The word "yoga" derives from the
Sanskrit language and means "union."
Yoga benefits the body,
mind, and spirit by teaching self-control through a series of postures
and exercises called asanas, as well as through breathing, relaxation,
and meditation techniques.
Practicing yoga can also relieve
stress. The movement, breathing, and meditation of yoga result in relaxing
the body and quieting the mind. Many use yoga for that purpose alone. Yoga
can help prevent and treat a range of ailments.
There are several different branches
of yoga, known as "paths". The most popular Hatha yoga is a physical
discipline that focuses on asanas, or poses. Most yoga studios and fitness
clubs teach some type of Hatha yoga -- and there are many different types.
Ananda yoga: Ananda
means bliss, this branch of yoga focuses on the easy poses. This
gentle yoga developed by Swami Kriyananda, focuses on slow
stretches, flexibility, and deep breathing. It is easy, and natural,
to integrate the Ananda approach with other hatha yoga practices,
because it is just that: an approach.
Ashtanga yoga: Ashtanga
yoga is a vigorous, fast-paced yoga that helps to build flexibility,
strength, concentration, and stamina. When doing Ashtanga yoga, a
person moves quickly through a set of predetermined poses while
remaining focused on deep breathing.
Bikram yoga: Named
after Bikram Choudhary, Bikram yoga is also known as "Hot Yoga." It
is practiced in rooms that may be heated to more than 100 degrees
Fahrenheit (37.8 degrees Celsius).
Kundalini yoga uses poses, deep breathing and various other
breathing techniques, chanting, and meditation.
Kripala yoga: Kripala
Yoga blends postures with awareness, breath, relaxation and
meditation techniques to deliver you into the present moment.
Kripala yoga develops the. body, mind and spirit in a compassionate
Iyengar yoga: This type of yoga focuses on precise poses and
participants use benches, ropes, mats, blocks, and chairs. Special
emphasis is placed on holding certain postures for several minutes.
Power yoga: Similar
to Ashtanga yoga, this is also a very fast-paced form of yoga
that improves flexibility and stamina by completing poses. This type
of yoga involves vigorous workout to purify and strengthen the body.
A word to the wise
Almost anyone can benefit from the power of yoga, before you begin
any type of exercise program, it's a good idea to talk to your
doctor, especially if you have a health problem or pregnant. Also,
be sure to mention any orthopedic problems or special needs you may
have to your instructor before the class begins.