There may be different reasons for people to practice yoga. While some may turn up to yoga to improve physical strength or posture, some others may do it to recover from an injury. While some may do it to stay fit, others might consider it a path to enlightenment. The most common forms of yoga practiced all over the world are:
Hatha yoga: It is the most common form of yoga, practiced with an aim to balance the body and the mind. It involves a combination of asanas or physical postures, breathing exercises or pranayama, and meditation. Hatha yoga rejuvenates the energy channels to help the body get rid of chronic diseases. Hatha yoga is further categorized as:
o Iyengar yoga: It was conceptualized by Mr. B.K. Iyengar to focus mainly on the asanas. Props such as belts and ropes are used to perfect the physical postures and achieve proper alignment of body structure.
o Ashtanga yoga: It is fast-paced yoga and demands a certain level of fitness from its practitioners. It is divided into stages, and one is required to master one stage before moving to the next stage in the sequence. Ashtanga is recommended for people seeking enlightenment and self-realization.
o Flow yoga: Also called Vinyasa yoga, it involves smooth and steady transition from one asana to the other, usually in sync with the breath. There are no specific rules and it sometimes takes the form of a dance.
o Bikram yoga: Conceptualized by Mr. Bikram Choudhury, it is also called hot yoga. It involves practicing 26 asanas and 2 breathing exercises in a sequence. The distinctive feature is that you are required to practice in a heated room, at an approximate temperature of 40ËsC, in around 40% humidity. The heat helps de-toxify the body through increased sweating. It improves blood circulation and brings every joint and muscle in the body back to work.
Karma yoga: It is intended to attain selflessness, while rendering one’s duties. By practicing karma yoga, you detach yourself from the consequences or the end results of action. This helps in becoming process-oriented and focused and brings about the liberation of mind and soul.
Bhakti yoga: This form of yoga is usually practiced to completely devote oneself to God. Archana, padasevana, kirtana, and smarana are some of the ways used to connect to the Almighty.
Anusara yoga: Anusara means to “follow your heart”. Practiced extensively in the United States and the UK, anusara yoga emphasizes on doing the asanas with grace. For this, certain alignment techniques are used to refine the physical postures.
Kundalini yoga: Kundalini means energy that originates from the root of the spine. Kundalini yoga is a powerful form of yoga that incorporates pranayama, mantra, asanas, as well as bhakti yoga. It works by awakening and re-energizing the seven chakras of the body, also called the seven centers of consciousness.
There are various other forms of yoga, each catering to specific needs. Laughter yoga, heart yoga, sahaja yoga, mantra yoga, and purna yoga are popular and customized forms that serve the different needs and objectives. What you must remember is to start slowly under expert guidance, and increase the pace gradually.