Yoga is a 5000-year old practice which is done by a lot of people. It continues to evolve through the years to meet the needs of every individual. Nowadays, there are different forms of Yoga. Though most styles have common roots, each has its own unique features. In this section, get familiar with the different Styles of Yoga:
 

The style that you do is a matter of preference or need. Just keep in mind that no matter what Yoga Style you want to pursue, make sure that you know its features and you have what it takes to practice that style.

Anusara Yoga

Anusara Yoga is to "follow your heart" began in 1997. Getting to the heart of yoga, Anusara incorporates creativity and the simplistic nature of the Divine in every Yoga Posture, or Pose, to bring balance and alignment. The principles of Anusara Yoga include: Attitude, Alignment, and Action. Anusara works for those seeking true compassion and devotion to living yoga in a good and true form.


 Anusara Yoga

Anusara (a-nu-sar-a), means “flowing with Grace,” “going with the flow,” “following your heart”. The style of Anusara yoga began in 1997 by John Friend.

By respecting individuals bodies, its capabilities and aspirations, one uses asana for alignment and balance. Anusara yoga philosophy is based upon the tantric bliss state, or highest element of consciousness. However, anusara takes this one step deeper, relating to this blissful essence within all life forms. The foundation of belief is that creation occurs from the delight and simplistic nature of the Divinity of the world.

The ideaology and base of practice of anusara yoga is rooted within the expression of creativity and devotion. It also derives from a partnership and understanding of nature, rather than a power over it, to emphasise spiritual intent. The drive of anusara is the foundation of goodness that exists within natural energy.

Classes incorporate 250 yoga asana, or yoga poses and employ the Universal Principles of Alignment. This includes the three A's, or Attitude, Alignment, and Action. Each class begins with a positive invocation and ends in Savasana. Practice of Anusara Yoga bring a greater sense of the individuals divine nature.

Ashtanga Yoga

Ashtanga Yoga is based from the Yoga Sutras discussing the Eight Limbs of Yoga Practice. Ashtanga is Raja Yoga and has branched into Power Yoga - a very cardiovascular type of yoga for weight-loss. Popular through the West, Ashtanga is a Yoga Exercise that cleanses the body of toxins and negative (or destructive) thought. The common Ashtanga Yoga Class is comprised of Yoga Breath and Vinyasa Yoga, combining flow of Yoga Poses.


Ashtanga Yoga

Astanga/Ashtanga is a very energetic form of yoga practice. Raja Yoga and Ashtanga Yoga share the same principles and ideology, called differently depending on location. Ashtanga yoga, or 'eight-limbs', refers to Patanjali's defined points or paths to greater purpose through yoga. Ashtanga has been popularized throughout the West for its cardiovascular appeal and properties useful for weight-loss. Defining points of astanga yoga practice include:

Vinyasa
Tristhana
Practice of the 8 Limbs of Yoga

This is a form of Raja yoga recorded by the sage Vamana Rishi in the Yoga Korunta and based on the teachings of Pattabhi Jois. Jois was a student of Krishnamacharya. Power Yoga is a derivative of Ashtanga. The method of thought is that sweat and heat produced by the fast-based flow combined with specific breath brings strength, endurance, flexibility, and health. The basis follows the philosophical eight limbs of purification.

Practice of Yama, Niyama, Asana and Pranayama brings an awareness and understanding of the six poisons that we all meet through living and reflect our psychological and emotional natures. They affect our heart and vital energies of the body and mind. These negatives are:

Kama (Desire)
Krodha (Anger)
Moha (Delusion)
Lobha (Greed)
Matsarya (Sloth)
Mada (Envy)

The cleansing process and effects of yoga open the heart and mind, eradicating the effects of negative impulses and factors.

A modern astanga session is built upon six primary series, called chikitsa, or therapy. These series correct our posture, realign our body structure, detoxify the systems of the body, and build strength. They also purify the nervouse system and cleanse the energy channels of our chakra system. This is all in the purpose of being in control of our own mind.

 

Vinyasa

This is the balance and synchronization of movement with breath. We are able to cleanse our body, mind, and nervous system by carrying an equal inhalation or exhalation with each movement. Some movements may be held for an entire breath, or more than five - it is a balance. This is combined with Ujjayi breath, the mixture of puraka and rechaka, or equal inhalation and exhalation. This is a recipe for heat and sweat, cleansing ourselves through conscious movement and breath.

For instance, one vinyasa is the movement from mountain to a standing forward bend. Exhalation. Rechaka. Vinyasa generates heat through increasing circulation for a natural detox and lubrication to the joints. We build strength, yet become supple and light.

 

Tristhana

During and in-between vinyasa, there are three points of focus that build concentration, coordination, and defines our action. These three are always practiced together. This brings about purification three-fold: of body, nervous system, and mind. These points include:

Technique of Breath
Dristhi, or Looking Point
Posture or Asana

Technique of Breath. Ujjayi is practiced during practice of Ashtanga, utilizing a steady balanced breath. This brings a steady pace and very conscious intent to each movement, building strength and endurance. Ujjayi creates heat, defines our internal fire, and strengthens our nervous system.

While our breath steadies our mind, we are able to fully study our self, and while controlling the flow of heat within our blood, we are able to study our passions, desires, and hindrances. It is through this self-study of niyama that we are able to fully understand and adjust our moral codes, or yama.

Bandhas are locks within the openings and cavities of our natural body that release our pranic energy. As prana is moved, it flows through energy channels within the energy field of the body called nadi. It is believed that there are 72,000 such channels within each of us which also connect the chakra system. Used in sensory awareness, nadis assist in our instinctive and empathic response. Control of breath and control of bandha are strong only when utilized together, bringing strength and benefit to asana practice.

Dristhi, or Looking Point. Bringing balance, focus, determination, and execution, dristhi is also plays an important role in practice for greater meditation and relaxation. This is significant towards the sixth and seventh limbs of astanga yoga, dharana and dhyana.

There are nine points of focus that we look to during practice. These include between the Eyebrows, the Feet, the Hands, the Navel, Nose, Right Side, Left Side, the Thumb(s), and Upwards.

