There are lots of good reasons to consider taking up yoga. It is well known for inducing calm and reducing stress, it builds strength and it lowers blood pressure. However, it can be confusing deciding which class to take. What is the difference between Iyengar, Bikram and Hatha styles? How flexible and fit do you need to be, and which type of yoga fits best with your own expectations and abilities?
The good news is that you can begin in any of the disciplines, and find one that suits your needs. Flexibility is not a prerequisite, this comes with continued practice, as well as enhanced balance.
Iyengar and Ashtanga
These two forms evolved from the same teacher and share asanas (postures) but have different approaches. Iyengar focuses on correct alignment and uses blocks and bolsters to help with this. For this reason it is suitable for anyone with an injury or stiffness. Ashtanga is faster paced and more vigorous. Poses are held for five breaths and interspersed with a half sun salutation.
This method is carried out in a heated room to encourage the body to sweat and release toxins. It was developed by yogi Bikram Choudhury. There are 26 poses in the class, and wherever you go in the world, they will follow the same sequence.
Hatha, Kundalini and Yin
Hatha tends to be gentle, and concentrates on the common asanas, without any chanting. Kundalini specifically aims to awaken the energy in the spine. It usually incorporates meditation, breathing exercises and chanting. Yin is all about seated postures and poses can be held for up to ten minutes. It is ideal for stilling the mind and learning to “let go.”
This relatively new form of yoga was devised in 1984 by Sharon Gannon and David Life. Jivamukti translates as “liberation while living”. The classes are vinyasa style, flowing from one pose to another. Music and scripture readings also feature.
Whether your end goal is a good work-out, a release for tired joints, a chance to unwind and relax or an exploration of your spiritual side, you will be sure to find a yoga class that is beneficial and enjoyable.
Find yoga teachers and classes near you on www.yogahub.co.uk
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