Whole Life Magazine

June/July 2015

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Page 17 of 43

By Kaci Yoh M ost people understand that practicing yoga is good for their health, but with so many avail- able classes and styles, it may be diffi cult to know where to begin. Is all yoga the same? Is there any difference between the yoga offered at your gym and, for example, Ashtanga? Is it awkward for a beginner? Each of these seven popular types of yoga can help you heal, but you'll go more often if you fi nd a style you enjoy. HATHA History In Sanskrit, yoga means "to yoke" the mental, spiritual and physical aspects of the body together. Yoga includes much more than the physical postures, breath control and meditation instruction offered in most yoga courses in the West. According to the Eight Limbs of Yoga, every practice using asanas (poses) is called hatha yoga. In modern-day Western culture, the term yoga refers only to the asanas, and hatha yoga is a general term for beginner classes. Class Structure Hatha yoga is sometimes referred to as gen- tle yoga. Students perform static poses at a slow pace. Class structure varies, and students often experiment with different instructors to fi nd one that is right for them. Application to Healing Hatha yoga classes are an excellent place for beginner yogis and those whose primary goal is lengthening muscles. If you are creating a new fi tness routine, hatha is a good place to start. Hatha yoga helps people who suffer from PTSD, eating disorders, migraines and addiction to connect to their bodies. The slow, gentle pace of hatha yoga creates quiet space for the mind/body connection to heal. IYENGAR History A style of yoga devel- oped by B.K.S. Iyengar focused on alignment. Class Structure Classes focus on long holds and precise alignment cues. Yoga blocks, blankets and straps are used to minimize risk of injury, accommodate limitations in fl exibility and allow students to achieve proper alignment. Ideal for beginners and people whose primary focus is fl exibility. Application to Healing Iyengar yoga helps peo- ple recover from and avoid physical injuries. Practicing Iyengar yoga reduces arthri- tis, chronic pain and scoliosis. Long holds in postures quiet the mind and increase concentration. ASHTANGA History A vigorous form of yoga brought to the West by K. Pattabhi Jois. Class Structure Students move through a sequence of set pos- tures. There are six series of poses. Each series builds upon the next as the student progresses in his or her practice. Classes are vigorous, and poses fl ow. Intermediate yogis, advanced yogis and beginners with an established fi tness routine benefi t from this practice. Application to Healing Ashtanga yoga is good for weight loss, building stamina and increasing cardiovascular health. Practic- ing Ashtanga alleviates symptoms of asthma, chronic pain, de- pression and obesity. Because the postures are the same in each class, students have the opportunity to work through and relieve mental processes associated with PTSD, addiction, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive thinking and behaviors. VINYASA History A spin-off of Ashtanga yoga, vinyasa means movement with breath. Class Structure Vinyasa classes are sometimes called "vinya- sa fl ow" or fl ow, and poses differ from class to class. Students pair breath with movement to cre- ate a dance-like quality to their movements. Class pace and in- tensity vary widely by instructor. Application to Healing Vinyasa yoga is best for intermediate yogis desiring a physical challenge and guid- ance on breath relaxation. In addition to stretching, practitioners of vinyasa build strength. People struggling with chronic pain, anxiety, depres- sion, osteoporosis, high blood pressure and obesity are good candidates for vinyasa fl ow. A simple guide for the beginning yogi FIND YOUR YOGA TYPE yoga & spirit 18 wholelifetimes.com

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