 

Posture or Asana. By practicing asana, yoga postures, we set the foundation for strong bones, muscles, and systems of life. Proper asana is performed with a mixture of Dristhi and Tristhana. This brings control of the body, a cleansed nervous system, and clarity of mind.

 

Practice of the 8 Limbs of Yoga

The 8 Limbs, as described in our Yoga Philosophy section, consists of four external cleansing practices, which are correctable, and four internal cleansing practices, which are corrected through practice of Astanga.

1. Yama
2. Niyama

The first two limbs are recommended to be practiced only when the body is strong, where nothing conflicts any of the body's systems or is weakened. Yama, morality, and Niyama, self-study and cleansing, are the first steps in understanding the mind.

3. Asana
4. Pranayama

Asana, yoga posture, strengthens the body, preparing it for greater practice. Pranayama, or practice of the vital intake of subtle energies of inhalation, exhalation, and what lies between, solidifies the mind and directs our consciousness instinctively. Pranayama includes the three bandhas, which are muscle locks, within our body. These locks occur naturally and are utilized in pranayama study to control and direct our inner and outer energy. It is the foundation of a cleansed body and mind.

This is one piece of knowledge that Patanjali gained during his early practice of yoga.

5. Pratyahara
6. Dharana
7. Dhyana

Known as Sensory Control, Concentration, Meditation and Contemplation of Enlightenment are forms of yoga that lie within the mind, self, and spirit. It is the experienced yogi that approaches these limbs of yoga through proper practice of Asthanga Yoga.

Samadhi is the culmination of all the limbs in balanced practice and understanding to the higher level of consciousness that lies within the recesses of the soul.

Bikram Yoga

Bikram Yoga
Bikram Yoga consists of twenty-six yoga positions, or poses, at very steamy temperatures! Bikram Yoga is also known as Hot Yoga. Many students practice this style of yoga for weight loss, rather than total health.


 

Bikram Yoga

Bikram Yoga was started by Bikram Choudhury, who studied with the brother of Yogananda, Bishnu Gosh. Bikram, also called Hot Yoga, follows twenty-six specific asana in isolated areas brought to a steamy heat - eighty-five to up to one-hundred and fifteen degrees Fahrenheit to cleanse the physical self. The bikram yoga room is held at sixty percent humidity.

Yoga in conditions such as this may lead to the dangers of overstretching and ligament, joint, and muscle injury.

The heat used in hot yoga classes holds the purpose of relaxing the body to allow deeper asana challenges. A typical class is one that uses each pose twice, held for specific time periods. The same routine is used for every hot yoga class, or Bikram class, around the globe. This is accompanied by Kapalabhati, or Fire, Breath. The heat helps to develop greater willpower and discipline while increasing our metabolic rate, which induces weight loss. The severe downside of performing asana in a high-humidity intense heat is that once a muscle is stretched twenty-five percent greater than its resting length, it is easy to damage the muscle. The most common injuries are rotator cuff and knee cartilage tears when practicing hot yoga.

Heat applied to yoga stems from the ideology that heat improves circulation, which should scientifically warm muscles, ligaments, and tendons for stretching. Bikram himself had found yoga after a weightlifting injury to his knee kept him from walking. Yoga rebuilt his body and gave him a fresh outlook on wellness and health.

Hatha Yoga

Hatha Yoga
Hatha Yoga is the most popular type of yoga and is the father of many of forms, such as Ashtanga and Power Yoga. The benefits of hatha yoga include health of the organs and glands to bring stress relief and relaxation, as well as muscular tone and strength for greater physical stamina and endurance. Hatha asana and breath shifts Kundalini to bring total health and enlightenment.


Hatha Yoga

Hatha yoga is the most commonly practiced form of yoga in the world. The word itself, Ha-tha, combines ‘ha’, or “the breath of the sun”, which in Sanskrit, is called Prana. ‘Tha’, or “the breath of the moon”, is called Apana in Sanskrit. This connects the internal heating and cooling aspects to create balance for each individual. Hatha yoga is an ideal method of understanding your body and becoming aware of the natural energy that connects all life forms.

This form deals with the practice of asana for control and balance over the physical body through the mind. Hatha practice is performed as a step towards perfecting Raja Yoga.

Hatha is active, involving stamina, will power and life energy to propel the vehicle of the soul, or our physical being.
Hatha also combines the study of breath, Pranayama, and Meditation technique and has become one of the most popular and Westernized branches of yoga. It is a lifestyle and means to relieve mental, emotional and physical health ailments.

The elements of Hatha Yoga are comprised of:

- The position of the asana causes an increase in blood circulation to the specific target organ or gland.

- The position of the asana often produces a slight squeezing of the organ or gland. This has the effect of massaging the organ or gland and stimulating it.

- Deep breathing and visualizing the target area sends an extra supply of energy, or prana, to the area.


Kundalini is energy, or power, referred to as feminine that lies within all living animals. It is described as a serpent coiled at the base chakra of the spine, lying within the spinal column. This energy moves naturally with emotion, physical pressures, and of the mind of the yogi as one desires. The yogis use Kriyas, or mental, emotional, and physical cleansing systems. Kundalini moves within paths of the chakras and nadis leading the place behind the eyes, our 'third eye'. This area is described as a thousand-petalled Lotus, the Sahsarar, and is an area of the attainment of enlightenment.

Ashtanga, which is an eight-fold path to understand and live the concept of yoga is used in many forms of hatha yoga as a way of joining the soul and universal spirit; or the individual with the universal.

The routine practice of hatha yoga will bring stamina and endurance to the muscles, heart, and mind, coordination and balance, and increased longevity. Many benefits of hatha yoga that attract people include stress-relief, comfort and capabilities to deal with anxiety and depression, weight-loss properties, and mental stimulation.

Iyengar Yoga

Iyengar Yoga
Involving Yoga Pose, or Asana, and Pranayama, or Yoga Breath, Iyengar Yoga focuses on the anatomy of asana to prevent injury. Iyengar involves an intense Yoga Teacher Training. Yoga equipment is used during an Iyengar Yoga Class to support the asana and alignment.


