An Introduction To Yoga
Anyone who is familiar with fitness is aware of a common practice called yoga. But do you know the benefits and is it a routine you're willing to introduce into your life?
Yoga is defined as "a Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which, including breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practiced for health and relaxation" as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary. There's not a major city in the world that doesn't have a handful of yoga studios. It's one of the oldest forms of natural and holistic practices to date. It's also proven to improve mobility, posture correction, and decreasing stress levels. There are many different styles of yoga and if you're a beginner, it can be a bit confusing.
Kristin McGee is a certified ACE personal trainer, trusted wellness expert, and celebrity yoga pilates instructor. In her article for mindbodygreen.com, she broke down 11 of the most popular types of yoga. This included:
1) Hatha Yoga: The practice of physical postures and breathing.
2) Iyengar Yoga: The alignment and precise movements.
3) Kundalini Yoga: A focus on releasing energy in the lower spine.
4) Ashtanga Yoga: Links breath to movement.
5) Vinyasa Yoga: Vinyasa meaning, "to place" where you string postures together from one to another using breathe. It's also commonly referenced as "flow yoga."
6) Bikram aka "Hot" Yoga: Follows a specific sequence of set poses in a sauna-like environment with the temperature set to 105 degrees and 40% humidity. The practice comes with controversy as founder Bikram Choudhury was featured in the 2019 Netflix documentary: Yoga, Guru, Predator, amid sexual harassment allegations. Many studios that practiced this type now reference it as "Hot Yoga".
7) Yin Yoga: A slow-paced style of yoga with positions held for longer periods of time.
8) Restorative Yoga: A focus of body relations. Meant to cleanse the body and free the mind.
9) Prenatal Yoga: Tailored towards pregnant women during all trimesters. A focus on pelvic floor work, breathing, and bonding with the baby.
10) Anusara Yoga: Modern-day Hatha yoga with a focus of the mind, body, and heart.
11) Jivamukti Yoga: Focuses on a "path to enlightenment" while gaining a meaningful connection to the Earth. This ideology tends to be tailored towards a vegetarian philosophy.
In our latest podcast episode, I spoke with Anne Taylor a certified yoga instructor from New York City. She explained that "Hatha Yoga" is "anything pertaining to the body." With Hatha being at the forefront, there are subsidiary branches such as Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Hot Yoga including the eleven others listed above. When seeking a specific need, Taylor equates it as "going to a therapist", where you're seeking a specific branch to address a specific need. We also discussed the importance of meditation and techniques for clearing the mind. She equated channeling your focus to running a marathon. She stated, "you don't go to the extreme end, you go simply." So you would start out scanning your body and focusing on breathing for a short period and building off that.
When I was introduced to yoga it was a bit overwhelming, especially learning about the different types. When embarking on this journey you have to ask yourself, "What do I need to address and what can I gain?" During our episode, Taylor also suggested starting with the basics, then seeking out a specialized yoga instructor for an area of focus. Also, small classes are ideal because it guarantees you're getting the attention that you're paying for. With most of the world self-quarantining right now, there are a lot of online resources when it comes to yoga. There are tons of free videos on YouTube and many instructors are hosting live online classes. When you're confident enough, you can seek out a specialized yoga instructor and give your body the attention that it deserves.
Parts of this article were sourced. Please follow and click the cited sources link below for more information.
Anne Taylor @aka_wasabicupcake_nyc
By: Jay Denson