Holistic yoga, although not an official type, is more of a lifestyle approach which combines the ideal of holism and the practice of yoga. It focuses on a person's entire routine, rather than the physical practice of yoga alone. The student learns to apply the key concepts of both holism and yoga to his or her daily life, thus creating a lifestyle. Many students of yoga already practice holistic yoga without necessarily realizing it, due to the key principles that yoga teaches practitioners to incorporate into their lives.
Yoga is the Sanskrit word for "union," and it refers to the mind-body connection. The practice is over 5000 years old, and although its original has been placed in India, it is widely practiced. The terms used to describe the types of yoga come from the Hindu Vedas, or spiritual writings. It was developed as means to clean and perfect the body for proper energy transmission.
The main types of yoga are Hatha, Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Iyengar, Kundalini, and Bikram. The "eight limbs" of yoga refer to what body parts and what types of breathing the individual poses are intended for. Yoga poses, or asanas, are combined with individual breathing exercises in order to harmonize the body, and to accelerate the mind-body connection. Traditionally, Western medicine does not focus on the importance of the interrelationship between the mental and the physical.
Proper yoga is to be practiced in a sequence, with the end purpose of meditation and concentration kept in mind. First, the breathing and stretching exercises are perfected. This requires the student to take his or her exterior senses and to draw them inward. Then, the student focuses his or her concentration on an individual item, such as a candle flame. Lastly, and this may take years of steady dedication and practice, the student becomes a master and is able to fully achieve inner peace. This requires one to fully remove himself or herself from the world, and to achieve a feeling of timelessness.
Holism is the idea that the parts of a system do not stand alone, and that they are dependent on the whole. It is a concept that requires looking at the entire system in order to address an individual part's problem, and the effects of one part will affect the system. The lifestyle concept of holism is that the body, overall, is affected by all the parts together.
In holism, each body part and function is believed to have an effect on the entire body. It is important not to do or consume anything that may have a negative impact on one part because it will have a negative impact on the entire body. Yoga, deep breathing, stress management, flexibility, strength, and mental clarity are all intertwined as part of the holistic yoga lifestyle.
Holistic yoga combines the holism ideal with yoga. An individual is encouraged to look at his or her entire state, both mental and physical, in order to address personal issues he or she is having. Most diseases and ailments are believed to be the result of imbalances and can be treated with the holistic yoga approach. Holistic yoga also falls under the umbrella of alternative medicine.