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|Types of Yoga|
|Written by Jeff Behar, MS, MBA|
There are many types, or schools of yoga that have evolved over the centuries. These 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, 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 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 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 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.
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