 

Iyengar Yoga

As taught by BKS Iyengar, Iyengar yoga relies of the precision of body placement. Asanas are usually held in position longer during practice. The practice is dependent on the use of props, such as blocks, and/or straps.

Iyengar philosophy is heavily embedded in human kinesiology. Teacher training is an intense two to five year course.

Iyengar yoga is traditional in the sense of hatha principles of asana, pranayama, and astanga, or 'eight-limbs', refering to Patanjali's defined points or paths to greater purpose through yoga. Where the Iyengar style of yoga differs, however, is in within sequencing, technique, and timing.

Sequencing in the Iyengar tradition revolves around 200 classical asana. Emotions and mentality are developed by utilizing these asana, held for varying amounts of time with pranayama. Iyengar uses 14 types of breathing techniques.

Technique is all about precision in Iyengar yoga. Performing each asana is a meditation within itself by being aware of every part of the body, all active within each asana. Props are used for adjusments and alignment is upheld as the deep purpose within each yoga pose.

Timing of Iyengar poses is prolonged, taking the practicer beyond the physical effect, into the boundaries of our molecular individuality of spirituality and mentality.

Kriya Yoga
Kriya Yoga is a direct form of Yoga Therapy. Meaning 'action', Kriya cleanes the body. Kriya Yoga is a form for stress relief and purification of the body, mind, and emotions. Kriya has developed into many types of yoga.


 

Kriya Yoga

Kriya yoga upholds the conscious effort, or energy, put into the cleansing of the body's energy pathways for the purpose of awakening Kundalini energy. This refers to the vital energy lying within our chakra system. Kriya, which is defined as 'action, or deed' is used for technique and specific discipline of purification. This includes that of body, mind, and emotions to attain the greatest spiritual evolution in our lifetime. There are kriya's, or processes, that have developed into forms of hatha yoga. Kriya, however, varies widely between schools of yogic thought and teachings.

Yogananda is a popular Western yogi that retold this ancient form of kriya that was used by ancient priests of centuries past in India. These are the same teachings popularized throughout India by Babaji and Mahayasa. In speaking of kriya yoga, Yogananda inforces the importance of the energy within our personal body and that of the Cosmic Man. He wrote, "The Kriya Yogi mentally directs his life energy to revolve, upward and downward, around the six spinal centers (medullary, cervical, dorsal, lumbar, sacral, and coccygeal plexuses) which correspond to the twelve astral signs of the zodiac, the symbolic Cosmic Man. One-half minute of revolution of energy around the sensitive spinal cord of man effects subtle progress in his evolution; that half-minute of Kriya equals one year of natural spiritual unfoldment."

Integral Yoga

Integral Yoga
Get to know the Types of Yoga and their styles! Have you ever wondered how the Hatha Yoga you are learning differs from Bikram Yoga? Or how a class is given in Ashtanga Yoga? This section will shed some light on yoga styles around the globe and how they can benefit you and your personal path through yoga.


 

Integral Yoga

Integral yoga comes from the Sanskrit, 'Purna Yoga', which translates as 'full, or complete'. It is an integrative study from the Bhagavad Gita, which lays out the roots of bhakti, jnana, and karma yoga. What makes this form of yoga 'integral' is the idea of uniting tantra and vedanta. Combining the mind with the consciousness of man, we can attain a deep realization of who we are, direction, comfort, and awareness of the divine within all that is living. Let's look at a short breakdown of what this actually means and the concepts behind the words.

Tantra, translated as 'weave', brings focus to the physical. It is an awareness of our primal and instinctive energy - the base of our creative potential. Using the macrocosm of creative energy within our astronomical system, we are able to ritually move that energy through the microcosm of individual self. It is a conscious give and take, or accept and release, that creates a dualism of the inner balance of the individual with the accepted balance of nature.

Vedanta translates as 'knowledge-end', or the end of knowledge, merges the ideas of the eternal self, atman, and the Brahman, our supreme ground of which life may grow, stemmed from the ritual and philosophical ancient texts of the Vedas and Upanishads. In integral yoga, a synthesis is created among the internal individual and the internal nature of the DNA of living and creation. Through realization and enlightenment (samadhi), we are able to transform our primal and animalistic nature into something divine.

Are you thinking that this sounds too psychological for your own taste? Or maybe just like too many new-age terms when part of your mind is thinking about work, or picking up the children, or what will you make for dinner tonight when you just don't feel like cooking? Let's look at this logically, then.

As you prepare dinner for your family, you are not only fulfilling the primal need of food, but are also considering which foods can be placed together to create a balanced meal. You may consider the nutritional value of food combinations, where the best partnering of carbohydrates, protein and minerals can give you or those you love the best energy to realize their potential. The greater the value we place on what we intake into our bodies, the greater value we give to the functioning of our bodies, our minds, and our potential to create. When you are chopping those vegetables, you are taking from nature what can give those who eat them greater potential. This creates a balance
and a duality with the need to create (we grow the vegetables, we feed the body), the desire to sustain (we grow the vegetables, we cultivate the mind), and the necessity for destruction to create again (we pick and eat the vegetable, we process thoughts and eradicate bad habits and unhealthy patterns with ourselves).

Sri Aurobindo helped to develop this concept of yoga, and stating in one of his books, 'Synthesis of Yoga': "The process...accepts our nature...and compels all to undergo a divine change...In that ever progressive experience, we begin to perceive how this lower manifestation is constituted and that everything in it, however seemingly deformed or petty or vile, is the imperfect figure of some element in the divine nature."

Integral Yoga and Human Faculty

here is a distinguishing mark in the field of yoga to separate and understand what we are made of. We are not only matter and cells, nor are we a concept. We are a system and when one part of that system is unhealthy, there is effect in all parts because of the connection between them. This connection creates consciousness, therefore lays a consciousness beyond the Western use of the term. The basic three parts to our system includes: The Vital, The Physical, and The Mental Faculties.

