The Different Styles of Hatha Yoga
Yoga continues to strengthen through the years to meet the needs of every individual – from self-realization to the Curing of Various Ailments. Hatha Yoga is the branch of Yoga that focuses on the physical well-being of a person and believes that the body is the vehicle of the spirit. A lot of different Yoga Styles rooted in Hatha Yoga. All these styles aim to balance the mind, the body, and the spirit through the Asanas or poses; however, the emphasis varies. Some put emphasis on the strict alignment of the body while some focuses on the coordination of breath and movement.
All these Yoga Styles have common roots. In fact, the founders of three major styles — Astanga, Iyengar, and Viniyoga — were all students of Krishnamacharya, a famous teacher at the Yoga Institute at the Mysore Palace in India. Two other styles, Integral and Sivananda, were created by disciples of the famous guru Sivananda. No style is better than the other. The Style you use is a matter of personal preference or a matter of need.
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 and spiritually inspiring, yet grounded in a deep knowledge of outer and inner body alignment. It is a combination of Hatha Yoga and biochemical principles. Each student’s various abilities and limitations are deeply respected and honored. In practicing Anasura Yoga, you must keep your heart open and flow with grace as you do the postures. Anasura Yoga practice is based on three principles: attitude, action, and alignment, making it different from Hatha Yoga.
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 in order to build strength, flexibility, and stamina. It is not for beginners or anyone who’s been taking a leisurely approach to fitness. Ashtanga Yoga Practice involves performing challenging sequences of poses with Ujjayi Breathing and vinyasas (a flow of postures). This Yoga Style uses a system based on six series of increasing difficulty. Ashtanga Yoga practice will help you achieve increased strength, flexibility, and stamina. The so-called Power Yoga is based on Ashtanga.
Bikram Yoga is named after its founder – Bikram Choudhury, who studied Yoga with Bishnu Ghosh, brother of Paramahansa Yogananda. Bikram Choudhury’s Yoga is practiced in a room with a temperature of up to 100 degrees, thus be prepared to sweat a lot. Bikram Yoga enthusiasts crank the thermostat to a high temperature then perform a series of 26 Asanas. Each posture is usually performed twice and held for a certain period of time. Their Yoga Sessions start from Standing Postures, then the Backbends, Forward Bends, and Twists. The poses are accompanied by Kapalabhati Breath or the “breath of fire”.
Bikram Yoga is designed to “scientifically” warm and stretch muscles, ligaments, and tendons in the order in which they should be stretched. The practice of this Style of Yoga promotes the cleansing of the body, release of toxins, and utmost flexibility. Bikram Yoga may be practiced by people who are already in good shape and even those who are suffering from any chronic ailment, however, you should ask for your physician’s advice before getting involved in any exercise activity.
Integral Yoga puts equal emphasis on the Pranayama (Breathing Control), on Meditation, and on the Asanas (Physical Poses). This Style of Yoga was developed by Swami Satchidananda, the man who introduced chanting to the crowd of the original Woodstock. Integral Yoga is also used for therapeutic purposes; in fact, Dr. Dean Ornish who is Swami Satchidananda’s student used Integral Yoga in his groundbreaking work on curing Heart Disease. The practice of Integral Yoga revolves around eight main goals: 1. Physical Health and strength; 2. control over all senses; 3. clear, calm, and well-disciplined mind; 4. higher level of intellect; 5. strong and pliable will; 6. love and compassion; 7. the purer ego, and; 8. ultimate peace and joy.
Iyengar Yoga was named after B.K.S. Iyengar is one of the best-known Yoga teachers and is also the creator of the most popular styles of Yoga in the world. Iyengar’s style is noted for great attention to detail and precise alignment of postures, he also popularized the use of Yoga Props such as blocks and belts. This great attention to detail, posture, and alignment has also become the notable characteristics of Iyengar Yoga.
The Yoga Poses are held longer and repeated several times, only when one achieved a certain level of mastery of these poses can he move to Pranayama. The props help Iyengar Yogis to achieve the best possible pose, it also provides support and minimizes the risk of getting injured. One of the most popular poses in Iyengar Yoga is the Tadasana or the Mountain Pose. Part of Iyengar’s success may be attributed to the quality of teachers who must complete a rigorous 2-5 year training program for certification.
Kali Ray Tri Yoga
Kali Ray Triyoga was founded by Kali Ray. This Style of Yoga brings Posture, Breath, and Focus together to create dynamic and intuitive flows. The Tri Yoga exercises combine flowing and sustained postures following a spinal wavelike movement, the economy of motion, and synchronized breath and mudra. The flows are arranged by level and can be as gentle or as challenging as desired. Students may progress from basic to advance as they increase their flexibility, strength, endurance, and knowledge of the flows.
Kripalu Yoga is also called the Yoga of consciousness. Kripalu puts great emphasis on Proper Breath, alignment, coordination of breath and movement, and “honouring 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, proper breathing, and exploring your body’s abilities. Stage Two involves holding the postures for an extended time, developing concentration and awareness of your thoughts and emotions. Stage Three is like Meditation in motion in which the movement from one posture to another arises unconsciously and spontaneously while you are in a meditative state.