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Yoga: Methods, Types, Philosophy, and Risks

Yoga is basically a spiritual discipline which is based on a subtle science. It focuses on bringing compatibility and harmony between the human body and mind. It is a science and an art of healthy living. The term ‘yoga’ is actually derived from Sanskrit language ‘Yuj,’ meaning to unite or to join. According to Yogic scriptures, the Yoga practice leads to the unification of individual awareness with that of universal awareness, indicating a perfect coordination between the body and mind, man and nature.

Methods and Types of Yoga

With the advent of computer and internet across the world, yoga has actually come a long way in the last few years. The practice of yoga is very old; however, it has transformed a lot and is practiced by nearly 38 million people around the world. It is an apt place of discovery and association with the body that encompasses proper stretching techniques, centering the spirit and mind, meditation, breathing and balance. There are different types and methods of yoga for you to explore and practice, such as:

Kundalini Yoga

In Sanskrit, ‘Kundalini’ means life force energy (referred to as ‘chi’ or ‘prana’ in yoga community. This form is supposed to be tightly curled at the base of spine. This yoga technique is carefully designed to unlock or stimulate the energy and to decrease negative thinking and stress.

You will feel great and elevate your consciousness with the help of Kundalini Yoga. This is achieved by challenging both the body and mind with meditation, singing, chanting and kriyas (specific poses paired with chanting and breath work). You might notice everybody is wearing white, as it is thought to increase aura and deflect negativity.

Hatha Yoga

This yoga practice gets its name from Sanskrit words for moon and sun. It is designed to balance contradicting forces. In this yoga form, the balance might come from flexibility and strength, breath and body, or mental and physical energy.

It is traditional in nature and is considered to be ideal for beginners. ‘Hatha’ means forceful, but this associates more to the aspect of regularity and concentration of practice, instead of applying unwanted force to the body. For proper hatha, classes should include asana (poses), meditation, and pranayama (breathing exercises), so other kinds of yoga – like Bikram, Ashtanga or Iyengar – are technically believed to be hatha as well.

Vinyasa Yoga

This yoga is also known as ‘vinyasa flow’ or ‘flow yoga.’ It is a common style practiced around the globe. For beginners, one example is three-week yoga retreat. It was adapted from the organized Ashtanga practice a few decades ago. Vinyasa means ‘place in a particular way,’ which is interpreted as linking movement and breath.

vinyasa yoga

You will often see words, such as mindful, dynamic or slow paired with vinyasa to indicate the intensity level of a practice. Vinyasa is a style where the poses are synched with the breath in an uninterrupted rhythmic flow. The flow could be meditative, calming the nervous system and mind, even though you are moving.

Yin Yoga

This yogic treatment is a slow process, wherein poses are in fact held for a minute and finally up to five minutes or more. It has its roots in martial arts and is designed to improve flexibility and increase circulation in joints.

The technique focuses on thighs, lower back, hips, and uses props, such as blocks, blankets and bolsters to allow gravity do the work, thus helping people to relax. Though, other types of yoga focus on the main muscle groups, yin yoga focuses on the human body’s connective tissues. The yoga information in Yin Yoga also helps in the recovery from hard or rigorous workouts.

Ashtanga Yoga

Ashtanga yoga comprises of six series of particular poses. Each series and each pose are taught when the teacher decides that the student has mastered the previous pose or series. This is a flow-style, physical yoga with spiritual elements. The masters teach hands-on adjustments and each student gets a unique practice.

The practitioner actually moves at the pace of their own breath, growth point and personaledge. Each person learns the practice and proceeds at their own relative speed through the poses. In the West, this yoga is frequently taught in the form of ‘led’ classes, where the 1st or 2nd series is taught to the students from beginning to finish over ninety minutes to 2 hours.

Bikram Yoga

Bikram Chaudhary originated this yoga. It is a type of hot yoga similar to ashtanga yoga. The classes include a series of poses that are performed in the similar order. The yoga techniques have strict rules and every class is held for about ninety minutes, with two breathing exercises and 26 postures. The room or place should be 105-degree Fahrenheit with 40% humidity level.

Keep in mind that the teachers don’t adjust students. Since the yoga has many rules, several studios call their classes or sessions ‘hot yoga’ so that they can customize or adjust their offerings. Practicing in a heated surrounding allows to detoxify the body, improve circulation and get deeper into postures and poses.

Iyengar Yoga

Named after its founder, the renowned BKS Iyengar, who originated his alignment-based, classical practice in India. The yogic techniques of this form became very popular in America in the 1970s. High level of training and focus are needed for the teachers to impart correct practical information through postures and poses. Moreover, the yoga makes use of resourceful props.

Though, considered optional in several practices, many props are used in the classes, including benches, walls and chairs. Bolsters, blocks and straps are also used in the classes. This static type of yoga is considered to be ideal for older adults. The techniques involve long holds of positions and detailed alignment.