The Physical Faculty

In Integral Yoga, we take our thought just beyond the physical body as purely made by what we eat. There is a mental connection, or consciousness, that expresses itself by our brain sending commands and we follow. As we follow a command, our minds will assess the situation - awareness of cause and effect of the command, judgement of that awareness, and execution. Emotions tie together our ebb and flow of mental and physical activity. Our instinct is to eat and as our physical self attains this, we feel pleasure and we feel full. Our emotions are signals to our mental activity, our thoughts. They give personal judgement to each situation and can lead us to our greatest achievements, or turn us away from our greatest love. We must be aware of our internal and external movement to learn and create a higher consciousness within. All of these aspects affect our energies. This energy extends beyond our skin to a field around us. Our Physical Self is our conscious and subconscious, our psychology, and the energy that we consist of.

The Vital Faculty

s individuals, we are each driven in different ways and in different directions. Individual passions, desires, fears and preferences. This is all part of our life-force and is included in the Vital Faculty of Integral Yoga. Our instinctive self, seated in the Navel, or Muladhara, Chakra. This is the place of our first connection to life, the umbilical cord, and is the emotional center of our body to bring balance or transformation. Another name that can be given to the Vital is the Will - that separation from the 'Divine' to 'I'. This consists of what we feel as semi-conscious sensations and desires to bring emotion and Life Intelligence.

The Mental Faculty

The mind is not our consciousness, nor is it our brain. However, it is cognitive and it is conceptual. Integral Yoga aims to create awareness of the mind; understanding to become Divine. The Mental Faculty is an abstract part of the brain that brings knowledge, discernment, reasoning and decision-making. Sri Aurobindo helps to define our Mental Faculty by integrating levels, which include:

Spiritual Mind - A general term for levels of mind above the normal mental level.

Higher Mind - First/ Lowest Spiritual Mental Grade - above the normal mental level.

Inner Mind - the mental component of the Inner Being, which lies behind the surface mind or ordinary consciousness and can only be directly experienced by sadhana.

True Mental Being - is the Purusha (Self) of the mental level freed from the error and ignorance of the lower Prakriti (Balance of the Universe) and open to the knowledge and guidance above.

Psychic Mind - a movement of the mind in which the Psychic Being predominates; the mind turned towards the Divine.

Mind Proper - The Thinking Mind, Dynamic Mind, and Externalizing Mind. It constitutes the sum of one's thoughts, opinions, ideas, and values, which guide conscious thinking, conceptualizing and decision-making processes, and is transformed, widened, and spiritualized through the practice of Integral Yoga.

Thinking Mind - the highest aspect of the mind proper, concerned with ideas and knowledge in their own right. It is equated with the Ajna Chakra.

Dynamic Mind - that aspect of the ordinary mind that puts out of mental forces for realization, acting by the idea and by reason. It is also equated with the Ajna or Brow center.

Externalizing Mind - the most "external" part of the mind proper, concerned with the expression of ideas in speech, in life, or in any form it can give. It is equated with the Vishuddha or Throat Chakra.

Vital Mind - a mediator between the vital emotions, desires, and so on the mental proper. It is limited by the vital view and feeling of things, and expresses the desires, feelings, ambitions, and other active tendencies of the vital in mental forms, such as daydreams and imaginations of greatness, happiness, and so on. As with the Externalizing Mind, Sri Aurobindo associates it with the Vishuddha or Throat Chakra.

Physical Mind - refers to either or both the Externalizing Mind and the Mental in the Physical; it is limited to a physical or materialistic perspective, and cannot go beyond that, unless enlightened from above. Mind in the physical or mental physical mentalises the experiences of outward life and things, sometimes very cleverly, but it does not go beyond that, unlike the externalizing mind which deals with these things from the perspective of reason and its own higher intelligence.

The Mechanical Mind - a much lower action of the mental physical which when left to itself can only repeat the same ideas and record the reflexes of the physical consciousness in its contact with outward life and things.

Mind of Light - according to The Mother this is the Physical Mind receiving the supramental light and thus being able to act directly in the Physical

Integral Yoga: A Relationship of Man, The Universe, and You

We are driven as humans. Driven by our needs and wants, our passions and crimes, our emotions and feeling. Yet, it is our spirit that hungers for connection and higher sources of power not derived from greed and capital gain. Yoga is a practice in which we use to find, but there is a term for this spiritual energy that hungers and that we all hold - often without thought or consciousness. This energy is called Sadhana. It is the directed energy of the spirit towards an intentional goal.

Yoga uses types of Sadhana such as asana study and practice, meditation, and chanting (or mantra). Two goals are inspirations during yoga practice and include: Moksha (liberation) or Mukti (release). Finding spiritual direction gives us conscious awareness of the inner workings of our beings and this awareness allows for deep spiritual awakening.

The Integration of Who We Are

Integral Yoga describes the trinity of the self as the Outer Being, the Inner Being, and the Psychic Being. The development and understanding of all three can bring transformation to the Outer Nature as well as a parallel transformation of the Physical, Vital, and Mental Faculties. The consciousness of the self, as it is developed, can bring a great comfort and peace to the individual in understanding what is Divine.

The Outer Being consists of the characteristics of our everyday existence, which includes aspects of the Physical, Vital, and Mental as well as the location of the Desire within.

The Inner Being holds the potential for spiritual awareness and can act as the 'spiritual guide' of our conscious. Integral Yoga holds unity of the self as the key to greater consciousness.

Sri Aurobindo describes this aspect of our being in 'Letters on Yoga':

" There are always two different consciousnesses in the human being, one outward in which he ordinarily lives, the other inward and concealed of which he knows nothing. When one does sadhana, the inner consciousness begins to open and one is able to go inside and have all kinds of experiences there. As the sadhana progresses, one begins to live more and more in this inner being and the outer becomes more and more superficial. At first the inner consciousness seems to be the dream and the outer the waking reality. Afterwards the inner consciousness becomes the reality and the outer is felt by many as a dream or delusion, or else as something superficial and external. The inner consciousness begins to be a place of deep peace, light, happiness, love, closeness to the Divine or the presence of the Divine, the Mother. One is then aware of two consciousnesses, the inner one and the outer which has to be changed into its counterpart and instrument-that also must become full of peace, light, union with the Divine. At present you are moving between the two and in this period all the feelings you have are quite natural. You must not be at all anxious about that, but wait for the full development of the inner consciousness in which you will be able to live."

