave the mind refreshed as well, Ananda is an excellent option.
Determining the best style of yoga for a particular individual depends a great deal on the goals and desires of the person. Fortunately, the various schools of yoga can answer to a number of different approaches, making it possible for persons to try various styles until the right combination is found.
I went to my first Bikram yoga class today! It wasn't as bad as I had expected. I thought I would feel dizzy most of the time and have to take really frequent breaks and that only happened a couple of times. Besides the heat, the yoga class was much less intense than others I have done. I guess the heat intensifies things in its own way.
I did notice that the room was just a little smelly - I guess when people sweat that much, you never quite get the smell out. I drank a lot of water during and after the class. It was really really hot in the room but I definitely felt "cleansed" - and exhausted!
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