Posts Tagged ‘Bikram Yoga’

An Artistic yoga class in session
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By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

So you decided to take the plunge and try a yoga class. Then you find out that there are different kinds of yoga. How do you know what kind of yoga to take? And what if you are not flexible? Do not despair!  Yoga is really for people that are not flexible. Unfortunately, many yoga teachers or studios advertise their classes by showing a very highly trained yoga teacher doing an extremely advanced pose that few other people can do.  No worries, most beginning classes teach you simple poses to elongate your body and relax. “Pretzel” yoga is for the very very advanced, not the novice.

If you’ve tried a yoga class and found it either too difficult, too easy or too boring, it may not be yoga that’s the problem, it may  be  the type of yoga you tried or that particular teacher. (Think about it, if you get  a bad hair cut, do you think hair cuts are not for you or do you go to a different barber/hair dressor?!?)

So what type of yoga class should you attend?  Here are some tips from http://www.yoga.orz.nz:

Yoga Styles Overview

Iyengar – A softer -on-the-body classical style of yoga, Iyengar is perfect for beginners and those who haven’t exercised in a while. It uses props such as chairs, straps, blocks and pillows, and even sandbags, to compensate for a lack of flexibility, which is helpful for anyone with back or joint problems.

Iyengar is the most widely recognized approach to Hatha Yoga, it was created by B. K. S. Iyengar. Iyengar yoga is characterized by attention to detail within poses and the aid of the props. The props assist all sorts of people to be able to do the poses comfortably.

Each pose is held for a longer amount of time than in most other yoga styles, developing a state of focused calm. Benefits include toning muscles, eliminating tension and easing chronic pain.

Practicing Iyengar yoga will give you a good knowledge of classic yoga poses so that whatever other style you practice, you will have the basic fundamentals of how to do each posture. The teacher focuses on alignment and inner awareness.

Sue’s Note: Some Iyengar teachers tend to take a militaristic approach and may push your body beyond what you are capable of doing. Don’t let them! Many Iyengar teachers are wonderful and gentle. But if you find a teacher that is dogmatic in his/her approach or tells you to try a pose even if it hurts you, avoid this class and find someone that is more compassionate–or risk serious injury!

Ashtanga (Power Yoga) the preferred choice for athletes, Ashtanga yoga is light on meditation but heavy on developing strength and stamina. The poses are more difficult than those performed in other styles, students move quickly from one pose to another in an effort to build strength and flexibility.

This style is suitable for anyone in reasonable physical condition but should be avoided by those who are new to exercise. Even the “beginners” routines are a physically demanding workout.

Students move from one pose to another in a continual flow and combine the inhale and exhale of the breath with movements. This physically demanding yoga was developed to build strength, flexibility, and stamina.

The series of poses involves weaving in a combination of standing, seated, backbends, inversions, balancing, and twisting poses into sun salutation poses which include a standing forward bend, upward dog, downward dog, and other poses.

Sue’s Note: Ashtanga or “power” yoga is popular in the West.  Westerners tend to move at a hectic pace even in yoga. However, proper form is even more important when you move through poses quickly. Potential for injury or overstretching/tearing of ligaments is greater in the faster paced styles of yoga. Take care when you try this style of yoga and make sure your yoga teacher is aware of any injuries or limitations before the class begins.

Bikram done in a hot room that is 38C or higher (to replicate the temperature of yoga’s birthplace in India); this style of yoga focuses on 26 postures that are performed in a certain order. The exercises are very physical and the intensity is high.

The Bikram series is warm and stretches muscles, ligaments and tendons in the order in which they should be stretched. Heat and yoga makes for a tough workout. This style is recommended for yoga veterans and extremely fit individuals only.

Sue’s Note: If you have high blood pressure or tend to overheat easily, you may want to avoid Bikram yoga especially in summer heat!

Hatha: This mellow form of yoga focuses on simple poses that flow from one to the other at a very comfortable pace. Participants are encouraged to go at their own pace, taking time to focus on the breathing and meditation in their practice. This yoga is ideal for winding down at the end of a tough day.

Sue’s Note: Hatha yoga may feel too slow for you if you like fast paced moment and cardio classes. But be patient and let yourself be bored a bit sot hat you can take the time to learn the proper form for you poses. It’s also a  way to sneak a little relaxation into your hectic week.

Kundalini, which incorporates mantras (chanting), meditations, visualizations, and guided relaxation. It focuses on healing and “purifying” the mind, body, and emotions. Kundalini yoga is designed to activate the kundalini energy in the spine.

This is achieved with poses, breath control, chanting, and meditation. Kundalini yoga is beneficial in dealing with addictions, and many people find it a natural way of releasing endorphins just by breathing and doing the poses.

Kundalini yoga consists of poses combined with breath control, hand and finger gestures, body locks, chanting and meditation.

Kripalu, which is more spontaneous, flowing, and meditation orientated. Kripalu yoga starts with the first stage, postural alignment and intertwining of breath and movement, and the poses are held a short time.

The student progresses to the second stage with meditation included and poses held for longer. Finally, the practice of poses becomes a spontaneous dynamic movement. The essence of Kripalu yoga is experienced through a continuous flow of postures whilst meditating, for gentle yet dynamic yoga.

Sivananda Yoga has a series of 12 poses, with the Sun Salutation, breathing exercises, relaxation, and mantra chanting as the basis.

Viniyoga, a slower more individualized form of yoga. This form develops strength, balance and healing, make it ideal for beginners, seniors, people with chronic pain or who are in rehabilitation from injury or disease.

Read the entire article on Type of Yoga at http://www.yoga.org.nz here.

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