What is known as the most essential aspect of Integral Yoga lies within the Psychic Being. As we develop our practice of gazing inwards at the habits and roots of our self, the natural course takes us to our psychic self. It is the connection between our inner mind and inner soul.

Sri Aurobindo describes this phenomena in the 'Synthesis of Yoga': 

"An integral method and an integral result. First, an integral realization of Divine Being; not only a realization of the One in its indistinguishable unity, but also in its multitude of aspects which are also necessary to the complete knowledge of it by the relative consciousness; not only realization of unity in the Self, but of unity in the infinite diversity of activities, worlds and creatures. Therefore, also, an integral liberation. Not only the freedom born of unbroken contact of the individual being in all its parts with the Divine, sayujyamukti, by which it becomes free even in its separation, even in the duality; not only the salokyalmukti by which the whole conscious existence dwells in the same status of being as the Divine, in the state of Sachchidananda; but also the acquisition of the divine nature by the transformation of this lower being into the human image of the divine, sadharmyamukti, and the complete and final release of all, the liberation of the consciousness from the transitory mould of the ego and its unification with the One Being, universal both in the world and the individual and transcendentally one both in the world and beyond all universe."

Kundalini Yoga

Kundalini Yoga
Kundalini Yoga places focus of instruction on awareness of the energy centers throughout the spine, or chakras. It is known as the Mother of Yoga Types. The combination of Yoga Asana, Yoga Pranayama, and Mantras stimulates the body's energy to transform the mind and emotions. Emphasis is placed on the Yoga Exercise of Breath control to bring control of the self, which is the benefit of Kundalini Yoga.


 

Kundalini Yoga

Kundalini Yoga uses Asana, or yoga poses, yoga breath, or Pranayama, and concentration and meditation to cleanse and manipulate the energy passages and nerve channels of the body towards mental and spiritual health. Kundalini is visualized as a serpent coiled at the base of the spine. In visualization, you will be able to see that a coiled serpent is the picture of potential energy, capability and agility. So is the energy within our energy centers called 'chakras'. Though the term is used in New Age lingo, it is a term that has existed for centuries meaning 'circle, wheel' describing the movement and flow of our personal psychic energy. This energy connects with our psychic field, referred to as the aura. Kundalini Yoga is the only type of yoga that makes reference to an eighth chakra, the aura.

Kundalini is a universal term and practice and is non-denominational. It is a practice of yoga exercise and meditation to strengthen our life force and combat disease and sickness. Introduced to the West in 1969, yoga chanting and Mantra was also introduced as a vehicle for higher being. Kundalini Yoga brings awareness to every individual of personal awareness and true ecstasy. 

Yoga practice of postures, meditation and breathing patterns create a pathway to creative potential. The chakra system along the spine is the center of mental function as well as our nervous sysem and can bring stress relief and increased concentration capacity and purpose.

Kundalini Yoga Practice is recommended to be followed with a guru to assist and guide the different sensations that are felt when stimulating the chakra system. When consciously practiced with good intention, the subtle energies of the body can bring mental clarity, open-mindedness, balanced mood and behavioral awareness.

Laughter Yoga

Laughter Yoga
Laughter is the best medicine! Laughter is seriously utilized and learned in this classically adapted Yoga Exercise of Laughing Yoga. For the most human form of yoga as stress relief and joy, laughter is an emotional outlet to achieve balance. Mind-body yoga begins with action, so laugh and let go of everyday stressors to dive into yoga practice!


Laughter Yoga

Laughter Yoga is a natural stress relief! Also known as Laughing Yoga, It is a yoga exercise for everyone, combining Laughter Yoga Instruction with Breathing Exercises with the health benefits of hearty laughter. Laughter fills the lungs and breath passages with new oxygen to help regulate blood pressure, boost the immune system, and elevate mood. Through breath, prana flows and lung capacity increases.

Laughter Yoga, you say? Seriously?

An Indian student of Yoga recognized the affects of proper breath and the medicinal value of types of laughter were very therapeutic. This Indian student was also a doctor by the name of Madan Kataria, who wrote "Laughter is the Best Medicine" for a medical journal.

Laugh for Health!

Benefits of Laughter (Laughing) Yoga include:
Self-Confidence Booster
Releases Stress-Related Hormones for Relaxation
Increases Oxygen for Stamina
Releases Endorphins - an Antidote for Psychosomatic Disorders
Internal Organ Massage
Assists Daily Coping Methods
Teaches How to Appreciate the 'Here and Now'
Relieves Tension and Painful Emotion (Anger, Boredom and Fear)
Reduces Snoring
Laughter Yoga Aims to Develop Joy!

What to Expect from a Laughter Yoga Class

A typical class lasts from twenty to thirty minutes offering a cadiovascular (not aerobic) exercise. You can, however, laugh too much - and yogis say 'No Strain, No Pain'! However, contraindications include:

Advanced (Bleeding) Piles
Hernia
Persistent Cough
Epilepsy
Heart Disease
High Blood Pressure
Incontinence of Urine
Psychiatric Disorders
Severe Backache

Nude Yoga

Nude Yoga
Nude Yoga is a type of yoga without the restriction of yoga clothing. It is a powerful mind-body yoga that aims to develop personal freedom and comfort. Naked Yoga can be useful by separating the physical self-conscious from the concentration of the mind while performing Yoga Poses, or positions. Simple to follow, just undress and enjoy the benefit of Nude Yoga - freedom!


 

Nude Yoga

Nude yoga, or Naked Yoga, is simply yoga practice without the 'hinderance' of yoga clothing. With the same benefits of yoga that a traditional class offers, such as Muscular Strength and Endurance, Stamina, Mental Clarity and Balance; Nude Yoga offers a new light on yoga and self-awareness and comfort. Nude Yoga is not a practice built for voyeurs, but as a comfortable environment towards inner peace.

