In today’s fast-paced world, it is not uncommon to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily life, leaving one with no time or energy to exercise. Add to that the city’s rising pollution levels coupled with an erratic lifestyle, and you might have just cut off five years of your life. Yoga is a great way to counteract these issues, permitting one to lead a healthy and fulfilling life. Yoga is an ancient Indian practice that involves a holistic approach to relaxing the mind and body through the use of different postures (asanas), pranayamas or breathing techniques and mental visualisation. Yoga, whose all-round benefits are increasingly being accepted the world over, has now been found useful in treating mental disorders too. There are various types of yoga that cater to each individual’s needs.
The least strenuous of the lot, but the most widely-practiced form of yoga, Hatha yoga is perfect for everyone and is extremely beneficial on all levels. The focus of Hatha yoga is the breath. Practitioners focus on inhaling and exhaling, controlling each breath as they move into each of the asanas. A great sense of well-being, clarity of thought, relaxation and awareness are the mental benefits that follow just a single Hatha yoga class since meditation plays a major part. The physical benefits include increased strength, flexibility, breathing to the fullest capacity and increased immunity.
In Sanskrit, Ashtanga transalates as the eight limbs of yoga as stated in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. This type of yoga is also referred to as Ashtanga Vinayasa yoga or Power yoga. A session begins with sun salutation, commonly known as Surya Namaskar and then moves on to the practice of some of the 75 different asanas that include standing and seated poses. Since Ashtanga yoga comprises a vast variety of postures, there is no chance that one can ever get bored during each session, as no two classes are likely to be the same. A session includes rapid movement from one pose to the next with each inhale and exhale. This kind of yoga is good if you are looking to work on strength building and weight loss. Regular practice really helps to speed up your metabolism, resulting in more calories burnt.
Apart from offering a blissful body, mind and soul experience, this kind of yoga offers a good deal of physical benefits. It is meant for seasoned yoga practitioners or for people who are in excellent physical condition. The focus of Bikram yoga is on using heat to intensify the yoga session and is practiced in a closed and heated room. Even though practicing a few of the 26 different Bikram yoga poses may seem like a breeze, be prepared to practice yoga in 1050 F and 40 per cent humidity! Perfect for those who wish to lose weight, the regular practice of Bikram yoga ensures that you burn 350 to 600 calories per class. Plus, you’ll build up your stamina, increase your flexibility and at the same time release built-up toxins due to the excessive sweating that naturally occurs under such conditions. Word has it that Bikram Yoga is a favourite with celebrities all over the world including Madonna and Jennifer Aniston!
The focus of Iyengar yoga is on the use of yoga props that help practitioners stretch their muscles over time, greatly increasing their flexibility. Props include a chair, block and elastic exercise strap. This kind of yoga is ideal if you really wish to tone your muscles and strengthen your joints. It covers the most basic yoga asanas too and simultaneously places a great deal of importance on breathing. Thus, if you are looking to work on your inner awareness and meditative techniques, and simultaneously get a physical workout, then opt for this yoga form.
Kundalini refers to the energy concentrated at the root chakra, located at the base of the spine. Through regular practice, the concentrated energy is awakened and channeled upward throughout the body. This type of yoga is more than just a workout. The main principal of Kundalini yoga is to unleash the unlimited potential that lies within that energy center by freeing up the root chakra. You can expect a lot of seated postures and deep-breathing techniques during a Kundalini yoga session, as you will be doing much core work on your abs and the area around your spine. There are a number of invigorating poses too, and when practiced regularly in tandem with the right breathing exercises, you will enjoy greater spiritual as well as mind and body awareness.
This type of yoga comprises 12 basic asanas and their variations that begin with sun salutation (Surya Namaskar) and end with the corpse pose (Savasana). It is typically very unhurried and the main aim is to perfect each posture and become more aware of bodily movements and breathing techniques. This form of yoga also encompasses relaxation, diet and positive thinking, in addition to exercise and proper breathing. You can expect a lot of chanting and meditation in such a class. Opt for Sivananda yoga if you are keen to boost your vitality, prevent disease and restore your flexibility.
Passion yoga is a part of Tantra yoga and aims to bring back the lost passion of living one’s life. When a set combination of asanas are performed, the body releases heat, which in turn promotes sweating, ridding the body of toxins, says Shiv Kumar Mishra, Founder, Shiv Holistic Yoga and conceptualiser of this branch of yoga. The body also tends to get more flexible when warmed up. Besides burning fat, one’s metabolism speeds up. It has also been noticed that willpower, self-control and concentration is greatly increased, while accumulated stress simply melts away.
The word kriya means ‘to move’ in Sanskrit. Kriya yoga involves the movement of your attention along certain energy pathways within the body. This defined energy movement is designed to deepen one’s concentration, leading to heightened awareness. Practiced for thousands of years, it was developed by yogis with advanced spiritual knowledge. Much older than Hatha yoga, Kriya yoga has only been passed from teacher to student.The technique covers a number of intense breathing exercises. Practitioners follow the laws of general conduct such as doing no harm, being truthful and respecting others. Kriya yoga is said to induce a number of physical benefits like flexibility of muscles and the spine as well as improved breathing capacity. Spiritually, Kriya yoga aims to increase the level of compassion. Practitioners are said to experience a renewed understanding of life’s purpose. Enroll yourself in a yoga class in your locality and feel the transformation of your being as it quiets your mind and gives you that much-needed breath of life!
Bikram – Perfect for those who love a good workout, but are bored by the monotony of a gym workout
Hatha – Suitable for everyone, including yoga newbies, non-exercisers, pregnant women, inflexible people and seniors
Iyengar – Apt for perfectionists, people in need of physical therapy and those who like a methodical yoga practice
Ashtanga – Perfect for those who like a vigorous and athletic style of yoga
Kundalini – If you wish to tap your inner potential and if chanting is your thing!
Kriya – Anyone who wishes to reach a state of self-awareness
Passion – If you really want to reclaim the lost passion for life
Sivananda – Anyone who wants an all-round, holistic experience for the body, mind and soul
Volume 1 Issue 6