Editor’s note: Wellness Word is an informational column which is not meant to replace a health care professional’s diagnosis, treatment or medication.
A look at popular yoga styles today
With the myriad of yoga classes offered these days it can be hard to find the style that best fits your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs. While the term yoga includes many practices in the West, the term has become synonymous with asana, or the practice of postures. For a student new to yoga, Hatha classes are a wonderful place to begin. For someone familiar with the postures, and looking for more of a challenging practice, Vinyasa or Kundalini might be a style for you. If you have physical limitations or injury, Therapeutic Yoga will teach you ways of adapting all yoga practices to better support your needs.
The word “Hatha” is traditionally used to describe all forms of asana (posture) and pranayama (breath) practices of yoga. Hatha Yoga classes are a wonderful introduction to yoga, as they tend to move at a slower pace and set a solid foundation where students can learn the basics.
The practice of Vinyasa Yoga combines breath and dynamic movement for a flow based style that is faster-paced and more physically challenging than most Hatha classes. Sun salutations are used to transition between most postures. Vinyasa includes a deceptively challenging pose called Chaturanga Dandasana, that is not recommend for beginning yoga students.
For intermediate practitioners of yoga, those who have explored Hatha and Vinyasa or other related styles such as Bikram, Ashtanga, and have already developed a strong practice, something like Kundalini Yoga is a wonderful next level practice. Kundalini Yoga brings in all Eight Limbs of Yoga to the practice,or set called a Kriya. Although beginners can do Kundalini Yoga, beginning with a good Hatha foundation may support a deeper Kundalini Yoga practice.
For students with physical limitations, who experience Hatha, Vinyasa or Kundalini styles as over-whelming or not accessible, gentle and Therapeutic Yoga classes are a wonderful alternative. The “therapeutic” category of yoga classes have a variety of names, such as Gentle Yoga, Yin and Restorative. These classes are slower paced and physically gentle, with mindful transitions between postures.
Yoga Therapy can be done in both group and one-on-one settings. Over the years this practice has become more popular. Through the teachings of yoga and the belief that the body, heart, mind, health and lifestyle are intrinsically related, many people are able to regain balance and full vitality.
This holistic approach to health can help individuals rehabilitate from injury, illness, and surgery, and those struggling with addiction, stress, anxiety, and depression.
Jessica Jarris & Signa Cheney,
Registered Yoga Teachers
Currently teaching a variety of classes at Mandala Yoga
What is Kundalini Yoga?
Kundalini yoga is called the Yoga of Transformation because it allows the practitioner, in a relatively short period of time, to overcome limitations and barriers that keep a person from achieving their highest and truest potential. Kundalini accelerates the individuals access to a higher sense of self and consciousness.
The kriyas (yoga sets) practiced in Kundalini Yoga are very ancient, and have been perfected over hundreds of years to open and align the chakras and allow the kundalini (creative energy in every person) to flow freely. It is a practice that combines meditation, mantra (chanting), physical exercises and breathing techniques.
Self-healing arises from these practices and allows one to feel complete and whole; in this way one can deal with the many challenges our modern world presents us with daily.
Unlike traditional Hatha styles of yoga, in which each class has similar moves Kundalini classes tend to be different each time – depending on which kriya (yoga set) the teacher has chosen to teach. There are hundreds of kriyas, such as “kriya for the lower back”, “kriya to dispel fear” or “kriya for the kidneys”, “kriya for awakening intuition”, so classes are hardly ever the same.
In Kundalini Yoga, “Naad” or sound vibration is integral to the practice, so students will chant and recite or sing mantras–a sure way to open the throat chakra–which correlates directly with communication. Classes also usually play Kundalini Yoga music, which is very beautiful and opening, or they may even have live musical accompaniment. It is a yoga for anyone regardless of prior experience – often called the “householder’s yoga.”
Registered Yoga Teacher, www.vaniyoga.com
Currently teaching Kundalini Yoga: Monday 9-10:30am, Thursday 5:30-7pm and Saturdays 9-10:30am at Mandala Yoga
What is Yin Yoga?
focuses on invoking feminine qualities and energies. When we think of the feminine in nature, we might think of the moon, water, flowers– receptive and relaxed elements. This is Yin. When we think of masculine energy in nature, we might think of the sun, heat, rocks–active, dynamic, powerful forces. This is Yang.
Most of us are familiar with the great opposites of Yin and Yang.
Yin is about using your natural body weight in tandem with the gentle forces of gravity to remain in poses for anywhere from 2-6 minutes. By holding the poses for a while, you can really drop into them. Yin yoga is not about building strength, it is about becoming more flexible. It’s not about powering the muscles, but about lengthening the connective tissues (tendons, ligaments) to become more limber and more flexible. When the body is flexible, so is the mind.
The Yin style of yoga is about being fully supported, by the Earth and by yoga props. There are only a couple standing poses, the majority are prone or supine. Using yoga blocks, blankets, bolsters and straps, the physical body can “lean in” to the support and the pose to garner the benefits. This is not easy – it requires a determination to be still, to listen to the physical body, and quiet the mind. Relaxation takes effort.
In this crazy, busy world of energy going in all directions, Yin brings us home. Home to the quiet, home to relaxation, home to our center, our essence, who we truly are when we calm ourselves and allow our true nature to unfold. I liken it to a flower…we start the posture as a closed bud, and as time passes and the mind and body relax, the petals slowly unfold, and we blossom into our true selves. It is the great unfolding.
, Registered Yoga Teacher
Currently teaching Yin: Sunday nights at 7 pm Mandala Yoga