Yoga is a study within the mind and body to achieve greater concentration and self-awareness. Practicioners should be aware of what to expect in a traditional yoga class and comfortable performing basic yoga positions, or asana, before attempting a group instruction of Nude Yoga. Some people are uncomfortable with the idea of yoga practice while nude, but as the saying goes: Don't put it down until you've tried it!

Yoga postures and exercises in a setting with natural light and circulation can be one of the most liberating - and comfortable! - points within your yoga practice. Comfort with our body is not easily achieved in our Western mentality, but it is not an impossibility. Nude, or Naked, Yoga is not about controversy and criticism, but as a modality to find self-worth beyone the physical form and inner awareness. When practiced with a mirror, you will also be able to better understand the function of asana as you will have opportunity to broaden your perspective!

Power Yoga

Power Yoga
Power Yoga is the Western version of the Indian Ashtanga Yoga. Power Yoga is based from the Yoga Sutras discussing the Eight Limbs of Yoga Practice interpreted by Sri Pattabhi Jois. Power Yoga is a type of Raja Yoga; a very cardiovascular type of yoga for weight-loss. Popular through the West, Power Yoga is a Yoga Exercise that cleanses the body of toxins and negative (or destructive) thought. The common Power Yoga Class is rigorous and challenging, comprised of Yoga Breath and Vinyasa Yoga, combining flow of Yoga Poses.


 

Power Yoga

Power Yoga is what the West has learned to call Ashtanga Yoga and is a very energetic form of yoga practice. The new name and reformatting of Ashtanga Yoga class made the type of yoga more accessible and brought yoga into fitness centers and gyms across America. Power Yoga was coined by Beryl Bender Birch and Bryan Kest, both who had studied with Ashtanga master Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. Raja Yoga and Power Yoga share the same principles and ideology, called differently depending on location. Ashtanga Yoga, or 'eight-limbs', refers to Patanjali's defined points or paths to greater purpose through yoga. Power Yoga has been popularized throughout the West for its cardiovascular appeal and properties useful for weight-loss. Defining points of Power Yoga yoga practice include:

Vinyasa
Tristhana
Practice of the 8 Limbs of Yoga

This is a form of Raja yoga recorded by the sage Vamana Rishi in the Yoga Korunta and based on the teachings of Pattabhi Jois. Jois was a student of Krishnamacharya. The method of thought is that sweat and heat produced by the fast-based flow combined with specific breath brings strength, endurance, flexibility, and health. The basis follows the philosophical eight limbs of purification.

Practice of Yama, Niyama, Asana and Pranayama brings an awareness and understanding of the six poisons that we all meet through living and reflect our psychological and emotional natures. They affect our heart and vital energies of the body and mind. These negatives are:

Kama (Desire)
Krodha (Anger)
Moha (Delusion)
Lobha (Greed)
Matsarya (Sloth)
Mada (Envy)

The cleansing process and effects of yoga open the heart and mind, eradicating the effects of negative impulses and factors.

A modern Power Yoga session does not necessary follow any doctrine of structure, but Asthanga is built upon six primary series, called chikitsa, or therapy. These series correct our posture, realign our body structure, detoxify the systems of the body, and build strength. They also purify the nervouse system and cleanse the energy channels of our chakra system. This is all in the purpose of being in control of our own mind.

Vinyasa

This is the balance and synchronization of movement with breath. We are able to cleanse our body, mind, and nervous system by carrying an equal inhalation or exhalation with each movement. Some movements may be held for an entire breath, or more than five - it is a balance. This is combined with Ujjayi breath, the mixture of puraka and rechaka, or equal inhalation and exhalation. This is a recipe for heat and sweat, cleansing ourselves through conscious movement and breath.

For instance, one vinyasa is the movement from mountain to a standing forward bend. Exhalation. Rechaka. Vinyasa generates heat through increasing circulation for a natural detox and lubrication to the joints. We build strength, yet become supple and light.

Tristhana

During and in-between vinyasa, there are three points of focus that build concentration, coordination, and defines our action. These three are always practiced together. This brings about purification three-fold: of body, nervous system, and mind. These points include:

Technique of Breath
Dristhi, or Looking Point
Posture or Asana

Technique of Breath. Ujjayi is practiced during practice of Power Yoga, utilizing a steady balanced breath. This brings a steady pace and very conscious intent to each movement, building strength and endurance. Ujjayi creates heat, defines our internal fire, and strengthens our nervous system.

While our breath steadies our mind, we are able to fully study our self, and while controlling the flow of heat within our blood, we are able to study our passions, desires, and hindrances. It is through this self-study of niyama that we are able to fully understand and adjust our moral codes, or yama.

Bandhas are locks within the openings and cavities of our natural body that release our pranic energy. As prana is moved, it flows through energy channels within the energy field of the body called nadi. It is believed that there are 72,000 such channels within each of us which also connect the chakra system. Used in sensory awareness, nadis assist in our instinctive and empathic response. Control of breath and control of bandha are strong only when utilized together, bringing strength and benefit to asana practice.

Dristhi, or Looking Point. Bringing balance, focus, determination, and execution, dristhi is also plays an important role in practice for greater meditation and relaxation. This is significant towards the sixth and seventh limbs of Power Yoga, dharana and dhyana.

There are nine points of focus that we look to during practice. These include between the Eyebrows, the Feet, the Hands, the Navel, Nose, Right Side, Left Side, the Thumb(s), and Upwards.

Posture or Asana. By practicing asana, yoga postures, we set the foundation for strong bones, muscles, and systems of life. Proper asana is performed with a mixture of Dristhi and Tristhana. This brings control of the body, a cleansed nervous system, and clarity of mind.

Practice of the 8 Limbs of Yoga

The 8 Limbs, as described in our Yoga Philosophy section, consists of four external cleansing practices, which are correctable, and four internal cleansing practices, which are corrected through practice of Power Yoga.

1. Yama
2. Niyama

The first two limbs are recommended to be practiced only when the body is strong, where nothing conflicts any of the body's systems or is weakened. Yama, morality, and Niyama, self-study and cleansing, are the first steps in understanding the mind.

