Choosing a Style of Yoga to Practice (Part 2)
It is said that a yogic pose begins when the practitioner is ready to leave it. What this means is that when the body gets restless, it is time to focus the mind on holding the pose because the ability to focus the mind is what yoga is all about.
Yoga is a great way to look after one’s body. After all, without the body, we would have nowhere on earth to live. Continuing the yoga styles:
5. Iyengar style yoga is a form of Hatha Yoga that focuses on perfectly aligned posture in the asanas and pranayama resulting in the development of core strength, flexibility, and steadiness. B.K.S. Iyengar has incorporated over 200 asanas and more than 14 (with variations) diverse types of pranayama into Iyengar yoga that move from easy asanas to more advanced ones. The objective of Iyengar yoga is the development of the mind, body, and spirit connection.
Iyengar yoga is also known for its use of props to aid in achieving the more difficult asanas such as blocks, blankets and belts. These props are designed to minimize the risk of becoming injured or creating a strain on the body of practitioners.
6. Jivamukti style yoga is probably what people who think of yoga as a religion are thinking of, because it combines a very energetic version of the physical aspect of Hatha Yoga with spiritual observances and ethics and morality. Sharon Gannon, and dancer and musician, and David Life, a café owner and artist, created Jivamukti yoga in 1984, and its adherents believe in five tenets:
a. Shastra, which means adherence to yogic scripture
b. Bhakti, which denotes devotion to Divine Spirit as it is described in all religions
c. Ahimsa, connoting non-violence and a belief in harming no one
d. Nada, the ability to be lifted into a higher state of consciousness via music and other vibrations
e. Dhyana, daily meditation that encourages the stillness of mind that allows practitioners to separate from their thoughts and realize they are greater than their thoughts.
Other beliefs that are highlighted in Jivamukti yoga include veganism, environmental consciousness, and advocacy for animal rights and social causes.
7. Kripalu yoga, a form of hatha Yoga, came into being in 1965 when Amrit Desai created it to train yoga teachers in Pennsylvania. Desai, an emigrant from India who studied under Sri Swami Kripalvananda, named this style of yoga for the Swami.
Kripalu Yoga’s emphasis is on inner focus via meditation to achieve a quiet mind, yoga asanas, pranayama, the flow of the life force, or prana, throughout the body, non-judgmental acceptance of one’s self with compassion, and relaxation.
8. Kundalini yoga, or Laya yoga, focuses on awakening the kundalini energy within and moving it to the Sahasrara Chakra that lies at the top of the head. Kundalini is the primal energy located at the spine’s base, and when it moves up to the Sahasrara Chakra, one is supposed to reach spiritual enlightenment. The concept has been known and practiced since 9 BCE.
The two methods of Kundalini awakening are active and passive. In the active method asanas, pranayama, and meditation take place guided by a teacher. The passive method involves consciously surrendering all physical and mental blocks to the awakening of the Kundalini. A person’s Kundalini can be awakened by some else who has already had their Kundalini awakened, but this is a temporary experience.
As you can see, there are a wide variety of yogic practices. Read about more of them in Part 3.
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