Different Styles of Yoga
Over time many different schools of yoga were formed many of which ended up here in the West. Some of these schools are Ashtanga, Bikram, Iyengar, Kundalini, Sivananda, Satyananda, Viniyoga. Even though different schools have different styles of teaching and lay different emphasis, they are all founded upon the same principles. These principles seek to create inner balance, bringing us closer to our true nature.
Some yoga styles put emphasis on breathing, while others look at precise alignment of the body in postures. Trying out a few different classes to find the right style and the right teacher is a good idea.
A brief overview of the styles mentioned above:
Ashtanga: suitable for those who want a serious workout, consists of six sequences of postures, jumping into and out of the poses.
Bikram: performed in a heated room up 100◦ Fahrenheit. This style consists of 26 postures, each one practised twice.
Iyengar: founded by B.K.S. Iyengar focuses on precise alignment of the body in the poses, using specialized yoga props where necessary.
Kundalini Yoga: aims to release the kundalini energy (serpent power) found at the base of the spine. It consists of classic poses, chanting, breathing and meditation with more emphasis on chanting and breathing.
Sivananda Yoga view
Satyananda Yoga:- is a classical yoga using a combination of postures, breathing and relaxation.
Viniyoga is designed to suit the individual’s specific needs, resulting in healing, flexibility, strengthening of the joints and an overall sense of well being. It was developed by T.K.V. Desikachar, son of Sri T. Krishnamacharya, the teacher of well known yoga masters B.K.S. Iyengar, K. Pattabhi Jois (founder of Astanga yoga) and Indra Devi.
For further information on styles of yoga go to:
“There is something beyond the mind. This is the Self, the consciousness. We should not only have a thorough knowledge of western science and psychology, but should also combine it with Raja Yoga and spirituality.”
Sivananda yoga was developed by Swami Sivananda and brought to the west by Swami Vishnu-devananda, who wrote one of the contemporary yoga classics “The complete illustrated book of yoga”. His book was first published in 1960 and is still one of the best introductions to yoga available today.
This style of yoga is a classical structured yoga which uses a combination of relaxation, breathing and postures. It also puts importance on diet, positive thinking and meditation. Sivananda yoga consists of twelve basic yoga poses, designed to increase strength and flexibility and to improve the sitting position for longer meditations. These poses are practised in a sequence, stimulating energy centers in the body from the head down. The twelve basic poses are covered in a beginner’s class. As the student advances, variations of the twelve poses are covered as well as more advanced breathing techniques. Sivananda yoga is quite a dynamic yoga giving the body a complete workout with short relaxations between poses.
Born in south India in 1887, Swami Sivananda’s driving force, even as a young man was the service of humanity. For this reason, he became a medical doctor. He served the poor in Malaysia for many years before renouncing the material world.
He returned to India and spent a year wandering before settling in Rishikesh (in the Himalayas) to do intense spiritual practices. For the next 7 years, Swami Sivananda spent most of his time in meditation. Yet even during this period he served the sick in a small medical clinic which he established. Slowly disciples started to gather around him. In 1936, the Divine Life Society was founded to disseminate spiritual knowledge. In 1948 the Yoga-Vedanta Forest Academy was organized. Dissemination of spiritual knowledge and training of people in Yoga and Vedanta were their aim and object. In 1953 he convened a world parliament of Religions. At one time in Swami Sivananda’s career he was an editor for a Health Journal and wrote extensively on health problems. He discovered that people needed the correct knowledge most of all. In his mission to share his knowledge and spread messages of love he wrote more than 300 books.
Swami Sivananda’s work is carried on by his many disciples who have traveled to all parts of the world. Swami Sivananda entered Mahasamadhi (left his physical body) on July 14, 1963.
“Yoga is restraining the activities of the mind.”
Raja Yoga Sutras
The History of Yoga
The oldest archaeological evidence of the existence of yoga is provided by a number of stone seals showing figures in yogic postures, thought to date from around 3000BC. Yoga is first mentioned in the Vedas, which is a vast collection of scriptures written over a long period of time, some of which date to 2500BC. The Upanishads form the latter half of the Veda scriptures and it is here the foundation of yoga teaching and Vedanta philosophy is outlined.
What is Yoga?
For many yoga means a series of postures (asanas) and breathing exercises (pranayama) which help to lift ones awareness by calming the mind and building physical stamina. While this is true, it is an incomplete picture. The word Yoga means, “joining” of mind, body and spirit. There are in fact 4 paths of yoga which when any one are studied and put into practice can lead to union of mind, body and spirit. While it is recommended to have knowledge of all four paths and indeed some overlap, it is advised to concentrate on one of these disciplines in your life. The yoga we in the west are most familiar with is a discipline of Raja yoga known as Hatha Yoga.
The 4 Paths of Yoga
Karma Yoga – yoga of action, selfless service
Bhakti Yoga – path of devotion, singing, chanting the lords name and prayer
Jnana Yoga – yoga of knowledge or wisdom, study of the self through the scriptures
Raja Yoga – science of physical and mental control
This is broken into 3 further subdivisions known as Mantra Yoga, Kundalini Yoga and Hatha Yoga.
The Five Points of Yoga
Hatha Yoga gives first attention to the physical body, which is a vehicle for the spirit. This system of yoga is a simple, natural programme involving five main principles.
1. Proper Exercise (Asanas)
2. Proper Breathing (Pranayama)
3. Proper Relaxation (Savasana)
4. Proper Diet (Vegetarian)
5. Positive Thinking and Meditation (Dhyana)
The Aim and Philosophy of Yoga
Yoga says that the truth can be experienced only when one transcends the senses, and when the mind and intellect cease to function. Beyond the ever-changing mind and intellect there is a changeless spirit which is unaffected by anything and this is accessible to each individual according to his/her stage of evolution.
Society has used the mind to create airplanes, cellphones etc. The yogis turned the mind within and learned to understand brainwaves and accomplished things such as telepathy and ultimately samadhi (supreme spirit or devine consciousness). Swami Sivananda
Finding the Right Yoga for You
Over time many different schools of yoga were formed many of which ended up here in the West. Some of these schools are Sivananda, Satyananda, Vinyasa, Kundalini, Iyengar, Bikram, Ashtanga etc, mostly named after their respective founders. Even though different schools have different styles of teaching and lay different emphasis, they are all founded upon the eight fold principles. Trying out a few different classes to find the right style and the right teacher for you is recommended.