3. Asana
4. Pranayama

Asana, yoga posture, strengthens the body, preparing it for greater practice. Pranayama, or practice of the vital intake of subtle energies of inhalation, exhalation, and what lies between, solidifies the mind and directs our consciousness instinctively. Pranayama includes the three bandhas, which are muscle locks, within our body. These locks occur naturally and are utilized in pranayama study to control and direct our inner and outer energy. It is the foundation of a cleansed body and mind.

This is one piece of knowledge that Patanjali gained during his early practice of yoga.

5. Pratyahara
6. Dharana
7. Dhyana

Known as Sensory Control, Concentration, Meditation and Contemplation of Enlightenment are forms of yoga that lie within the mind, self, and spirit. It is the experienced yogi that approaches these limbs of yoga through proper practice of Asthanga Yoga.

Samadhi is the culmination of all the limbs in balanced practice and understanding to the higher level of consciousness that lies within the recesses of the soul.

Sivananda Yoga

Sivananda Yoga
This type, Sivananda, offers yoga instruction uses yoga poses to achieve mental, physical and spiritual realization. It is a mind-body yoga designed to strengthen the muscles, create balance of the mind and open spiritual capacities. Asana, or yoga posture, is practiced in Sivananda Yoga for suppleness of the spine and, therefore, the mind! Sivananda offers International Yoga Teacher Training and Yoga Instruction.


 

Sivananda Yoga

Sivananda Yoga was made popular by Swami Sivananda and emphasizes complete yoga breathing and relaxation techniques as yoga therapy. Incorporating the Five Principles of Yoga: Proper Breath, Proper Asana (Exercise), Proper Relaxation (Savasana), Proper Diet (Vegetarianism), and Proper Meditation, Sivananda Yoga focuses on the complete being and living yoga. This does not mean that a practicioner needs to adhere to all of the principles strictly to practice Sivananda, but these are the guidelines to strive towards.

Sivananda Yoga offers Yoga Teacher Training in the Sivananda style. This was the first school in the West to offer such training. Relying on personal experience, teachers develop skills of discipline and become messengers of peace. Began in 1957, there are now over thirty International centers and ashrams of the Sivananda type of yoga.


What to Expect from a Sivananda Yoga Class

Traditionally, Sivananda Yoga classes last ninety minutes with flexibility. Emphasis is placed on Savasana, the Corpse Pose, and this is how a class begins. Breathing techniques, such as Kapalabhati are implemented using the Lotus posture and are accompanied with rounds of the Sun Salutation, Surya Namaskar. Twelve yoga postures, called asana, are generally used and include:

Headstand
Shoulderstand
Plough
Fish
Seated Forward Bend
Cobra
Locust
Bow
Spinal Twist
Crow Pose or Peacock Pose
Standing Forward Bend
Triangle

Final yoga relaxation commences the class in Savasana, or Corpse Pose.

"Yoga is a life of self-discipline. Yoga balances, harmonizes, purifies and strengthens the body, mind and soul. It shows the way to perfect health, perfect mind control and perfect peace with one's own Self, the world, nature and God."

- Swami Vishnu-devananda

Hot Yoga

Hot Yoga
Hot Yoga consists of twenty-six yoga positions, or poses, at very steamy temperatures! Hot Yoga is also known as Bikram Yoga. Many students practice this style of yoga for weight loss, rather than total health, and it is one of the most popular types of yoga in the Western world.


 

Hot Yoga

Hot Yoga is another name for Bikram Yoga that was made popular by Bikram Choudhury, who studied with the brother of Yogananda, Bishnu Gosh. Hot, also called Hot Yoga, follows twenty-six specific asana in isolated areas brought to a steamy heat - eighty-five to up to one-hundred and fifteen degrees Fahrenheit to cleanse the physical self. The Hot yoga room is held at sixty percent humidity.

Yoga in conditions such as this may lead to the dangers of overstretching and ligament, joint, and muscle injury.

The heat used in hot yoga classes holds the purpose of relaxing the body to allow deeper asana challenges. A typical class is one that uses each pose twice, held for specific time periods. The same routine is used for every hot yoga class, or Hot class, around the globe. This is accompanied by Kapalabhati, or Fire, Breath. The heat helps to develop greater willpower and discipline while increasing our metabolic rate, which induces weight loss. The severe downside of performing asana in a high-humidity intense heat is that once a muscle is stretched twenty-five percent greater than its resting length, it is easy to damage the muscle. The most common injuries are rotator cuff and knee cartilage tears when practicing hot yoga.

Heat applied to yoga stems from the ideology that heat improves circulation, which should scientifically warm muscles, ligaments, and tendons for stretching. Hot himself had found yoga after a weightlifting injury to his knee kept him from walking. Yoga rebuilt his body and gave him a fresh outlook on wellness and health.

Yoga Styles

Yoga Styles
Get to know the Types of Yoga and their styles! Have you ever wondered how the Hatha Yoga you are learning differs from Bikram Yoga? Or how a class is given in Ashtanga Yoga? This section will shed some light on yoga styles around the globe and how they can benefit you and your personal path through yoga.


 

Yoga Styles

Yoga is a complete science of life that originated in India many thousands of years ago. It is the oldest system of personal development in the world encompassing the entire body, mind and spirit. It is the union between a person's own consciousness and the universal consciousness. The ancient yogis had a profound understanding of man's essential nature and of what he needs to live in harmony with himself and his environment. They perceived the physical body as a vehicle, with the mind as driver, the soul as man's true identity, and action, emotion and intelligence as the three forces which pull the body-vehicle. 

Mind Body Soul Yoga is the yoga of balance. Taking into account the interrelationship between body and mind, the Yogis formulated a unique method for maintaining this balance - a method that combines all the movements you need for physical health with the Breathing and Meditation techniques that ensure peace of mind. 

The classical techniques of Yoga date back more than 5,000 years. In ancient times, the desire for greater personal freedom, Health and long life, and heightened self-understanding gave birth to this system of physical and mental exercise which has since spread throughout the world. The word Yoga means "to join or yoke together," and it brings the body and mind together into one harmonious experience. 

