I think I’ve heard every reason in the book as to why yoga is not for someone. I’m too old, I’m too stiff, I’m not in shape, I’m not spiritual, I’m too energetic, I can’t shut off my mind, and so on. I could go on for an hour I’m sure of it. I was there once too.
I use to say “I tried yoga a few times a long time ago. I giggled my way through savasana and it was way too slow for me.” Unfortunately, I gave up way too soon and really didn’t know any better.
I had no idea yoga had so many styles. Thankfully, a good friend of mine reintroduced me to the practice a few years back.
I absolutely love this pictogram/flowchart put out by myyogatrail.com. It’s fun and can be somewhat amusing to go through. Start at the middle and find the yoga that’s right for you. Although this chart is not all encompassing it gives you a good idea of what’s out there.
New styles of yoga are being invented all the time. Yoga with weights, yoga for athletes, yoga for kids, yoga for depression, yoga for larger bodies, yoga for our military warriors, prenatal, yin, and the list goes on. Let’s take a look at some of these styles and what they’re all about. Remember, hatha yoga is often referred to as a type of yoga class, but all western physical yoga are pretty much derived from hatha. Often times classes referred to as “hatha” are more basic classes with slower movement.
I’ll be honest with you here. I haven’t practiced all of these styles. Most people find a few styles that work for them and stick to them. I enjoy vinyasa, some power, the occasional yoga class, and sometimes mix in some yin, and restorative sessions.
Vinyasa means the connection of poses. Typically poses are connected to the breath and poses flow fluidly, almost like a dance. Moving through a vinyasa class provides a very nice slow, hence the name “vinyasa flow”. The pace of this class can be slow or slighter more upbeat depending on the teacher. Vinyasa yoga finds it’s origins in ashtanga yoga.
Power yoga, in our western world, is a vigorous fitness based style of yoga. It resembles vinyasa flow, but is much more physically challenging. It also finds it’s origins in ashtanga yoga. One big difference that power and vinyasa have in comparison to ashtanga is that they are not boxed into the defined series of yoga poses.
Ashtanga yoga originates from an ancient yoga text called the Yoga Korunta. This text reportedly listed groupings of asanas to be performed. There are 6 series or groupings of yoga postures in ashtanga which are based on this text. In mysore style ashtanga classes, all students practice as a group, but everyone is going at the pace of their own breath. So, even though everyone may be practicing sequence number 1, everyone appears to be doing something different.
Hot yoga refers to a yoga practice performed in a very hot and humid environment. Classrooms are designed specifically for this purpose. Bikram and Moksha are two styles of hot yoga, but essentially any yoga style could be practiced in a hot environment. Hot yoga is HOT. I practice it occasionally at the local Moksha studio, more specifically in our very cold winter months.
Kundalini is untapped energy at the base of the spine that can be drawn up through the body, awakening each of the seven energy centers. Kundalini yoga is also referred to as the Yoga of Awareness. The primary objective is to awaken the full potential of human awareness in each individual. It is likely one of the more spiritual practices that I’m mentioning here. The practice includes mantras, meditation, and the physical practice.
Restorative yoga, so aptly named, helps restore the body and mind into balance. It’s a gentle practice that goes at a slower pace and often involves holding poses for longer periods of time. Props such as blankets, bolsters, and blocks can often be used to assist in finding comfort in the poses and providing a space for the practitioner to just let go. People that practice restorative yoga can hope to find a deeply relaxed state of mind and body and a place to get away from everyday stressors.
Yoga for Athletes
Yoga for athletes shouldn’t be confused with an athletic style of yoga. On the contrary, yoga for athletes is designed to balance out an athlete’s training regime. For example, a runner will develop very tight quads, hamstrings, and hip flexors. These tight spots can eventually impede on the athlete’s performance and even lead to injury. A well rounded yoga for runners program would work on adding flexibility to those tight spots and perhaps strengthening other areas of the body that are not used while running. More and more athletes are turning to yoga as a means of balance in their training. Yoga also provides another aspect which is highly beneficial to athletes and that is focus. During a yoga practice, we almost always have a single pointed focus and this is the mindset that athletes strive for. Meditation and breathing techniques can also help in stressful situations and to clear the mind and focus on what is important.
Yoga for Balancing Mood and Yoga for Trauma
The science behind yoga is coming to the forefront more prominently these days. It is proven that incorporating yoga in the healing process for mood disorders such as depression and anxiety, as well as for cases of trauma such as PTSD is very useful. International organizations such as the International Association of Yoga Therapists exists for this reason and yoga therapy programs that are approved by them are popping up more frequently. I am personally enrolled in the 1000-Hr Therapeutic Yoga program with YogaFit, an intense and well rounded program that is completed in a 3 to 7 year period. I will be participating in the YogaFit for Warriors and YogaFit for Balancing Moods training this fall.
And There’s More
The styles that I’ve listed here are but a handful of the ever emerging yoga styles out there. Some schools of thought think that yoga should remain as is. Personally, I believe that there can never be enough yoga. I believe there should be a yoga for every mind and body out there. The essence of yoga is love, and this world can always use a little bit more of that don’t you agree?
What About You?
Have you practiced yoga before? If not, which style do you think would suit your body and personality type? If you have practiced, what styles have you tried, given up on, or keep practicing today. I’d love to hear from you. Leave some comments below. Do you know someone that thinks yoga is not for them? If so, make sure to share this with them.