Sivananda Yoga

It is a type of hatha yoga and its teachings are based on Hindu spiritual guru Swami Sivananda. Generally, the classes are relaxing: while most classes end with savasana (corpse/final relaxation pose), Sivananda begins with this pose, and then proceeds into sun salutations, breathing exercises, and eventually 12 basic asanas.The yogasan information can help push a person to next level if they are a beginner.

It is specifically designed to support wellness and health and is considered appropriate for all the ages and levels. Anybody who wants more spiritual practice and looking for gentle yoga should opt for Sivananda Yoga.

Power Yoga

Similar to Vinyasa yoga, power yoga has its roots in ashtanga yoga.However, it is less organized and open to interpretation by teachers. Usually, power yoga is more active and the asanas are performed at quicker pace when compared to other types of yoga. The yoga increases flexibility andstrengthens the muscles. The variation of poses and sequences keeps the mind engaged and strengthens all the muscle groups in body. Power yoga may be hot yoga and some studios provide a mix of slow flow and power yoga to ease disciples into this intense training practice. Anyone who desires good workout but less rigidity should consider power yoga.

Prenatal Yoga

It can be a useful yoga for moms-to-be and focuses on relieving pains linked with pregnancy like aching low back or sore hips. With the help of prenatal yoga, you can get relief from stress and self-care. Furthermore, the yoga study of this form can improve breathing exercises, which in turn, can be useful during labour and child delivery. Since it is a practice meant for expected mothers, it excludes poses, which might be unsafe or taxing for changing body.

Before moving ahead with this yoga type, it is very important to first seek advice from a doctor in order to avoid complications or unnecessary mishaps. It includes different exercises to prepare the body for delivery, such as pelvic floor work and squats.

Restorative Yoga

This yoga uses different props to support the human body. The main objective of the yoga is to totally relax into poses that are held for a minimum of 5 minutes but usually longer. You may only do a few poses, and its acceptable to wander into sleep during the class.

Some teachers may even lead the students through yoga nidra – a well guided meditation which allows a person to hover beatifically between sleep and wake. It must be noted that 1 hour in yoga nidra is supposed to be equal to few hours of shuteye, which can be a productive self-care tool.

Aerial Yoga

At times, it is also referred to as anti-gravity yoga. Aerial yoga is comparatively new but rapidly catching on with the public around the world. It includes traditional yoga poses along with added support of a durable, silky hammock which hangs from ceiling.

In this yoga, hammock is utilized as supportive prop in various poses like downward dog or pigeon and helps to easily execute inverted poses such as handstands and headstands that may be beyond our comfort levels. The classes could be either relaxing or challenging.

Philosophy of Yoga

The major philosophy of yoga is straightforward: spirit, body and mind are all one. They cannot be plainly separated. But there are various philosophical ideas, which are helpful to explore deeper dimensions of human body, spirit and mind. Studying and interpreting these ideas are important to shift our opinion or view as ourselves as separate, to understanding the unitive state.

Like Buddhism, yoga philosophy conceives that spiritual ignorance produces suffering and binds people to wheel of samsara (rebirth cycle). The removal of ignorance could take many different techniques and paths in yoga. Nevertheless, yoga’s central philosophical teachings revolve around the techniques and practice of self-awareness, spiritual knowledge, detachment and mental discernment.

The different routes of yoga use various aspects of Upanishadic non-dualism and Sankhya dualism. Some paths like Bhakti and Tantra use the forms of Hindu gods and goddesses. Also, Patanjali’s yoga sutras include the concept the Ishvara, which is a personal God.

Therefore, a yogi must understand both the relations between prakriti and purusha, atman and brahman, and trinity of Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. The law of karma is key to yoga philosophy. Karma acts like glue that attaches people to wheel of samsara which continues suffering and delusion of maya. It must be remembered that maya is ignorance or illusion that creates a veil between ego and unitive experience of the world created by God.

These foundational world opinions or views can be perplexing to Westerners. Nonetheless, these views are helpful to reorient the minds to see, explore and experience the interconnection of all aspects and things. The philosophy of yoga also integrates the concepts of subtle human body and spiritual energies of kundalini and prana moving through the chakras and nadis. Hatha yoga is infused in the concepts of energy anatomy.

Risks Associated with Yoga

For many years, yoga has been related with vitality and good health. While there are many styles, the poses reduce stress levels and maintain heart rate and blood pressure. However, yoga comes with some disadvantages as well. The poses and techniques must be done in the right way.

When a teacher or student has less muscle strength or other form of physical ailment, then they may put themselves at an increased danger of sustaining serious injury by performing the physical postures. In addition, quick poses and movements that extend the vertebrae or neck extensively could cause brain injuries.

On the other hand, extreme head or neck rotation can damage vertebral arteries, which can lead to production of clots and swelling. This increases the possibility of getting a stroke. Thus, the poses are ideal for a person with good health and can cause moderate to permanent injuries if the yoga steps are taken to the extremes.

With people suffering from osteoporosis, certain poses might do harm than good because the posture or pose increases soft tissue along with bone injury. Some poses may even cause strained muscles. People who experience back, hip, neck and knee pain are in high-risk group. So, avoid the extremes and follow the poses properly under the guidance of a trained yoga teacher.

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