Yoga is a method of learning that aims to attain the unity of mind, body, and spirit through these three main Yoga structures: Exercise, Breathing, and Meditation. The exercises of Yoga are designed to put pressure on the Glandular Systems of the body, thereby increasing its efficiency and total health. The body is looked upon as the primary instrument that enables us to work and evolve in the world, a Yoga student; therefore, treats it with great care and respect. 

Pranayama, or Breathing Techniques are based on the concept that breath is the source of life in the body. Yoga students gently increase their breath control to improve the health and the function of both body and mind. These two systems prepare the body and mind for Meditation, making it easier for students to achieve a quiet mind and be free from everyday stress. Regular daily practice of all three parts of this structure of Yoga produce a clear, bright mind and a strong, capable body. 


Living Yoga
For the many reasons you may be finding yourself drawn to yoga, you will find as many to continue. Physical postures which keep the body lean and flexible. A mental quite to bring positive action. A will to float during times of downpour. Yoga teaches you discover your true nature, a healthy approach, empassioned spirit, and moderate path. Through the practice of toning and relaxing your body one listens with their mind. Yoga helps in realizing ones' self, in finding what one seeks - consciously or unconsciously. 

Hatha yoga is the most commonly practiced in the West. Developing a strong, healthy and flexible body is but one aspect of this ancient science. Yogis revere the body. However, they do this because they realize that a weak and tired body is a hindrance towards spiritual progress. By being mindful of their breathing while they practice the various postures, they train themselves to discipline their minds. By disciplining their minds, they are able to abide by the principles which Yoga stands for. First amongst these principles is "Ahimsa", or peacefulness in thought, deed, and action not only to other human beings, but also to all living creatures, and most importantly to our own selves. Remember this when you tend to push yourself into a forward bend! You will be able to do it over a period of time, just be easy on yourself.

Anyone can practice Yoga. You don't need any special equipment, clothing, or lessons; all you need is the will to pursue a healthier and happier lifestyle. The Yoga Postures and Asanas exercise every part of your body. The stretching involved helps in toning your muscles and joints, including your spine and your entire Skeletal System. Yoga not only facilitates in improving your body but also aids in keeping your Glands, Nerves and your other internal organs in radiant health. By releasing physical and Mental tension, you will liberate vast resources of energy. The Yogic Breathing Exercises known as Pranayama revitalize the body and help control the mind, leaving you calm and refreshed; combine this with the practice of positive thinking and Meditation, and the result will be increased clarity, mental power and concentration.

Namaste

 

Tantra Yoga

Tantra Yoga
Tantra Yoga is one of the most misunderstood forms of yoga today, often associated with sex yoga. Tantra uses mental and physical control, meditation, Mantras or chants, and social and personal observances to awaken Kundalini and transform that energy into divine awakening. Tantra is a means towards Personal and Cosmic Truth - it is a yoga for health of the mind and body. Tantra Yoga uses the elements to understand purification, holding the greatest wisdom in the connection of man and woman, partners in life.


 

Tantra Yoga

Tantra Yoga is a spiritually-based practice to balance the masculine and feminine aspects that we all share. The word tantra means "expansion." Our creative force has both feminine aspects as well as masculine, yet the aspect of focus in Tantric Yoga is Shakti (Sakti), the Cosmic Feminine. Shakti is a religious Hindu figure with a name that means 'energy, force'. She is a dynamic figure that represents beauty, courage and fertility. She represents aspects within all of us, male and female. Through the teachings of a Tantra Guru, it is the idea within Tantra Yoga to merge with this primordial energy through the channeling of our energy through the chakras.

Tantra Yoga is one of the most misunderstood forms of yoga today, often associated with sex yoga. It is also very abused by many misinformed students who dabble into the practice without education and a proper mentality and maturity. Tantra uses mental and physical control, meditation, Mantras or chants, and social and personal observances to awaken Kundalini and transform that energy into divine awakening. Tantra is a means towards Personal and Cosmic Truth - it is a yoga for health of the mind and body.

Tantra Yoga uses the elements to understand purification, holding the greatest wisdom in the connection of man and woman, partners in life. Using Tantric Yoga and the awareness of Kundalini energy and prana within the chakra system to seek and find connection with supreme living, deep purpose, and sensual-sexual awakening. The body is made of all Five Elements and Tantra Yoga is a means to dissolve the body of flesh to comprehend and keep the spiritual body divine. Meditative observances (Upachara) is defined as: Pasu (Animalistic), Divya (Divine), and Vira (Valorous). These include:

Asana (seating of the Devata)
Svagata (welcoming of the Devata)
Padya (water for washing the feet)
Arghya (water for ablution)
Achamana (water for sipping)
Madhuparka (honey, ghee, milk, and curd)
Snana (bath)
Vastra (cloth)
Abharana (jewels)
Gandha (perfume)
Pashpa (flowers)
Dhupa (incense)
Dipa (light)
Naivedya (food) and Tambulam (betel)
Nirajana (Arati)
Vandana (prostration and prayer)


The Pancha Tattvas (Panch Makaras)

The five makaras exist to take the ego away from the moment, control the self and emerse in Divinity. These are all represented by symbols of Food, Drink and Sex. Combined with Mantra, these makaras become sacred rite and a personal yoga practice.

Madira (Wine)
Maans (Meat)
Meena or Matsya (Fish)
Maithun (Sexual-Union)
Mudra (Sign-Symbol)

Madira (Wine)
Brahmsthhan sarojpatra lasita brahmandtripti prada….Ya shubhranshu kala sudhavigalita saa paanyogya sura!

Maans (Meat)
Kaam Krodh sulobh moh pashu kamshichhatva vivekasina….Maansam nirvishayam pratm sukhadam khadanti tesham budhaa

Meena or Matsya (Fish)
Ahamkaro dambho mada pishunata matsardwisham…shdetanminaan vai vaishya harjalen vidhritaan

Mudra (Sign)
Mudra (Mudraa) is gestures of the hands, expressions of pleasure. There are one-hundred and eight in total. Many yoga asana involve mudra as well as gestures of welcome, offering and thanks.

Maithun (Sexual-Union)
Kula Kundali Shakti Dehini Dehdharini…tathha shivasya samyogo maithunam parikirtittam