This September, Glen Ivy Hot Springs is supporting and joining in the festivities of National Yoga Month. Yoga and the Hot Springs seem to be a natural pairing; both have been resources for wellness of body, mind and spirit for centuries gone by, and both pair health and well being with a good measure of fun. Each also carries an air of mystery to those who haven’t taken the time to experience them. I can recall as a child growing up in the early 1970’s my first exposure to yoga. My mother used to watch and practice hatha yoga with Lillias on PBS. At that time, yoga was new to the western world; very few had heard of an asana or been introduced to a form of exercise that focused on the mind as much as the body. We have come a long way since that time, and it is rare to hear of any yoga class classified under the general term “hatha yoga.” Hatha practice actually refers to the physical practice of yoga, as yoga can also be practiced through breath work, meditation or various spiritual practices. As yoga practice has grown in popularity throughout the world, we have discovered the many different styles and approaches that fall under the umbrella of hatha yoga. If you are new to yoga or if you are a long-time student looking to change or deepen your practice, the vast number of class choices can be quite intimidating and confusing. The following guide will help you to find the style of yoga that fits your lifestyle and goals.
This article was contributed by Seraphina Ashe, Guest Experience Programming Director at Glen Ivy Hot Springs
Ananda: Emphasis on Meditation
A gentle practice that combines awareness of the breath with affirmations. As the student moves through the yoga postures, the focus moves from body awareness to a meditative inner awareness. The use of affirmations with yoga postures is unique to Ananda yoga.
This practice combines physical practice with breathing exercise and meditation to help students connect with and expand their heart.
Anusara: Heart Centered
A relatively new style of yoga started in 1997 by American John Friend. While alignment is stressed, the main focus is honoring each individual student’s abilities and limitations. While asanas, (poses), focus on opening the heart area by properly aligning the shoulders, this practice also stresses compassion and respect for all individuals.
A fast-paced, physically demanding series of sequential poses beginning with sun salutation. The continual flow of movement is linked with the breath. The focus of this practice is to build physical strength, stamina and flexibility. Not for beginners.
Bikram: Sweat, sweat, sweat!
The founder of this style of yoga, Bikram Choudhury, holds the patent on a specific sequence of yoga poses practiced in a room heated from 85 to 100 degrees. The flow of the same 26 poses in combination with heat is said to facilitate deep detoxification. Not for beginners.
Integral: Relaxation, breath, healing
The developer of this style of yoga taught crowds at the original Woodstock to chant “om” for peace. Integral yoga focuses on pranayama, or breathing techniques, and meditation as much as it does physical postures. Dr. Dean Ornish utilizes Integral yoga as part of his groundbreaking treatment to reverse heart disease.
The use of props, straps, blocks and blankets help each student achieve proper alignment and symmetry in each asana or pose. In an Iyengar class, students can expect to hold each pose a little longer than in other classes. A very good class to learn the proper way to do each asana or pose. Because props and other tools are utilized to achieve proper alignment, this is a good class for any level.
Jivamukti balances an active, vigorous practice with an emphasis on meditation and chanting.
Kundalini: Awakening Energy
This type of yoga focuses on releasing kundalini energy, which is stored at the base of the spine. Although this yoga emphasizes chants and breathing along with physical postures, the focus on releasing the spine is key for those with back pain or stiffness. Make sure your Kundalini instructor is properly trained in the practice.
Laughter Yoga: Goodbye Stress!
Combines unconditional laughter with pranayama (breathing exercises).
Power Yoga: Challenging
A derivative of Ashtanga Yoga, this is a physically demanding, vigorous practice that focuses on building muscle and stamina. Not for beginners.
Viniyoga: Gentle Flow
A gentle form of flow yoga that coordinates breath with movement. The pace of the flow sequence is slower and performed to the level of the student. Very good for beginners.
Yin Yoga: Deep Stretch
Yin Yoga allows the student to move deeply in to each stretch by passively holding each pose for several minutes. Props, blocks and blankets may be used to assist in the passive stretch.