Hatha Yoga is is an umbrella term that covers all of the traditions and styles of yoga that incorporate the physical practices and breath work as a doorway towards understanding our True Nature. 'Ha' means Sun and 'tha' means moon and so a physical yoga practice will offer a balance of both heating and cooling practices that aim to bring the practitioner back to a place of equilibrium and prepare the body for the more subtle practices of meditation.
Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga
In the lineage of Indian teacher Tirumalai Krishnamacharya (1888-1989) Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga is a breath focused, flowing practice that encourages a one-pointed focus and deep stillness in movement. Based on a set sequence of linked postures and traditionally held in a 'self-practice' setting, this approach allows for beginners and experienced yogis alike to breathe and move in a room together but at a pace and level which suits their individual needs. Ashtanga Vinyasa can also be learnt in a group led class situation and is a great way to build concentration, flexibility and strength.
The term 'Vinyasa' means 'to ease in and out' or flow from one posture to the next. This style of yoga was originally inspired by Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga but is not based on the set sequence of postures but perhaps more the general energetic structure of the Ashtanga tradition. It is a relatively fast paced and strenuous approach, creating a cleansing heat in the body.
Iyengar Yoga was developed by B.K.S. Iyengar – a style of hatha yoga that emphasises precision and sequencing of asana. Detailed alignment cues allow the practitioner to understand the physical actions required for an asana's maximum benefit while keeping him or her safe. For each class, teachers carefully select from the hundreds of available asanas and their variations and sequence them in a specific order. Simple props are often used to improve the understanding and awareness of the body, or to provide support to the less flexible or students with specific limitations. They also mean Iyengar yoga can be used therapeutically. Classes may be vigorous or restorative, flowing or with stillness, depending on the focus.
Satyananda Yoga is a gentle form of yoga suitable for all ages and levels of fitness. It is rooted in tradition but is also evolving, incorporating the learnings from current scientific research in order to meet the needs of today's society.
A typical class begins and ends by sitting still and becoming present. This is followed by asana (poses), and pranayama (breath), yoga nidra (relaxing body meditation lying down), and in some classes a meditation.
Restorative yoga is an approach that highlights the 'being' rather than 'doing' aspects of Yoga and focuses on allowing deep relaxation in long held and supported body shapes. It was inspired by Iyengar's use of props but then developed and crafted into a more feminine practice by Judith Lasater, one of his students. It has become a highly sought after practice suitable for all levels of students who are seeking downtime in the busy-ness of modern life.
Yoga Nidra and iRest
Yoga Nidra is the meditative heart of yoga. It usually involves lying down in a comfortable way whilst being guided through the layers of Being; the physical body, energetic body, emotional body, thoughts and beliefs as well as the body of joy. All of these changing states of our being are guided to rest as the unchanging aspect of our Wholeness begins to shine through. Deeply healing and restorative.
Yin yoga is a slow-paced style of yoga with postures, or asanas, that are held for longer periods of time—for beginners, it may range from 45 seconds to two minutes; more advanced practitioners may stay in one asana for five minutes or more. Yin yoga poses apply moderate stress to the connective tissues of the body—the tendons, fascia, and ligaments—with the aim of increasing circulation in the joints and improving flexibility. A more meditative approach to yoga, yin aims at cultivating awareness of inner silence, and bringing to light a universal, interconnecting quality.
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