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Types of Yoga E-mail
Written by Jeff Behar, MS, MBA   

There are many types, or schools of yoga that have evolved over the centuries. yoga_typesThese different types of yoga evolved as different yogis developed their own philosophies and approaches based on the traditional methods and then taught their own approach to new students, who then passed them on to their own students and disciples.

Some of the many types of Yoga include:  Purna, Ashtanga, Jnana, Bhakti, Bikram, Karma, Raja, Hatha, Kundalini, Mantra, Tantra, Iyengar, Astanga, Vini, Ananda, Anusara, Integral, Kali Ray Tri, Kripalu, Kundalini, and Sivananda.

 

Some of the most popular in the U.S., and the ones you are most likely to find in yoga and fitness centers, are  Astanga (or Ashtanga), Bikram, Hatha, Lyengar, and Kundalini (Kundalini yoga is reported to be more than 5,000 years old, was introduced to the west in 1969 by Yogi Bhajan when he traveled here from India).

 

Ashtanga Yoga

Ashtanga yoga, or power yoga, is an ancient system of yoga taught by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois at the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute in Mysore, India. In the U.S., it is taught as an aggressive workout where you move quickly from one pose to another to build strength and endurance. There is little emphasis on meditation with Ashtanga, and at the end of the session you will feel more like you have completed a traditional weight-training or calisthenic workout than you would with any other type of yoga. Ashtangais more of a physically challenging workout.

Bikram Yoga

Bikram yoga is practiced in a room (sometimes unventilated) heated to about 105 degrees Fahrenheit. The objective is to loosen muscles and to sweat to cleanse the body and remove symptoms of disease and chronic pain. To my knowledge, there hasn't been any research on the safety or efficacy of Bikram, and so I don't recommend it because of the potential risk of dehydration, blood pressure changes, and cardiac problems with exertion in such an inhospitable environment. This is particularly so for individuals who may have an existing heart problem or high blood pressure but don't know it. Bikram has grown in popularity, and some people swear by it. I recommend that you speak with your physician first if you are determined to try it. 


Hatha Yoga

Hatha yoga is the most popular type of yoga taught in the U.S., was developed by Yogi Swatmarama in India in the 15th century. Hatha yoga is the most widely practiced type in the U.S. and is excellent for beginners. It is gentle with slow and smooth movements, and the focus is on holding the poses and integrating your breathing into the movement. It's a great introduction to yoga as it incorporates many different asanas, as well as pranayamas and chanting. Hatha yoga will prepare you for other yoga types that might be taught at your yoga center. Hatha is a great way to stretch, work your muscles, get in touch with your body, relax, and decrease stress.

 

 

 

Lyengar Yoga

Lyengar yoga is a form of yoga that uses poses similar to Hatha, but it focuses more on body alignment and balance, holding poses longer, and using props such as straps, blankets, and blocks. It's also a good choice for beginners.

Kundalini yoga emphasizes rapid movement through the poses and emphasizes breathing, chanting, and meditation. It has a more spiritual feel than Hatha and focuses on energy balance in your body.  

 

 

Kundalini Yoga

 

Kundalini yoga focuses on psycho-spiritual growth and the body's potential for maturation, giving special consideration to the role of the spine and the endocrine system in the understanding of yogic awakening. The practice of kundalini yoga consists of a number of bodily postures, expressive movements and utterances, cultivation of character, breathing patterns, and degrees of concentration. You might find Kundalini physically and mentally challenging if you're a beginner and unfamiliar with yoga poses, chanting, and meditation, and so Hatha or any beginner class is probably a better way to go. 


Yoga Health Benefits

There are many health benefits now positively associated with the regular practice of yoga. These health benefits from yoga includce: : 

  • Improved Posture.  With regular practise yoga helps the spine gets stronger and students notice that it is actually more comfortable to sit and stand straight.
  • Stress Reduction. Yoga's deep breathing exercises brings calming effect that reduces stress.  
  • Alleviates/Improves Depression. Yoga can help improve mood and alleviate depression. In addition to melatonin, the pineal gland also controls the release of serotonin, the "mood" hormone. As certain postures flush the pineal gland with oxygenated blood its function improves and emotional highs and low begin to even out.
  • Reduced Anxiety.  Yoga helps alleviate anxiety.
  • Reduction in Headaches Frequency. Many yoga postures relieve tension and tightness in the neck and shoulder area. As this area relaxes, blood flow increases and headaches often decrease or go away entirely.
  • Blood Pressure Improvement. With regular practice yoga students find that they have lower blood pressure and better cardiovascular health.
  • Reducection  Digestive Problems. Yoga can help improve symptoms from common digestive disorders such as irritable bowel disorder (IBS).
  • Reduces Constipation. Yoga can relax the central nervous system by focusing on breathing increases a process called peristalsis. Peristalsis moves processed food through the digestive system and out of the body. Certain postures increase blood flow to the colon, further aiding the digestive process.
  • Improves Arthritis. Yoga can help alleviate joint stiffnesss and reduced mobiliy of arthritis sufferers.
  • Reduces/Improves Insomnia. Several yoga postures focus on increasing blood flow through the pineal gland where melatonin, the hormone released to induce deep sleep, is released.

About the Author

Jeff Behar
Jeff Behar, MS, MBA
Jeff Behar, MS, MBA is a recognized health, fitness and nutrition expert, regularly writing about hot topics in the areas of health, fitness, weightlifting, nutrition, weight losscancer, disease preventionheart health, alzheimers, anti aging and alternative medicine. Jeff Behar's work appears in several of the major health and fitness newsletters, health and fitness magazines, and on major health, fitness and  weight loss websites, including but not limited to MuscleMagFitness.com, and MyBestHealthPortal.com; two very popular health, fitness, nutrition and anti aging information web sites.

 


 
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