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Posts Tagged ‘Yoga’

Power Yoga Benefits

Monday, July 6th, 2009

Power yoga is a form of yoga that is based on a choreographed sequence of poses known as asana during which process, the joints in the body unwind, muscles get relaxed and the energy gets moved. When a person performs power yoga, he tends to build strength and flexibility and is able to focus better and consequently the tension in the mind and body is released.

Ashtanga yoga is a rigorous form of yoga that is practiced in the eastern part of the globe and hence Beryl Bender Birch and Bryan Kest of the United States have developed a new form of yoga called the power yoga which is performed more rapidly and subtly, where it is possible to easily switch over from seating positions to sun salutations and head stands.

Power yoga classes do not follow a specific sequence and are choreographed and developed by the teacher. The main objective of power yoga is to offer a lot of stretching practices and a good aerobic workout. Also, the duration of power yoga is lesser as against ashtanga yoga which may last for one and a half hours. Power yoga lays emphasis on physical benefits like weight loss and better conditioning of the muscles and general strength of the body without giving more stress on the spiritual or meditative aspects of yoga.

However, in a power yoga class, five to ten minutes may be set apart for meditation. Power yoga is begun with three to six sun salutations that warms up the body and prepare for deeper poses and concludes with at least five minutes of meditation, commonly in corpse pose or a seated pose. This is the most important part of power yoga practice that enables to incorporate all the subtle changes made during the practice.

Basically, power yoga follows a particular sequence like sun salutation, warrior pose, balancing pose and then the triangle pose. Then come the floor practices and the seated postures and finally the savasana or meditation. Although, yoga series ought to be performed in a particular order for each routine, power yoga allows a person to either skip the entire series or focus on particular physical or emotional needs. Such is the flexibility of power yoga.

The benefits of power yoga are innumerable. Apart from being a great form of exercise for everyone, it improves joint movement, increases muscle strength, promotes stamina, maintains good posture, and ultimately warms the body. But the most obvious and ultimate benefit of power yoga is its ability in focusing mentally and improving concentration and to help to find the inner strength of everyone and relieve the stress because power yoga helps to alleviate mental stress and thus relieve aches and pains in the body caused due to muscle stress and tension.

The Different Styles of Yoga

Friday, April 17th, 2009

There are many different styles of yoga being taught and practiced today. Although all of the styles are based on the same physical postures (called Asana’s), each has a particular emphasis or path. Here is a quick guide to the most popular types of yoga that can help you decide which style is right for you.

Hatha Yoga

Hatha is a very general term that can encompass many of the physical types of yoga. If a class is described as Hatha style, it is probably going to be slow-paced and gentle and provide a good introduction to the basic yoga postures. Highly recommended as a standard experience in the basics of yoga. This is a good place to learn basic poses, relaxation techniques, and become comfortable with yoga.

Vinyasa Yoga

Like Hatha, Vinyasa is a general term that is used to describe many different types of classes. Vinyasa, which means breath-synchronized movement, tends to be a more vigorous style based on the performance of a series of postures called Sun Salutations, in which movement is matched to the breath. A Vinyasa class will typically start with a number of Sun Salutations to warm up the body for more intense stretching that’s done at the end of class.

Ashtanga or Power Yoga

Ashtanga, which means “eight limbs” in Sanskrit, is a fast-paced, intense style of yoga. A set series of postures are performed, always in the same order. Ashtanga Yoga is very physically demanding because of the constant movement from one pose to the next. In yoga terminology, this movement is called flow. Ashtanga is also the inspiration for what is often called Power Yoga. If a class is described as Power Yoga, it will be based on the flowing style of Ashtanga, but not necessarily keep strictly to the set Ashtanga series of poses.

Iyengar Yoga

Based on the teachings of the yogi B.K.S Iyengar, this style of practice is most concerned with bodily alignment. In yoga, the word alignment is used to describe the precise way in which your body should be positioned in each pose in order to obtain the maximum benefits and avoid injury. Iyengar Yoga usually emphasises holding poses over long periods versus moving quickly from one pose to the next (flow). Also, Iyengar practice encourages the use of props, such as yoga blankets, blocks and straps, in order to bring the body into the most perfect alignment.

Kundalini Yoga

Yogi Bhajan brought Kundalini Yoga to the US in 1969. Now the practice is world wide and growing. The emphasis in Kundalini Yoga is on the breath, internal concentration, mantra (words or sounds) in conjunction with physical movement, with the purpose of freeing energy within the body and allowing it to move upwards. All asana practices make use of controlling the breath. But in Kundalini, the exploration of the effects of the breath (also called prana, meaning life force energy) on the postures is essential. Kundalini uses rapid, repetitive movements rather than poses held for a long time.

Bikram or Hot Yoga

Pioneered by Bikram Choudhury, this style is more generally referred to as Hot Yoga. It is practiced in a 95 to 100 degree room, which allows for a loosening of tight muscles and profuse sweating, which is thought to be cleansing. The Bikram method is a set series of 26 poses, but not all hot classes make use of this series.

Anusara Yoga

Founded in 1997 by John Friend, Anusara combines a strong emphasis on physical alignment with a positive philosophy derived from Tantra. The philosophy’s premise is belief in the intrinsic goodness of all beings. Anusara classes are usually light-hearted and accessible to students of differing abilities. Poses are taught in a way that opens the heart, both physically and mentally, and props are often used.

Jivamukti Yoga

This style of yoga emerged from one of New York’s best-known yoga studios. Jivamukti founders David Life and Sharon Gannon take inspiration from Ashtanga yoga and emphasise chanting, meditation, and spiritual teachings. They have trained many teachers who have brought this style of yoga to studios and gyms, predominantly in the U.S. These classes are physically intense and often include some chanting.

Forrest Yoga

Headquartered in Santa Monica, California, and gaining popularity around the U.S., Forrest Yoga is the method taught by Ana Forrest. The performance of vigorous asana sequences is intended to strengthen and purify the body and release pent-up emotions and pain so that healing can begin. Expect an intense workout with an emphasis on abdominal strengthening and deep breathing.

Kripalu Yoga

The name Kripalu is associated both with a style of hatha yoga and a yoga and wellness centre in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Both were founded by yoga guru Amrit Desai, who came to the United States from India in 1960. Kripalu is a yoga practice with a compassionate approach and emphasis on meditation, physical healing and spiritual transformation that overflows into daily life. Kripalu also focuses on looking inward and moving at your own pace.

Integral Yoga

Integral yoga follows the teachings of Sri Swami Sachidananda, who came to the U.S. in the 1960s and eventually founded many Integral Yoga Institutes and the famed Yogaville Ashram in Virginia. Integral is a gentle hatha practice, and classes often also include breathing exercises, chanting, kriyas, and meditation.

Sivananda Yoga

Swami Vishnu-devananda, a disciple of Swami Sivananda, founded the first Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre in 1957. There are now close to 80 locations worldwide, including several ashram retreats. Sivananda yoga is based upon five principles:

1. Proper exercise (Asana, focusing on 12 poses in particular)
2. Proper breathing (Pranayama)
3. Proper relaxation (Savasana)
4. Proper diet (Vegetarian)
5. Positive thinking and meditation (Dhyana)

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