Choose best style of yoga for you

At the yoga studio, we often receive inquiries from new yogis, particularly those interested in weight loss. These new yogis typically have basic knowledge about the tradition of yoga and its practices. As yoga teachers, we have the opportunity to converse with a diverse group of people, often over the phone. However, without sufficient knowledge, some new yogis expect answers they want to hear, not necessarily the correct information. So, let’s delve into understanding the different forms of yoga and how they can aid in weight loss.

The first and most crucial point to understand is that every form of physical yoga practiced on the mat is Hatha Yoga. This includes Iyengar Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga (Mysore style), Bikram Yoga, and even Power Yoga; they are all forms of traditional yoga—hatha yoga. Lord Shiva is considered the Adi Yogi—the first yogi, and a sage Matsyendrnath is known as the founder of hatha yoga.


Understanding different types of Hatha Yoga

To make a well-informed decision about the type of Hatha yoga that suits you best, it’s essential to understand the differences between various types of hatha yoga. This includes Power Yoga, Mysore style Ashtanga Yoga, Asthanga Yoga Marg, traditional yoga, Iyengar Yoga, Hot Yoga/Bikram yoga, Yoga Therapy, Aerial Yoga, Acro Yoga, and Yin Yoga.

What is traditional yoga?

The traditional yoga is yoga by Patanjali, which is also known as Raj Yoga or classical yoga or Patanjali Yoga or Ashtanga Yoga. But when you actually inquire of traditional yoga at the studio, you are referring to only physical practice. The physical dimension of yoga is known as hatha yoga. And hatha yoga is not only limited to asanas but it also includes kriyas, pranayamas, bandhas and mudras too. The clarity of concepts is very important as we pass the information to someone else and we are passing it wrong. People with wrong information are more dangerous to the tradition of yoga than those who don’t know anything about it.

Can traditional yoga (hatha yoga) help you to lose weight?

Yes, you can lose weight with hatha yoga too. Yoga doesn’t work directly on your fat but it works on your inner mechanism. The whole energy changes and you become more vigilant of diet and your whole lifestyle. Even a physical form of yoga can build poise in you and make you a more balanced and focused person. All the positions performed in yoga are with breathing awareness. Surya Namaskars can work as a cardio exercise if practiced in a speedy manner. Sun Salutations will strengthen and tone your body if you take time to stop in every posture. Along with weight and inches loss, you may shed your ample amount of stress.

With hatha yoga practice, your stiff shoulders will become active and mobile. The backache will settle down. You will feel more energetic throughout the day. It will increase your quality of body and mind which will result in quality life too. So you will receive much more than you expected. But some patience and faith is required. The fact is that you have not piled up extra pounds overnight and not built stress level in a day so you need to give a few months to see some profound changes in yourself.

What is Iyengar Yoga?

Iyengar Yoga, developed by B K S Iyengar, is a very meticulous form of hatha yoga. The late Sri B K S Iyengar put a lot of time and effort into building a distinct style of hatha yoga. This form of yoga is favored by intermediate level students. This type of yoga gives a lot of focus on alignment and the props like ropes, belts, blocks and bolsters are used to make all alignments more precise.

What is Hot Yoga/Bikram yoga?

The term Hot Yoga and Bikram Yoga are interchangeable. This is a very popular form of hatha yoga in the US, developed by Bikram Choudhary. The sessions are arranged in the pre heated room at 40 degree Celsius. Approximately 26 postures and two breathing exercises are performed in every session which are structured by Bikram Choudhary in his distinct way. The only teachers who learn and complete a nine weeks course with Bikram, are allowed to teach hot yoga.

What is Yoga Therapy?

Yoga therapy is advised for the patients or specifically for individuals suffering from some chronic pain. For example, a person with Thyroid Disorder has to practice asanas and pranayamas that will stimulate his thyroid glands. An individual with high blood pressure or cardiac ailments may need to avoid a few yogic practices completely depending on the seriousness of his condition. Yoga therapy requires much more knowledge and understanding of ailments and yoga. It is always advised to take yoga therapy from a trained certified teacher.

What is Power Yoga?

The term power yoga was coined in the 1990s. The American yoga teachers Bryan Kest and Beryl Bender Rich are recognized as the originators of Power Yoga. This type of yoga mostly focuses on ultimate physical fitness and hence typical power yoga sessions will be more asana oriented than inclusive one with various practices like asanas, pranayamas, chanting and relaxation.

Power Yoga has its root in Mysore Style Ashtanga Yoga which was developed by K Pattabhi Jois. The founder of Power Yoga took a few lessons from K Pattabhi Jois. You can learn more about the concept of power yoga and its origin here… http://www.poweryoga.net/history_of_power_yoga.html.

The power yoga taught in Indian yoga studios follow different styles. You may find that somewhere it is combined with aerobic exercises while some studios choose to conduct sweaty sessions, dominated by Surya Namaskaras, in the dark room without fans and air conditions. You will find very few studios follow the original style of power Yoga.

What is Mysore style Ashtanga Yoga?

As mentioned earlier, Ashtanga Yoga (Mysore Style) was developed by K Pattabhi Jois. The earliest references suggest that Ashtanga Yoga is recorded by Sage Vaman Rishi in the text Yoga Korunta and then it was passed on to Guru Ram Mohan Brahmchari, who shared it with his disciple T Krishnamacharya. And K Pattanhi Jois received it from Krisnamacharya. Learn more about its history and lineage at http://kpjayi.org/the-practice/.

Now K Pattabhi Jois’s daughter R Sarswati and her son Sharath Jois are taking Ashtanga Yoga tradition forward. You will find very few Ashtanga Yoga (Mysore) teachers in your city and these teachers are listed on their website www.kpjayi.org.

You need a lot of diligence to practice Ashtanga Yoga (Mysore Style) as it tests your patience, willpower and body’s limitations.

What is Asthanga Yoga Marg?

The Ashthanga Yoga Marg is a comprehensive concept. It includes eight steps of yoga; Yama (restraints), Niyama (observances), Asana (postures), pranayamas (breathing exercises), Pratyahar (control over five senses), Dharana (concentration), Dhayna (meditation) and Samadhi (meeting your consciousness). Asanas are one of the limbs of Ashtanga Yoga. This type of yoga is not limited to the session in the studio but you have to follow it at many levels in your life. I will share ashtanga yoga concept more in detail in  upcoming posts.

Aerial Yoga

This is a recent addition to Hatha Yoga practice. This form of yoga is gaining popularity as you get to taste the adventure, fun and yoga at the same time. This is also called anti-gravity yoga as it is done in the air with the help of silk fabrics and hammock.  If you’re suffering from cardiac ailments or hypertension, please consult your doctor before going for it.

Acro Yoga

Acro yoga is the combination of acrobatics and hatha yoga. This modern form of yoga requires a partner or the group to perform acro yoga as you will be lifted by someone or you will raise someone in the air. This yoga demands more physical balance, flexibility, strength  and confidence. It is a kind of amalgamation of dance, circus, adventure and yoga.

Yin Yoga

This is a slow paced style of yoga in which postures are held for a longer time. The performed  postures would be gentle and in a flow, and the practitioner won’t feel any discomfort even if he stays there for a long time. This practice will make you feel more calm and relaxed.

Note: You can practice yoga on the mat without any basic knowledge too, but the adequate information will make you feel more confident of your practice and the whole Yoga Tradition.