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The growing number of ways to yoga might be baffling for a beginning practitioner. What’s with the mystic names, the heavy Eastern philosophical implications, and experimental styles? But take it for a fact that at the core, all types of yoga are holistic practices to take the body and mind to higher levels of consciousness.
Getting this basic truth cleared up, we can take a glimpse at the variety of yoga styles that evolved till date, the subtle differences in the approaches and what might a dedicated practitioner expect from each individual style.
The Classical Approach with Hatha
Hatha, according to the ancient scriptures is the coming together of the sun and the moon in a being. The union of opposites and the multiples at the core of a being’s existence is understood to be the highest stage of spirituality in yoga and, hatha is the way to achieve that, mostly through exercising the body and mind to a higher level of consciousness.
In modern context, hatha is a style that has to do with anything movement-based in yoga. The basic postures that student of any yoga style learns is actually part of the hatha yogasana corpus. If you choose to take up hatha yoga classes, be ready for a classical approach to the subject with basic asana sequences of which the surya namaskara is notable, an introduction to yogic breathing with pranayama, and an overall slow but steady contemplative pace of practice.
The Vitality Approach with Vinyasa/Power
Ashtanga vinyasa or simply vinyasa yoga is vitality embodied. Unbeatable power with a great degree of challenge is part and parcel of this style. Vinyasa, which literally means “flow” follows a sequence of twisting, gliding, and gyrating postures in a non-stop course.
The vinyasa flow yoga is expected to bathe the participants in sweat, generate a great deal of body heat. The obvious outcomes are—fast loss of weight, core strength building, and enhanced flexibility. However, vinyasa is not every yogi’s cup of tea. You need to be in your best shape and have undulating will to survive through the sequences. The Vinyasa style is also popular in a more aerobics-oriented variation, known as “power yoga”.
The Tranquil Approach with Restorative Yoga
Restorative yoga is potent with a magic touch of calm that any peace seeking yogi would love to experience. The postures of this style are mainly supine and seated, featuring gentle, slow paced twists and flexes. With an orientation to deep relaxation, you can hit the mat for restoration after a power pumped session. Or, time it before sleep for not more than 20 minutes.
Restorative yoga is a good place to use props like blankets, bolsters, and feather pillows. You can also create ambience with sweet incense and calming music. The restorative yoga style facilitates a psychic cleansing, mellowing the mind in way that you come out of the session feeling renewed and full of peace. It often concludes with a nap.
The Sensual Approach with Kundalini
Kundalini yoga philosophy understands energy to be trapped in a silvery coil, like a serpent at the base of spine. The yoga movements in this style are meant to tap the energy source and run it free from the confines. The process of channeling the basal spinal kundalini energy upwards is a sensual process achieved through invigorating postures of the hips.
The Meditative Approach with Kripalu
The Kripalu way of yoga is a pro-body style that orients the practitioner to understand and accept the physical form through extended meditated postures. Allowing the yogi to understand the divinity blooming inside his/her body, the Kripalu style slows movements and encourages meditation at each step.
The list here is far from including all existing yoga styles, but this will give you a good start.
The Author is a passionate yogi and a traveler in India. He loves writing and reading the books related to yoga, health, nature and the Himalayas. His strong connection with Yoga and the Himalayas has made him to organize yoga, meditation and Ayurveda tours and retreats in Himalayas. He also run Yoga school in India and in Nepal. To connect with him, visit his website: https://www.200hrsyogattc.com/
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