We all have a preferred style of yoga, whether it be vinyasa flow, a slower flow, restorative or hatha. Recently we returned from travelling where we practised aerial yoga for a week, as an inversion lover this was a great practice to deepen my love for being upside down. This week I will go through in greater detail some other forms of yoga which you may or may not have had the opportunity to practice.
Iyengar Yoga was developed by B.K.S. Iyengar, which aims to provide an understanding of the body by emphasising detail, precision and alignment in the performance of postures and breath control. The focus on this style of yoga is on the symmetry and alignment of the body, using props — such as straps, blankets, wooden blocks, and chairs — to achieve postures. Each pose is held for a longer amount of time than in most other yoga styles. The purpose of holding poses for an extended period of time is to enable the teacher to focus on the alignment of muscular-skeletal structure of the physical body.
Viniyoga is the legacy of the great guru Krishnamacharya, whose students included Pattabhi Jois and B.K.S. Iyengar, questionably the most prominent figures in yoga’s spreading to the west beginning in the 1970s. Viniyoga is an adaptive style of yoga, empowering students to transform their personal practice. This gentle form of flow yoga places great emphasis on the breath and coordinating breath with movement. It is based on the teacher/student model, in which an experienced teacher works individually with each student, making a personalised yoga program for them. Key factors are taken into account such as health, age, and physical condition including past or current injuries or illnesses. Viniyoga takes a holistic, therapeutic approach to teaching yoga to improve each student’s health and well-being. Unlike some styles of yoga, which have a set practice/sequence which is followed by all class participants, Viniyoga is not a standardised program.
Ashtanga Yoga is a method promoted by Guru Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. It offers a fast-paced series of sequential poses (asanas) generally in a well-heated room, which is linked together by breath and movement (vinyasa). In Ashtanga Yoga, students work through different series of asanas (postures) in sequential order, incorporating vinyasa (movement breathing system; one breath equals one movement), breath control and drishti, meaning gaze point, at their own pace. Ashtanga Yoga is different from many yoga classes in the West in that the order of asanas is completely predefined. A practice will comprise four main parts: an “opening sequence,” one of the six main “series”, a back-bending sequence, and a set of inverted asanas, referred to as the “finishing sequence.” The practice always ends with savasana.
Yin yoga is a slow, meditative, style of yoga with postures, or asanas, that are held for longer periods of time. There are two principles that differentiate yin practice from more yang approaches to yoga: holding poses for at least several minutes and stretching the connective tissue around a joint. To do the latter, the overlying muscles must be relaxed. If the muscles are tense, the connective tissue won’t receive the proper stress. You can demonstrate this by gently pulling on your right middle finger, first with your right hand tensed and then with the hand relaxed. When the hand is relaxed, you will feel a stretch in the joint where the finger joins the palm; the connective tissue that knits the bones together is stretching. When the hand is tensed, there will be little or no movement across this joint, but you will feel the muscles straining against the pull.