Hatha Yoga is the physical practice of posturing, designed to balance, align and integrate the internal energies of the body so one can reach a state of enlightenment. The most commonly known style, Hatha, is but one form of Yoga. Many other styles of Yoga practice exist, such as Yoga of service, devotion, sound, sight, knowledge and breath. All Yoga, when practiced regularly, will bring one to a place of inner peace and wholeness.
Yoga benefits many body systems:
Breathing techniques taught in Yoga practices are called Pranayama. Pranayama is the stretching out or regulation of the flow of the life force or prana – often thought of as the breath – through all the systems and parts. Pratyahara is a more refined practice – drawing the awareness away from the senses and directing it inward to the meditative state of consciousness. This, in turn, leads one to the state of ecstasy or Samadhi, the true goal of Yoga.
By stretching the muscles, you are working at the cellular level to reorganize the cells, lipids and proteins, so that calories are made accessible and can be burned. This organization on the cellular level helps the body operate at peak efficiency, which also leads to greater energy and stamina.
The “Hatha world” is made up of many variations. There is Hatha taught in the Traditional Indian fashion, using an Eastern approach with Indian names. There is Contemporary Hatha Yoga, developed to accommodate the tastes of Westerners. And then there are many crossovers between the two.
Most schools or instructors teach a particular method for approaching Hatha practice complete with their own set of rules, arrangement of poses and specific practices. The following are some of the more popular Hatha Yoga systems:
- Iyengar System places emphasis on the structure and alignment of a pose.
- Ashtanga System features vigorous movement practiced on the rhythm of the breath.
- Bikram’s Yoga promotes 26 Yoga poses practiced in a heated room to help stretch the body.
- Kali Ray TriYogaÒ blends Yoga mudras and poses done on the breath through specialized flows.
- Vini-Yoga, Kripalu Yoga, Integral Yoga, Sivananda Yoga and Power Yoga offer more variation of technique.
Local studios often provide other eclectic and unique styles developed and taught for years throughout the area. Some Yoga styles are more physical and vigorous – promoting strength, endurance and flexibility – while other styles promote relaxation of the mind through visualization, breathing and meditation techniques where the Yoga feels more restorative and meditative.
Yoga is best practiced under the guidance of a certified instructor, in comfortable clothes, in bare feet and on a mat with tools for support (like a block or strap) to either modify or intensify a move. Yoga enables you to identify and relieve stress. The poses take you through a full range of movement that stretches and benefits the body and mind. The practice of Yoga encourages you to release the body, control the mind and expand awareness so you can live more consciously and mindfully, creating a healthier and happier life.
Whether your Yoga teacher is a longtime practitioner or someone newly certified to the Yoga-teaching scene, you can bet they have been inspired to teach because they themselves have been deeply affected by their personal Yoga practice and want to share the gifts of Yoga with you. There is more Yoga happening in around the country than ever before and you should be able to find a form, style, teacher and method to accommodate your personality, learning style, age and body composition while receiving the benefits you want from a Yoga practice.
Yoga for seniors, kids, athletes, the physically challenged, pregnant women, for those in the office setting – you name it – there is Yoga for every body, occupation, situation and personality on this planet. Also, if it’s not out there yet, just wait; it will be soon. Yoga is the exercise for the 21st Century, so get practicing and help make this world a better place.
Created by living Yoga master BKS Iyengar, who is still healthy and vigorous, Iyengar Yoga starts with the physical body and works inward. Emphasis is placed on proper skeletal and energetic alignment, so the postures focus on balancing the structure through lengthening and strengthening muscles. The use of props – blankets, blocks or straps – allow every participant to experience the benefits, even before the body can support itself in the precise posture. As the body comes into equilibrium, a state of meditation occurs, whereby stress is released and a peaceful feeling fills any surroundings.
Bikram’s Beginning Hatha Yoga specializes in 26 postures scientifically designed to work synergistically and cumulatively, returning the body to a balanced state. It incorporates strength, challenge, gravity, balance and, most importantly, the tourniquet effect. that stretches, squeezes and massages of the internal organs. This helps the body operate at peak efficiency and also leads to greater energy and stamina.
Kali Ray TriYoga
International Yogini Kali Ray founded Kali Ray TriYoga. Ò The TriYoga Flows arose through inspiration, as did ancient Yoga. The Flows, an organized series of moving and sustained postures, synchronize the physical action to the breath. The wave-like spinal movements, the natural alignment within each posture and the connecting motion form the foundation of this unique Yoga method. The sequencing of the Flows, ranging from basic to advanced, make progressing through the levels safe and enjoyable.
Students reduce stress, tension and pain while prospering physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Uniting breath, mind and body, TriYoga will help connect with life’s energy flow and awaken the whole self to live in a state of relaxation.
Sources: Laura Fiedler-Ates, New Orleans LA; Radha Garcia, Boulder CO; David Pailet, New Orleans LA, author of Simple Sayings – My Toolbox for Living; Jeanne Ann Walter, Denver CO; Patricia Hansen, MA, Denver CO; and Bea Enright, Boulder CO.
Also see Ayurveda.
See CompWellness Network Practitioners/Businesses with Yoga as their primary modality.
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