This is a term, which actually means the practice of the physical postures, also called asanas – which could essentially mean all styles of physical yoga. Generally though, a class called “hatha” will be an eclectic blend of a few different styles often with a more gentle approach.
If you are looking for detail, therapeutic yoga or a very thoughtful and precise class this is the style for you. B.K.S. Iyengar the founder of this style has been prolific and unwavering in his contribution to the world of yoga, and stands as one of the world’s most influential yogis.
All teachers of this style go through a rigorous certification process and are often very dedicated and devoted to this style. A class typically utilizes props in the form of blocks, straps, bolsters and blankets to assist students toward exploring the poses more fully with regard to their limitations or injuries. Classes are slow moving and poses are often held for much longer than in other styles of yoga.
This is the “Hot” yoga you may have heard of, with studios designed to reach the heat of India, around 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Founder Bikram Choudhury developed this sequence of 26 postures to encourage the proper functioning of every body system. The sweat that you are sure to experience at one of these classes is said to cleanse and move toxins out of your body. Many proponents love the workout for the effects of weight loss and purification. Classes are often full and repetitive. Not recommended for anyone with heart problems, high blood pressure or pregnancy.
A Kundalini yoga class is a dynamic practice incorporating breathing techniques, chanting, mantras (sacred sounds that empower the mind), and kriyas (action or ritual of energetics). Kundalini is an ancient form from the tantra yoga tradition, until 1969 or so, a closely guarded practice passed on only to select initiates. Yogi Bhajan, the North American rescource and leader for this powerful form of yoga brought it to North America because he believed Kundalini would help people to find their birthright to be “happy, healthy and holy” and to reach their full potential. You won’t do many postures in a kundalini class, but just the same you will more than likely work very hard. You may encounter a more traditional looking yoga teacher often with a headdress and off white clothing. The protocol for a Kundalini class is often more formal than some of the other styles, but it is well worth the experience and not as intimidating as it initially may appear.
Vinyasa comes from the Sanskrit “nyasa” which means “to place” and the prefix “vi,” “in a special way” – as in the arrangement of notes in a composition, the sequence of steps of a dance, or the linking of one posture (asana) to the next. In a yoga class you will experience this as a flowing sequence of specific asanas coordinated with the movement of the breath. The most common form of the Vinyasa approach in North America is the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga of Patabbhi Jois.
By all rights if taught with sensitivity to the essence of vinyasa – a method that assesses the needs of the individual or group and prescribes a complementary, step-by-step practice to meet those needs – vinyasa can be a much more balanced and artful approach to practicing a series of postures.
One of the more popular forms of yoga tody, perhaps for its challenging fast pace, Ashtanga is also a hot form of yoga, so be prepared to sweat. The Ashtanga Vinyasa system of Patabbhi Jois is based on six different “series” or sequences all increasing in difficulty. The first sequence called “The Primary Sequence” is most commonly taught, and incorporates breathing (pranyama), gaze (dhristi), and energetic locks known as “bandhas”.
The philosophy behind this system is that by doing your practice daily you are in effect releasing and purifying the body, known as “tapas” and that that is all you need to do in order to attain the goal of yoga. According to Jois, this system if followed completely will incorporate all of the “Eight Limbs” of the philosophy and practice of yoga as taught by the great sage Patanjali.
This is a great practice for developing strength and flexibility at the same time. It has the potential to accelerate the progress of a student quickly, if followed as prescribed – six days a week. For those who are not able to devote that amount of time it is an excellent system to learn to incorporate breath and movement as well as an awareness of the eight limbs.
Perhaps the person responsible for the term “Power Yoga” is a woman from New York, Beryl Bender Birch. Her dedication to the Ashtanga system and desire to teach it to North Americans led her to come up with a term that American’s could relate to, as “Ashtanga was too foreign of a word to describe a system of yoga that was dynamic and could provide a good workout. From there Power Yoga is a term used to describe not just the ashtanga system, but a whole array of various interpretations of dymamic “vinyasa” flow sequence’s. Generally a class called “Power Yoga” will be some form of a “Vinyasa Flow” with an emphasis perhaps on strength and endurance.
This describes a center as well as a style of yoga as developed by yogi Amrit Desai and the staff at Kripalu – a center for yoga and health in Massachusetts. Kripalu yoga follows three stages – willful practice (a focus on alignment, breath, and presence of consciousness), willful surrender (a conscious holding of the postures to a level of tolerance and beyond), and meditation in motion (the body’s complete release of internal tensions and a complete trust in the body’s wisdom).
Anusara means “to step into the current of divine will”. A very heart centered and thoughtful approach to yoga practice, Anusara Yoga is a integrated approach to hatha yoga that blends the human spirit with the precise science of biomechanics. Anusara defines itself with three main areas of practice: Attitude: The practioner balances an opening to grace with an aspiration for awakening to his or her true nature. Alignment: Each pose is performed with an integrated awareness of all of the different parts of the body. Action: Each pose is performed as an artistic expression of the heart in which muscular activity is balanced with an awareness of the expansive state of inner freedom.