Despite the contemporary twist to the original way of practicing yoga, there are some forms that have kept the soul and base of yoga intact.
The art of yoga has been made versatile at the hands of several yogis, to suit different ideologies, concepts and demands of the practitioners. In the process, customisation of yoga has given birth to new names and styles, which seems to have created confusion in the minds of amateur yoga practitioners.
It has become seemingly difficult to choose a form that suits one’s fitness level & solves the purposes behind choosing the asana practice. We have put together some styles of yoga, which are widely recognized and performed. This will help our readers choose the best style for themselves.
One of the most popular styles, Ashtanga yoga is a fast paced, dynamic version created to build a flow of movement, breath, gaze and internal locks in a practitioner’s body. Focused on removing blockages, this advance practice of asanas requires dedication & strength. Often juxtaposed to power yoga, Ashtnaga yoga is not for those looking for a restorative practice, instead it is for those, who like to leave the studio in drenched clothing & with sore muscles. The intense practice creates heat, which transform the body, removes toxins, reduces fat and increases stamina.
Hatha yoga is often referred to as the mother of all forms or mother trunk. This practice consists of 84,00,000 asanas and almost all other versions emerged from Hatha Yoga. Just like a mother, Hatha yoga is benevolent, but when practiced with dedication, it can be intense. Unlike Ashtanga yoga, it is slow paced with deeper holds and is great for beginners. This reforming practice starts from the basic and gradually builds up a firm base. A Hatha yoga practitioner can gradually perform any other style of yoga in no time. It comprises of pranayama (breath work), dhayana (mental work), shat kriyas (six cleaning techniques) and asanas (body movements).
The yoga of awareness & awakening, Kundalini yoga is designed to raise human consciousness. An ideal class of Kundalini yoga can vary from intense to restorative practice. Good for beginner or an intermediate practitioner, the asana, pranayama and dhayana are performed collectively with no set pattern to create the desired effect. The classes are usually themed and could include mini meditations, chakra cleansing, chakra activation, body opening poses. One of the Kundalini yoga classes I attended recently required us to perform the meditation for 11 minutes (holding hands parallel to the floor & concentrating on the heart chakra) followed by a downward dog hold for 11 minutes. Intense, isn’t it?
Created by Bikram Choudhaury, Bikram Yoga is like Hot yoga, where the room is heated at 105°F or 40°C and the practitioner is required to perform 26 standing postures followed 26 floor postures in 90 minutes. The asana ranges from easy to intermediate & the practice is focused on building a fit body with the help of body heat. When the body sweats generously, the joints & muscles become supple & the postures become rather easy to perform. The series remains the same and does not offer much scope of variation.
A perfect style for beginners, Iyenger yoga uses props like bolsters, belts, blocks and other posture modifications to achieve perfect alignment in the body. Creating a firm base, if Iyenger yoga teaching is received from a good teacher, the practitioner can expect to achieve proper form & alignment in the postures. Introduced by the proclaimed yogi B.K.S. Iyenger, the practice involves postures from Hatha Yoga & can be taken up by both young & old alike.
Founded by Swami Vishnu Devanada in 1957, Sivananda yoga is based on the teachings of Swami Sivananda. The practice consists majorly 12 postures of beginner to intermediate level practitioners with meditation, breath work and mantras. This style of yoga sides with proper functioning of the body with a balanced mind & a healthy vegetarian diet.
Some of the other forms of yoga are: Yin Yoga, Jivamukti Yoga, Lila Yoga, Prana Yoga, Prenatal yoga etc.
If you are still confused, try one or two classes of each form that resonate with you, to figure out the most suitable style.