April 2012

The Different Types of Traditional & Modern Yoga

By Jason Bell


On a seemingly increasing basis nowadays, many client's house hunting schedule is revolving not around children or work, but around their fitness classes. Both Tess and I have been hearing some weird words lately like YoPi, Ananda, Cy-Yo and others when women and men have called in a panic, apologizing profusely as to why they are running late and blaming it on their "Ashtanga" class, for example. As such, I decided to do a little research to determine why there seem to be so many different types of yoga, and why it makes some people so stressed about being late for meetings.


All yoga involves both body and mind and the same poses (asanas) but some practices are more vigorous, while others are more gentle and meditative. The terminology can be confusing, and today, classes are often a combination of traditional forms & new approaches. Here's a primer on the styles you may find at a local yoga studio or gym:


Ananda: Providing a tool for spiritual growth while releasing unwanted tensions, Ananda uses a series of gentle, controlled poses designed to move energy toward the brain for meditation, leading to inner awareness.


Anusara: The word means "follow your heart," and the heart is the focus of this gentle style, in which alignment and balance are key, but each student's level of ability respected.


Ashtanga: This non-stop, fast-paced yoga style includes specific sequences that increase in difficulty and are designed to build strength and stamina. These classes are often recommended for people with some familiarity of the basic postures. Power Yoga is a version of Ashtanga.


Bikram (also called Hot Yoga): Expect to sweat as the studio temperature pushes 100 degrees Fahrenheit  to mimic the climate in India, yoga's birthplace. The heat is supposed to remove toxins from the body and allow fresh blood and oxygen to circulate.


Cy-Yo: Typically, this is a one-hour workout combining 10 minutes of yoga, 40 minutes of speed cycling on a stationary bike, then 10 more minutes of yoga to cool down and refocus the mind. Cy-Yo workouts are starting to become popular in some health facilities, including Gold's Gyms.


Fitness Yoga: Incorporates traditional yoga poses in a fitness class. Students warm up, practice more strenuous postures and then cool down. The concept is to tone the body, especially the core, and increase flexibility, balance and mind-body awareness.


Integral: Used often in medical and wellness settings such as hospitals and rehabilitation centers, this healing-focused style employs gentle postures, guided imagery and breathing techniques.


Iyengar: Because proper alignment and body awareness is at the center of this style, assistance with getting into position is offered via props such as blocks, belts and blankets. Asanas are generally held for longer than in other styles.


Jivamukti: Highly meditative but also physically challenging, Jivamukti classes include chanting, meditation, readings, music and also incorporates backbends, inversions and standing poses.


Viniyoga: Flowing movements are similar to ashtanga, but done at a much slower pace and with bent knees to reduce stress on joints. This gentle practice incorporates asanas that are synchronized with breathing sequences and is considered ideal for beginners.


YogaFit: Workouts that merge traditional yoga with a variety of other activities, including strength training, core muscle building, and gluteal firming.


YoPi: A new trend in California, it combines Yoga and Pilates and according to one client here in Calgary, is "fantastic".


Compiled from Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance

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