Above: Marichyasana B from the Ashtanga Primary Series
Believe it or not, not all yoga is the same. Do you often hear strange words when people are referring to yoga? Like, ‘Bikram’ or ‘Vinyasa’? I’m going to break it down for you so you know what the differences are.
Yoga is as old as 5,000 years ago. Over time it has developed into many different styles. Yoga didn’t arrive to the United States until some time during the 1800′s and wasn’t widely known until the 1960′s. Yoga is not a religion and anyone can practice.
Ashtanga – Ashtanga (“eight limbs”) is the grandaddy of yoga. Taught by Pattabhi Jois (yoga master) in Mysore, India. Has become popular through out the world. The system is based on six series of poses which increase in difficulty, allowing students to work at their own pace. In class, you’ll be led nonstop through one series. There’s no time for adjustments—you’ll be encouraged to breathe as you move from pose to pose.
Vinyasa – A general yoga. Stems from Ashtanga with more freedom of sequencing and what some say is “more sensible” sequencing for the body. Flowing physical postures paired with the breath for mind and body. Many different levels.
Bikram Yoga – Sequence of the same 26 postures strung together in a heated room. 90 minutes. “Hot Yoga” classes or studios are not Bikram. They may be in a heated room but Bikram Yoga is only called Bikram Yoga, but yes technically it is hot.
Power Yoga – Made popular by Bender Birch. A western style of yoga, athletes are attracted to this fast paced work out which creates heat and energy.
Jivamukti – Highly meditative. Includes chanting, meditation, music and affirmations. A very spiritual practice paired with the physical movements.
Iyengar – From B. K. S. Iyengar. Focus on alignment with many props such as blocks, belts, bolsters, blankets, backbend props and chairs. This is the trademark of Iyengar Yoga—an intense focus on the subtleties of each posture. In an Iyengar class, poses are typically held much longer than in other schools of yoga, so that practitioners can pay close attention to the precise muscular and skeletal alignment this system demands.
Kripalu – The three stages of Kripalu yoga include a focus on alignment, breath, and the presence of consciousness, a conscious holding of the postures to the level of tolerance and beyond, deepening concentration and focus of internal thoughts and emotions and meditation in motion.
Kundalini – The practice of Kundalini Yoga incorporates postures, dynamic breathing techniques, and chanting and meditating on mantras such as “Sat Nam” (meaning “I am truth”). Teachers concentrate on awakening
the energy at the base of the spine and drawing it upward through each of the seven chakras.
Anusara – Anusara means “to step into the current of divine will.” Anusara Yoga is an approach to hatha yoga in which human spirit blends with the science of biomechanics. It is a new system of hatha yoga that is spiritually inspiring and heavily focused on body alignment. The central philosophy of this yoga is that each person is equally divine in body, mind, and spirit. Each student’s various abilities and limitations are respected and honored. Anusara Yoga differentiates itself from other hatha yoga systems with three key areas of practice; Alignment, Attitude and Action.