Different Types of Yoga
Usually, when we think of yoga the first thing that comes to mind is a downward dog or warrior pose. But what exactly is that? Yoga is more of an umbrella term for the multiple types of practices stemming from different religions and cultural backgrounds. So, one might say they are an avid yoga student but have extremely different styles and techniques than you or I. Today, we’re going to take a look at some of the more well-known types of yoga, where they come from, and some of the practices that take place.
The practice of Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga originated in India in the 1930s and was taught by a Pattabhi Jois. Vinyasa yoga is all about building connections - to ourselves, others, the world around us. If there was just one word to describe Vinyasa, it would be Flow. The rise and fall of waves, the coming and going of seasons. It’s all connected in one large circle, and Vinyasa is just about finding your place in that cycle.
Vinyasa is a great tool that can be used to practice your breathing, becoming in tune with your body, and all the things that go on inside and around ourselves. The breeze on your face, the beating of your heart. Some might say certain yoga poses need to be practiced for Vinyasa, but honestly, it’s about the rhythm and flow more than it is about the semantics. Moving from a plank to a downward dog, to a lunge. Connection. Flow.
Hatha yoga can be traced back to as far as 5,000 years ago, as has been described as “consisting of eight limbs, or disciplines.” What are the eight limbs? yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi. These eight limbs are the basis of moral and ethical codes to help us live happier, fulfilling lives.
For example, Yamas focuses on how we relate to others, and Niyamas is how we relate to ourselves.
Hatha yoga helps us focus more on grounding ourselves and counteracting the negative aspects of our ever-changing world. Some Hatha yoga poses would include Tree pose, Bridge pose, and mountain pose.
Yin yoga was established a little later than the previous two practices, in the 1970s, by a martial arts expert by the name of Tao Yin. Yin yoga focuses on long, deep stretches and poses, targeting our connective tissues - ligaments, and joints. The practice of holding certain yoga poses for long periods of time isn’t a new idea, and has been practiced in China and Taiwan for centuries.
Of course, if you’ve heard of Yin you’re probably waiting for Yang. Yin and Yang are opposite but complementary forces, one cannot exist without the other. While Yin yoga focuses on connective tissues, Yang yoga targets the muscles.
In Yin yoga, there are four main principles to keep in mind.
- Setting your pace. Don’t rush from one pose to the next
- Stillness. Try not to shift too much once you relax into your chosen pose.
- Holding the position. When you first start, 1-2 minutes per pose is great, but once you get used to it, try and aim for 5 minutes or more.
- Release gently and slowly.