Power yoga follows two schools of thought. One is based on the principles of Ashtanga yoga, and its notable proponent is Bryan Kest, who studied under yogi Pattabhi Jois, the yoga master credited with introducing the eightfold path of Ashtanga yoga to Westerners in the 1970s. The other school of power yoga was developed by Baron Baptiste, who emphasizes the fitness aspect of yoga, rather than the contemplative element common in traditional yoga. Baptiste introduced power yoga to the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles as part of their conditioning program in the 1990s and incorporated the techniques of Vinyasa, or flow, yoga that uses breathwork to transition between poses. Read the rest of this entry
Ashtanga 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
Bikram 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.
Iyengar 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
Hatha 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:
- Yama, ethical values
- Niyama, ritual observance;
- Asanas, positions;
- Pranayama, regulated breathing,
- Pratyahara, inwardness
- Dharana, concentration;
- Dhyana, meditation
- Samadhi, self-realization
The 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.
According to WebMD, almost 11 million Americans practice yoga, so yoga is clearly not a passing fad. Yoga encourages a healthy lifestyle by incorporating the mind/body dynamic in its practice. The benefits of yoga include:
- increased flexibility,
- relaxation through meditation
- muscle tone and strength
- motor control and balance.
Yoga 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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When the beginning yoga or ayurvedic student asks the question, “How do ayurveda and yoga work together?” the answer may be as simple as considering how the two modalities complement and function seamlessly together. The principles of ayurveda incorporate the three doshas (or energies) that constitute the world around us, as well as our body types. By discovering which dosha governs your constitutional make-up, you can find a complementary form of yoga to harness that energy most effectively for an enhanced sense of well-being and then discover how both ayurveda and yoga work best together. Read the rest of this entry