Thursday, December 16, 2010

Yoga for Everyone!

Recently, while on a run with miss Annie, we were discussing the different practices of Yoga. As someone that has love/hate relationship with Bikram, I am always inspired by Annie's dedication to her own practice. Unlike those of us who have jumped on the Hot Yoga bandwagon, my dear Annie hates the heat and much prefers her "warm but not hot" version. We were trying to figure out which style of yoga she practices; it sounds like it's super challenging and full of mastering intricate poses. My guess was that it fell under Ashtanga but she wasn't sure.
I know most people could really care less, but get two semi obsessive personalities together and we were determined to learn more.
Fast forward to today - I was perusing one of my very favorite sites, Lululemon in search of things I really should probably own when I came across their education page. Low and behold, the answers were there! So this post is mostly for Annie, but I thought others may want to learn a bit about the differences in Yoga land as well.. if not.. well too bad.

Expect a playful class with a strong focus on proper alignment and Tantric yoga philosophy (not what you're thinking). It (like most yoga) is derived from Hatha yoga.
This practice is very athletic and made up of six vigorous series of postures. It's one of the oldest forms of yoga and is considered to be the foundation of much of the yoga we see today in the west.
You're going to sweat in a Bikram's class, more than you ever thought was possible. Bikram yoga consists of 26 postures and breathing exercises repeated twice (that's right 90 minutes) in a room heated to 105 degrees. Heads up - humidity is 40% and will knock you over the first time.
The foundation of every style of yoga mentioned here. Traditional Hatha yoga is a holistic path that includes disciplines, physical postures (asana), purification procedures, breathing (pranayama), and meditation. Hatha practiced in the West consists of mostly physical postures and is also recognized as a gentle introductory yoga for people new to yoga.
By adding heat it is said that classes will help you lose weight, loosen your muscles (by adding increased range of motion) and improve your cardiovascular system. It differs from Bikram's in that the series of postures are not always (but can be) in any particular order and modifications are often offered.
Expect a class emphasizing healing the body and mind through use of supported postures. One of the oldest forms of yoga, it's for a person who loves technical intricacies and is also great for people who are new to yoga or have any issues with their health.
Don't be surprised if your waving your hands like you just don't care or laughing uncontrollably (it's a type of meditation- I swear), this practice is intended to wake up the kundalini energy coiled at the base of your spine while activating chakras (energetic centers in the body), as well as detoxing the body and mind.
Many say Power yoga is the Western interpretation of Ashtanga. It is sometimes done in a heated room and focuses on the breath as fuel for the practice. This practice can be challenging for beginners, but is a nice balance to more gentle forms of yoga once you become comfortable with the different postures.
Derived from Ashtanga yoga, expect a class full of rhythmical flow (often combined with music) connecting each moment with unifying pranayama (breath). Classes can be more meditative or focused on the natural movement of the body, almost like dancing through postures. A great transition from Hatha when you're looking for more of a challenge.
Some believe that Yin yoga is the oldest form of Hatha yoga, since it is the ideal method of physical conditioning for prolonged meditation. Don't let the props and gentle movement fool you, this is not a form of restorative yoga. The long holds require that you focus and release all effort from the muscles.

Which practice is your favorite??

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