Yoga Style Guide
Ananda Yoga is a classical style of hatha yoga that uses asana and pranayama to awaken, experience, and begin to control the subtle energies within oneself, especially the energies of the chakras. Its object is to use those energies to harmonize body, mind, and emotions, and above all to attune oneself with higher levels of awareness. One unique feature of this system is the use of silent affirmations while in the asanas as a means of working more directly and consciously with the subtle energies to achieve this attunement. Ananda Yoga is a relatively gentle, inward experience, not an athletic or aerobic practice. It was developed by Swami Kriyananda, a direct disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda, author of the spiritual classic, Autobiography of a Yogi.
Anusara (a-nu-SAR-a) means, “to step into the current of Divine Will”, “following your heart”, “flowing with Grace”, “to move with the current of divine will.” A new style developed by John Friend, Anusara yoga is described as heart-oriented, spiritually inspiring, yet grounded in a deep knowledge of outer and inner body alignment. Each student’s various abilities and limitations are deeply respected and honored.
For those who want a serious workout, Ashtanga may be the perfect yoga. Developed by K. Pattabhi Jois, Ashtanga is physically demanding. Participants move through a series of flows, jumping from one posture to another to build strength, flexibility and stamina. It’s not for beginners or anyone who’s been taking a leisurely approach to fitness. The so-called Power Yoga is based on Ashtanga.
Bikram Choudhury’s yoga is hot, hot, hot, so be prepared to sweat, sweat, sweat. In class, they crank the thermostat up high, then perform a series of 26 asanas designed to “scientifically” warm and stretch muscles, ligaments and tendons. FounderBikram Choudhury studied yoga with Bishnu Ghosh, brother of Paramahansa Yogananda.
Developed by Swami Satchidananda, the man who taught the crowds at the original Woodstock to chant “Om,” Integral classes put almost as much emphasis on pranayama and meditation as they do on postures. Integral yoga is used by Dr. Dean Ornish in his groundbreaking work on reversing heart disease.
Ever think standing was just a matter of keeping your body on top of your legs? It’s hard to appreciate how involved a simple thing like just standing can be, how much concentration and how many subtle movements and adjustment it takes, until you take an Iyenger yoga class. Of course the point is that your not just standing. You are doing Tadasana, Mountain pose, and in yoga in the style of B.K.S. Iyengar, Tadasana is an active pose. B.K.S Iyengar is one of the best-known yoga teachers and creator of one of the most popular style of yoga in the world. His style of yoga is noted for great attention to detail and precise alignment of posture, as well as the use of props suck as blocks and belts. No doubt part of Iyengar's success is die to the quality of teachers, who must complete a rigorous 2- 5 year training program for certification.
As a path to enlightenment through compassion for all beings, Jivamukti Yoga is grounded in the original meaning of the Sanskrit word asana as “seat, connection” - relationship to the Earth. Earth implies all of life. Citing Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, which states that asana should be sthira and sukham, Jivamukti Yoga maintains that one’s relationship to others (asana) should be mutually beneficial and come from a consistent (sthira) place of joy and happiness (sukham).
Called the yoga of consciousness, Kripalu puts great emphasis on proper breath, alignment, coordinating breath and movement, and “honoring the wisdom of the body” — you work according to the limits of your individual flexibility and strength. Alignment follows awareness. Students learn to focus on the physical and psychological reactions caused by various postures to develop their awareness of mind, body, emotion and spirit. There are three stages in Kripalu yoga. Stage One focuses on learning the postures and exploring your bodies abilities. Stage Two involves holding the postures for an extended time, developing concentration and inner awareness. Stage Three is like a meditation in motion in which the movement from one posture to another arises unconsciously and spontaneously.
Kundalini yoga in the tradition of Yogi Bhajan, who brought the style to the West in 1969, focuses on the controlled release of Kundalini energy. The practice involves classic poses, breath, coordination of breath and movement, meditation.
Sivananda is one of the world’s largest schools of yoga. Developed by Vishnu-devananda and named for his teacher, Sivananda yoga follows a set structure that includes pranayama, classic asanas, and relaxation. Vishnu-devananda wrote one of the contemporary yoga classics, The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga. First published in 1960, the book is still one of the best introductions to yoga available.
Viniyoga is not so much a style as it is a methodology for developing practices for individual conditions and purposes. This is the approach developed by Sri. T. Krishnamacharya, teacher of well-known contemporary masters B.K.S. Iyengar, K. Pattabhi Jois and Indra Devi, and continued by his son, T.K.V. Desikachar. Key characteristic of the asana practice are the careful integration of the flow of breath with movement of the spine, with sequencing, adaptations and intensity dependent upon the overall context and goals. Function is stressed over form. Practices may also include pranayama, meditation, reflection, study and other classic elements. Personal practices are taught privately. Given the scope of practice, the inherent therapeutic applications and the heritage of the lineage, the training requirements for teacher certification are extensive.
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