1. What is hatha yoga?
Hatha yoga is a physical discipline that focuses on asanas, or poses. Most yoga studios and fitness clubs in the India teach some type of hatha yoga-and there are many different types.
2. So what are the different types of hatha yoga?
Here is a brief description of some of the most common varieties available :
- Ashtanga (or Astanga) Yoga: A fast-paced series of sequential poses that focuses on strength, flexibility, and building heat.
- Power Yoga: Ashtanga Yoga modified for Americans. This type of yoga became popular after Beryl Bender Birch published her book Power Yoga in 1995.
- Jivamukti-style Yoga: Chanting and breathing exercises are incorporated
- Kali Ray TriYoga: A series of flowing, dancelike movements . The practice also incorporates pranayama (breathing exercises) and meditation.
- White Lotus Yoga: A modified Ashtanga practice which is combined with breathwork and meditation.
- Bikram Yoga: Bikram Choudhury, known as the “yoga teacher to the stars,” developed this yoga practice which focuses on 26 poses always repeated in the same order.
- Iyengar Yoga: Unlike the practices listed above, Iyengar Yoga practitioners hold each pose for a longer amount of time. This type of yoga is renowned for its attention to body alignment. Props such as straps, blankets, and wooden blocks are commonly used.
- Integral Yoga: This traditional type of yoga combines postures, breathing exercises, selfless service, meditation, chanting, prayer, and self-inquiry.
- Sivananda Yoga: Like Integral Yoga, this traditional type of yoga combines postures, breathing, dietary restrictions, chanting, scriptural study, and meditation.
- ISHTA: ISHTA (Integral Science of Hatha and Tantric Arts) focuses on opening energy channels throughout the body with postures, visualizations, and meditation.
- Kripalu Yoga: This gentle, introspective practice urges practitioners to hold poses to explore and release emotional and spiritual blockages. Goal-oriented striving is discouraged and precise alignment is not as important as in some other traditions.
- Kundalini: This practice concentrates on awakening the energy at the base of the spine and drawing it upward. In addition to postures, a typical class will also include chanting, meditation, and breathing exercises.
- Ananda Yoga: Ananda Yoga classes focus on gentle postures designed to move the energy up to the brain and prepare the body for meditation. Classes also focus on proper body alignment and controlled breathing.
- Viniyoga: This is a gentle, healing practice that is tailored to each person’s body type and needs as they grow and change.
- Svaroopa Yoga: New students find this a very approachable style, often beginning in chair poses that are comfortable. Promotes healing and transformation.
3. How do I find a good yoga teacher?
Finding a good yoga teacher is like finding a good doctor or hairdresser-you have to ask around and then try out a few different people. If you don’t know anyone who does yoga, look in the Yellow Pages under “yoga” and then make a few phone calls. Ask questions. Is the yoga being taught vigorous or gentle? What is a good class time for beginners? Should I bring anything, like a yoga mat, or is that supplied? How much is each class? How long has the teacher been instructing? Before you begin yoga, consult your physician, and let your teacher know if you have any health problems.
4. What are the benefits of yoga?
The health benefits of yoga are just beginning to be investigated by the mainstream medical community. Initial trials have shown that yoga can help people with asthma, cardiac risk factors, carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, and more.
But essentially, a regular asana (posture) practice can create flexibility, build strength, and develop stamina. In addition to affecting the musculo-skeletal system, the postures can assist internal body functions. Most postures increase circulation, which can positively affect the respiratory and nervous systems. Other systems of the body, as well as the organs, can benefit from yoga, depending on the pose. Bringing the systems and organs of the body into balance naturally has a positive effect on your mental well-being. And specific breathing exercises can either stimulate or pacify your mind.
5. Can kids do yoga?
Yoga can benefit kids just as much as it helps adults. It can increase their flexibility, strength, coordination, body awareness, and concentration. With school, sports, peer pressure, and demanding social activities, a kid’s world can be stressful. Yoga can help relieve the stress and encourage relaxation. Many yoga studios have yoga for kids or “Mommy and Me” programs. If you’re familiar with yoga and planning on teaching it to your kids at home, you’re not going to be able to mimic an adult class. Kids love to move, play, and talk, so be sure to incorporate all three when creating a home practice.