Yoga is colourful and diverse. Some classes are dynamic, sweaty and challenging, others reduce stress, lead to deep relaxation - and for some, perhaps even to enlightenment. Even if yoga hasn't been for you yet, chances are that with the right course (and the right teacher) you'll mutate into a yoga fan. We will show you what to expect from Hatha Yoga, Yin Yoga, Jivamukti Yoga and Bikram Yoga.
Yoga brings body and soul into balance
The Indian yoga teaching is based on centuries-old meditation techniques, breathing and physical exercises. They help to relax and develop more serenity. They support the well-being and strengthen the posture. According to the tantric teachings on which many yoga styles are based, yoga dissolves unwanted energy blockages. Yoga is therefore just the right thing for everyone who wants to bring body and soul into balance.
The entirety of the physical and meditative exercises of yoga includes
- physical exercises (called asana)
- breathing exercises (called Pranayama)
- purification exercises (called Kriya)
- gestures and energy locks (called mudras and bandhas)
- chants and the reflection on the inner sound (called Mantras and Nada Anusandhana)
- meditations (called Dharana)
- the view and attitude towards the environment and oneself (called Yamas and Niyamas)
You will soon find that some yoga styles include all of these exercises, while others include only a few. This is what makes each yoga type so unique.
Popular Yoga Styles
In Europe, yoga only became popular in the 20th century and has been developing ever since. Many yoga classes practiced today contain both traditional and modern elements. In total there are several dozen yoga styles. Some are fundamentally different, others only slightly different.
Whether a course appeals to you depends not only on the content of the course but also on the chemistry between you and your trainer. If you feel that you are in good hands with your yoga teacher and can let yourself go, this is an ideal basis for relaxing and enriching yoga classes.
It is also important that the trainer has had at least two years of training and is sensitive to your individual health and fitness level.
These are some of the best known and most popular yoga classes:
Dynamic and challenging: Vinyasa Flow, Power Yoga & Hatha Yoga
For those seeking an intense, sweaty workout, the flowing exercises of Vinyasa Flow and Power Yoga are perfect. The sequences of movements vary, the breath is actively involved and there is music in the background.
The classical Hatha Yoga, from which all other yoga styles and traditions have grown, also offers an exciting mixture of simple perception exercises of the body, complex postures and deep breathing exercises.
Hot: Bikram Yoga
In Bikram Yoga (also known as hot yoga) things are getting hot: The practice room is heated to almost 40°C and in about one and a half hours, usually 26 yoga exercises are performed.
The heat makes the muscles more flexible, stretching is easier and the body detoxifies when sweating.
Powerful and spiritual: Kundalini Yoga,Jivamukti Yoga & Sivananda Yoga
Dynamic Kundalini Yoga is designed to awaken the life energy (prana). It teaches powerful physical exercises, conscious breathing and mantra meditation. Those who want to train intensively, seek more spirituality and are not afraid to sing along are in good hands here.
Jivamukti Yoga originated in the USA: powerful, sweaty, with flowing movements, which the teacher sometimes corrects with full physical effort. Mantrams, meditation and music are the spiritual components of the course. In addition, the yoga teacher quotes from ancient Indian scriptures and tells more about the yoga philosophy.
Sivananda Yoga focuses on the same twelve, sometimes very demanding asanas. This feels more meditative and spiritual. Mantras and prayers complement this style of yoga.
Gentle and meditative: Yin Yoga
Yin Yoga is a good way to relax. The individual exercises (asanas) are held for several minutes and invite you to let go and feel yourself. The intensive stretching demands fascia and muscles.
Yoga versus Pilates, Qi Gong, Tai Chi
Yoga is the trend. The number of classes is great. Nevertheless, it is worthwhile to look at other relaxation techniques as well: Pilates, Qi Gong, Tai Chi.
Pilates is not unlike yoga. But it has far less history and spiritual superstructure. Pilates was invented in the 1920s in a military hospital and was intended to gently stimulate the patient's muscle development. Many of the exercises revolve around the so-called powerhouse, the middle of the abdomen, and are performed slowly and carefully. This strengthens the centre of the body, improves posture and promotes mobility.
Chinese Qi Gong uses flowing movements to stimulate the flow of energy and the metabolism. Chinese medicine is based on the assumption that life energy flows through various pathways (meridians), which can also be blocked and this in turn leads to illness. Qi Gong supports the flow of these meridians. Qi Gong exercises strengthen the organs and nerves, relax and build up strength.
Also very harmonious and flowing is Tai Chi, which consists of elements of martial arts and gymnastics as well as breathing and meditation exercises. Here, the practitioner learns to feel his body more and literally return to his center. Tai Chi strengthens endurance, makes you fit and relaxed.
Which (Yoga) course is the right one?
There are dozens of yoga styles that offer something for everyone: Fitness, relaxation, spirituality, meditative moments, vitality, more strength and a better body feeling. But Tai Chi, Qi Gong and Pilates are also attractive sports that bring body and mind into balance. Just try out what you like best!
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Picture: istockphoto.com | Pinkypills