Author Archives: Michele

What is Kundalini Yoga?

What is Kundalini Yoga?

Kundalini YogaKundalini yoga is believed to be the pathway to enlightenment through accessing the energy (prana) from the sacrum or lower spinal area. By clearing the way for this energy through the asanas (postures), breathing techniques (pranayama), finger positions (mudras), chanting (mantras) and body locks (bandhas), the student of kundalini yoga can access this chakra, envisioned as a sleeping, coiled-up serpent, which allows for a greater consciousness and increased perception of the everyday world. Indeed, this serpent chakra has been called the primal life force that ultimately connects the individual to the universal.

Through kundalini yoga, the blockages in the way of accessing this energy are removed through kriyas. Kriyas can take the form of long, sounded-out chants that make the body vibrate while performing the asanas. Controlled and sustained breathing comes into play when performing the mantras. Accessing this energy, through kundalini yoga, also involves working with bandhas, some of which resemble kegel exercises that regulate urinary flow. The mudras, or finger positions, allow the student to sustain poses longer by holding onto the extremities, such as the toes, or lifting the body from the floor with the palms. Read the rest of this entry

What is Hot Yoga?

What is Hot Yoga?

Hot YogaBikram Hot yoga uses a series of 26 asanas, or poses, conducted in a studio with temperatures of up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit and was developed by yoga master Bikram Choudhury, who brought it to the U.S. in 1973. Hot yoga incorporates controlled breathing as students transition between poses to achieve flexibility and mental clarity. “Hot yoga” has become a generic term, and without the qualifier of “Bikram,” the class most likely is not taught by someone certified through Bikram’s school. Read the rest of this entry

What is Ashtanga Yoga?

What is Ashtanga Yoga?

Ashtanga YogaAshtanga yoga was developed by yoga master Sri K. Pattabhi Jois and incorporates regulated breathing in a series of asanas (positions) to raise the body’s core temperature, which releases toxins from the system. This technique enhances the body’s circulatory system, improves overall health and clears the mind.

Ashtanga yoga is based on the Yoga Korunta, an ancient text written by yogi Vamana Rishi. In 1927, Pattabhi Jois studied the text and, through his interpretation, began teaching its principles to students in 1948 at the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute. Ashtanga, or eight-limbed, yoga follows the eightfold path, which first appeared in the Yoga Sutras from the Classical period in the 1500s. Read the rest of this entry

What is Bikram Yoga?

What is Bikram Yoga?

Bikram YogaBikram yoga also goes by the misnomer of “hot yoga” although the two methods are performed differently yet both conducted in very high temperatures. Bikram yoga is performed with the strict 26 “asana” series of postures established by Bikram Choudhury while “hot yoga” uses the “vinyasa” technique that transitions the poses between breaths.

After suffering a debilitating knee injury in his teens, Bikram Choudhury, India’s ranking yoga champion, developed a program with guidance from his mentor, yogi Bishnu Ghosh, to resolve chronic pain and restore function to musculature. Bikram yoga is an ideal way to recover from sports injuries during the off season and promote healing and blood flow to chronic, aching areas of the body. Bikram yoga has a devoted following; and since 1974, yogi Choudhury’s studio in Beverly Hills has spawned a wave of certified practitioners of his method.

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What is Iyengar Yoga?

What is Iyengar Yoga?

Iyengar YogaIyengar yoga, founded by yogi B.K.S. Iyengar, incorporates the eight limbs (ashtanga) of yoga, along with the use of props, such as belts, blankets and wooden blocks, to allow beginning students to achieve correct positioning for performing the poses (asanas). All yoga practitioners strive to perform the postures properly, yet they may not be physically capable of doing so; therefore using some type of positioning device allows them to hopefully achieve that goal. This method of performing hatha, or forceful, yoga makes it accessible to all potential students and dispels the notion that only the young or very flexible can develop the muscle strength and positioning to take advantage of yoga’s benefits. B.K.S Iyengar grew up penniless and suffered poor health as a child. He was taken under the wing of Krishnamacharya, who is widely recognized as “the father of modern yoga” in the 20th century. His guru took pity on Iyengar and taught him a few asanas in the hopes of improving his health. However, Iyengar was given very little instruction in how to actually perform the poses. When his guru visited Iyengar’s school in 1961, he noted his student’s ability to show others how to perform the poses correctly and told him he needed to disseminate this knowledge worldwide. Iyengar had already worked with famed violinist Yehudi Menuhin in the 1950s and privately tutored him as he toured throughout Europe. This association is credited with popularizing Iyengar yoga worldwide. Read the rest of this entry

What is Hatha Yoga?

What is Hatha Yoga?

Hatha YogaHatha yoga, originally developed by Yogi Swatmarama during the Classical period in the 15th century, is based on the eightfold path codified in the Yoga Sutra. The eight limbs of this path consist of:

  1. Yama, ethical values
  2. Niyama, ritual observance;
  3. Asanas, positions;
  4. Pranayama, regulated breathing,
  5. Pratyahara, inwardness
  6. Dharana, concentration;
  7. Dhyana, meditation
  8. Samadhi, self-realization

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What is the History of Yoga?

What is the History of Yoga?

History of YogaThe history of yoga can be traced back to 3000 BC from stone tablets with identifiable poses depicted on them. Although yoga is primarily a self-focused discipline, historians believe its roots are grounded in shamanism and its community-based, Stone Age practices. The history of yoga is inextricably tied to the historical progression of the Indian religion and culture and can be divided into four movements: the Vedic, pre-Classical, Classical and post-Classical.

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What is Yoga?

What is Yoga?

What is YogaYoga is both a physical and a spiritual ritual used to increase the body’s flexibility while calming the mind. This mind/body duality is signified by the name itself: “yuj” is a Sanskrit verb meaning “to unite.” When Westerners consider what is yoga, they are generally thinking of Hatha yoga, which literally means “forceful” yoga and incorporates poses with regulated breathing. However, there are now a wide range of different disciplines that have grown more popular in the U.S., including “hot” yoga practiced in studios with temperatures up to 105 degrees. Despite the different techniques and names, yoga is fundamentally a way of treating the body with respect by listening to it through meditation, challenging it through the poses and using breathing to make everything come together.

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