In Sanskrit, yoga literally means “yoke” but is more commonly translated to “union.” In these days where our differences can seem increasingly divisive, yoga knows nothing of race, creed, age, politics, gender or sexual orientation. While yoga helps us to unite our mind, body and spirit, it also reminds us that we all breathe and bleed. It reminds us that we all laugh and grieve. It reminds us that we are all united as one human race and that we are in this together.
Most Common Yoga Styles
Ashtanga Yoga – Originally founded by K. Pattabhi Jois. This dynamic, physically demanding practice synchronizes breath and movement to produce an internal heat designed to purify and strengthen the entire body. Ashtanga yoga, combines many vinyasas with a progressive series of static poses and is practiced with instruction or without, but with an instructor present (Mysore). This is an appropriate practice for those seeking a physically demanding practice OR those thrive on routine, structure and who seek mental discipline and focus.
Hatha – Most forms of yoga in the West can be classified as Hatha Yoga. Hatha simply refers to the practice of physical yoga postures, meaning your Ashtanga, vinyasa; Iyengar and Power Yoga classes are all Hatha Yoga. The word “hatha” can be translated two ways: as “willful” or “forceful,” or the yoga of activity, and as “sun” (ha) and “moon” (tha), the yoga of balance. Hatha practices are designed to align and calm your body, mind, and spirit in preparation for meditation.
Iyengar Yoga – Originally developed by yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar more than 60 years ago, this is still one of the most popular types of yoga taught today. By paying close attention to anatomical details and the alignment of each posture, Iyengar Yoga is the practice of precision. Poses are held for long periods and often modified with props. This method is designed to systematically cultivate strength, flexibility, stability, and awareness, and can be therapeutic for specific conditions.
Kundalini – This practice concentrates on awakening the energy at the base of the spine and drawing it upward through Kriyas. In addition to postures, a typical class will also include chanting, meditation, and breathing exercises. An uplifting blend of spiritual and physical practices, Kundalini Yoga incorporates movement, dynamic breathing techniques, meditation, and the chanting of mantras, such as Sat Nam, meaning, "truth is my identity." The goal is to build physical vitality and increase consciousness.
Power Yoga – Power Yoga is a fitness-based vinyasa practice. An offshoot of Ashtanga Yoga, it has many of the same qualities and benefits, including building internal heat, increased stamina, strength, and flexibility, as well as stress reduction. Teachers design their own sequences, while students synchronize their breath with their movement. The original Power Yoga was developed and founded by Beryl Bender Birch, but is now a term used to describe many vigorous vinyasa styles.
Restorative Yoga – A restorative yoga sequence typically involves only five or six poses, supported by props that allow you to completely relax and rest. Held for 5 minutes or more, restorative poses include light twists, seated forward folds, and gentle backbends. Most restorative practices are based on the teachings of B.K.S. Iyengar. This is a great addition to any practice or a perfect practice for anyone with chronic health conditions or mental health concerns.
Sivananda Yoga – Based on the teachings of Swami Sivananda, this style is a form of hatha yoga in which the training focuses on preserving the health and wellness of the practitioner, by retaining the vitality of the body and decrease chance of disease. The system philosophies are summarized in 5 principles: Proper Exercise, Proper Breathing, Proper Relaxation, Proper Diet and Positive Thinking and Meditation.
Vinyasa – Unites breath and movement by emphasizing one breath for each movement. The word “vinyasa” can be translated as “arranging something in a special way,” like yoga poses for example. In vinyasa yoga classes, students coordinate movement with breath to flow from one pose to the next. Ashtanga, Jivamukti, Power Yoga, and Prana Flow could all be considered vinyasa yoga. Vinyasa is also the term used to describe a pecific equence of poses (Chaturanga to Upward-Facing Dog to Downward-Facing Dog) commonly used throughout a vinyasa class.
Yin Yoga – Originally introduced by Paulie Zink, Yin has been become known as yoga for the joints, not the muscles. This practice is designed to help you sit longer, and more comfortably, in meditation by stretching connective tissue around the joints (mainly the knees, pelvis, sacrum, and spine). A passive practice, Yin Yoga involves variations of seated and supine poses typically held for 3 to 5 minutes, accessing deeper layers of fascia. While initially this may seem boring, or "soft," it can be quite challenging and therapeutic. Not only is Yin a wonderful compliment to the “Yang” styles we tend to practice, it’s also a great style for many chronic physical and emotional conditions.