By Get Lifted
If you have decided to make practicing yoga your New Year’s resolution, here is a break down of how yoga has evolved over the last 5,000 years and how to decide which yoga may best fit you as an experienced yogi getting back into the groove of things or a complete beginner.
If you find a type of yoga that fits you, feel free to stick with it. However, if your first class is not a success, continue to explore for there are many forms of yoga that have been developed for the modern day yoga practitioner. Although the different yoga systems may have a different approach on alignment, strength, flexibility and breath control, one similarity you will find in yoga classes across the world is that each path of yoga provides a powerful guide for refining the possibilities for integrating mind, body, and spirit.
The basic roots of all yoga lies within the most ancient forms of the yoga practice (Asana Yoga, Raja Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Laya Yoga, Mantra Yoga, Tantra Yoga). All of the following modern day yoga classes were born in some way or another from these original roots. Here is a simple explanation of the modern day names of yoga classes to make breaking down a yoga schedule a lot easier.
- Swasthya Yoga or DeRose Method: Professor DeRose is of Brazilian decent and studied in India for over 26 years. The DeRose Method (also known as SwaSthya Yoga) incorporates concepts and techniques originated from ancient cultural traditions including the elements of the 8 most ancient forms of Yoga (listed above); consisting of techniques for breathing re-education, strengthening of the biological structure, and stress management. Hundreds of DeRose Method schools and thousands of instructors currently teach this method in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Portugal, Spain, France, England, Scotland, Germany, Italy, Hawaii, Indonesia, Canada, New York and Australia.
- Hatha Yoga: Traditional hatha yoga is a holistic yogic path, including disciplines, physical postures (asana), purification procedures (shatkriya), poses (mudra), breathing (pranayama), and meditation. The hatha yoga predominantly practiced in the West consists of mostly asanas understood as physical exercises. It is also recognized as a stress-reducing practice.
- Iyengar Yoga: created by B. K. S. Iyengar, is a form of Hatha Yoga known for its use of props, such as belts, blocks, and blankets, as aids in performing asanas (postures). The props enable students to perform the asanas correctly, minimizing the risk of injury or strain, and making the postures accessible to both young and old. The development of strength, mobility and stability are emphasized through the asanas. Iyengar Yoga is firmly on the traditional eight limbs of yoga as expounded by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras.
- Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga or Ashtanga Yoga: Most Vinyasa yoga classes are based in the Ashtanga Yoga principles, with a focus on alignment of movement and breath, a method which turns static yoga postures into a dynamic flow. The length of one inhale or one exhale dictates the length of time spent transitioning between postures. Poses are then held for a predefined number of breaths. In effect, attention is placed on the breath and the journey between the postures rather than solely on achieving perfect body alignment in a pose, as is emphasized in hatha yoga. Daily or regular practice is highly emphasized in Ashtanga Yoga. Newcomers to Ashtanga Yoga practice the primary series, after learning the standing sequence. Be sure to check levels for these classes because depending on the teacher, they can be intense. Ashtanga Yoga is traditionally taught in Mysore style (supervised self practice, named after the city in India where Ashtanga originates), where each student moves through the practice at his or her own pace and level. Power yoga is a term that may refer to any type of vigorous yoga exercise derived from Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga.
- Viniyoga: The term viniyoga has been used by T. K. V. Desikachar to describe his approach to utilizing the tools of yoga, in particular his conviction that yoga practice should be adapted to fit the individuality and particular situation of each practitioner.
- Kundalini Yoga: A physical, mental and spiritual discipline for developing strength, awareness, character, and consciousness. Considered an advanced form of yoga and meditation, its purpose is to cultivate the creative spiritual potential of a human to uphold values, speak truth, and focus on the compassion and consciousness needed to serve and heal others. Kundalini Yoga classes may be a little different than what you will typically expect from a yoga class.
- Bikram Yoga: A system of yoga that Bikram Choudhury synthesized from traditional hatha yoga techniques and popularized beginning in the early 1970s. Bikram’s classes run exactly 90 minutes and consist of a set series of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises. Bikram Yoga is ideally practiced in a room heated to 105°F (40.6°C) with a humidity of 40%.
- Anusara Yoga: a modern school of Hatha Yoga started by American-born yoga teacher John Friend in 1997. Friend derived his style from the Iyengar style of yoga and reintroduced elements of Hindu spirituality (specifically derived from Siddha Yoga) into a more health-oriented Western approach to Yoga. Anusara Yoga is based on the 3 A’s: Attitude, Alignment and Action, according to Friend, is the “natural flow of energy in the body, which provides both stability and joyful freedom.”
- Forrest Yoga: A Hatha Yoga created by American Ana T. Forrest. Forrest Yoga is known for “its long holding of positions, emphasis on abdominal core work, and standing series that can go on for 20 poses on each side. Ana Forrest derived her practice from some aspects of Sivananda Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, and Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga.
- Jivamukti Yoga: The Jivamukti Yoga method is a proprietary style of yoga created by David Life and Sharon Gannon in 1984. Integrating physical, ethical, and spiritual components, the method combines a vigorous, vinyasa form of hatha yoga with adherence to five central tenets: shastra (scripture), bhakti (devotion), ahimsa (non-harming), nāda (music), and dhyana (meditation).
- Sivananda Yoga: Follows the teachings of Swami Sivananda, is a non-proprietary form of Hatha Yoga. A session of training typically starts with every practitioner resting in Savasana (corpse pose), and begin with Kapalabhati and Anuloma Viloma (types of pranayama), preceding rounds of Sūrya namaskāra (sun salutations), before the standard program of the 12 basic asanas. A session averages 90 minutes, and the traditional program may be followed flexibly by the instructor, allowing for some variation.
You may find other names of yoga styles not covered above, but these are the most common yoga practices found in our modern day yoga community. Search for the Chicago Yoga Studio near you by using our zip code search on the Chicago Yoga Studio Directory.
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