Monday, March 2, 2009

Different Types of Yoga and their Benefits

Yoga is a holistic discipline that has its origins in ancient India, millennia ago. Since then it has branched out into several sub-disciplines with unique features, albeit with common roots. The basic principle of yoga still remains the union of the body and mind. In fact, the term yoga is often translated as union. Yoga involves physical poses or exercise knows an Asanas and breathing exercises known as Pranayama. Thus, it is a powerful combination of body movements and meditation.

Different Yoga Types

Hatha Yoga is one of the most basic types of yoga and tries to achieve balance between the body and mind. Hatha yoga is usually slow-paced and gentle and acts as an introduction to more advanced styles of yoga. The next two commonly practiced styles of yoga are Ananda Yoga and Kundalini Yoga. The key difference between Ananda yoga and Kundalini yoga is that while the former focuses on Asanas and Pranayama for better mental and physical health, the latter emphasizes spiritual well-being.

Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga caters to those who are interested in serious workouts. It includes performing challenging poses while focusing on breathing exercises as well, which helps to achieve all-around well-being and health. Power Yoga, a common practice in the West is an offshoot of this type of yoga. As Power Yoga is intense, it helps the functioning of the circulatory system by increasing blood flow to different parts of the body.

Bikram Yoga is performed in a heated room. Practitioners of this type of yoga believe that the heat helps you go deeper into a yoga pose as the body becomes more flexible. It also helps flush out toxins from the body through sweat. Another popular form of yoga, Iyengar Yoga, primarily focuses on bodily alignment. The poses help improve posture, and thereby your physique and stamina.

Another form of yoga is Bhakti Yoga, which is mainly for devotion and worship. This type of yoga involves a lot of chanting and meditation. Kripalu Yoga similarly focuses on spiritual knowledge and wisdom. It emphasises ancient yogic teachings and would suit those with an intellectual temperament.

There are currently many innovative types of yoga such as Aerial Yoga, which is done whilst suspended a few inches off the ground. Another type is Swara Yoga that uses sounds produced from the mouth and nose to influence the body. The soothing meditative vibrations are said to bring inner peace and calm.