Is yoga a bunch of people in funny orange robes? Is yoga when girls put themselves in really flexible positions on beaches and in waterfalls? yoga seems to have blown up in recent years, so let’s dive a bit deeper into what it is exactly…
Yoga has many components to the philosophy and theory. From a distance, it can seem overwhelming and mostly, very, very strange. Seeing the practice of chanting and mantras may cause people to be put off by the practice of yoga and the yogic life.
This is really unfortunate, as the yoga philosophy holds so much for those who embrace it. It is the embodiment of love, the practice of compassion towards others, and the eternal seeking of one’s purpose and meaning while embracing pure bliss and joy in life. It is amazing to continually practice to live in the moment, enjoy the breeze, cherish the flowers, while also understanding that all things are temporary and will perish, only to give way to more beautiful life later on in the journey.
One element of the yoga practice, and probably the most widely known and used by the western world is that of the physical practice of asanas or postures. There are a few different types of asana classes that are offered, so let’s delve into the meaning of each of them.
“Ha” means “sun” and “tha” means moon.
This asana practice is all about balance. The postures will combine masculine and feminine energy to create balance in the body. There is a contrast between light and dark, high energy and surrender, static and flow. These contrasts create harmony in the practice and within your own self. The strong poses will be matched with more gentle ones, and you, consequently, will be shown your weaknesses and your strengths.
Hatha yoga can involve many postures and they don’t necessarily need to flow. The poses are held for a longer period of time than during a practice such as Vinyasa.
This asana practice involves working each movement according to the breath. The instructor will tell you to take a specific amount of breaths during a pose (“Hold this posture for 4 breaths!”). The actual “vinyasa” flow involves 3 asanas – Chattaranga into Upward Facing Dog, and then back into Downward Facing Dog. From this vinyasa flow you will then jump or step into another pose, such as a Warrior or Pigeon etc. In this practice you will then see those three key asanas come up A LOT.
Vinyasa yoga is thus more demanding on the body and is a lot more of a faster pace than many of the other physical asana practices.
This is known to be the more stricter form of the asana practices. This practice will use the same series of movements for each of the classes. The emphasis is on correct form and flow and there is not much room for creativity. This is quite a masculine practice.
This practice counters Ashtanga in that it is the more feminine of the asana practices. This practice involves a lot of seated postures. Props and pillows are used as the body folds into an asana and then just surrenders. Postures can be held anywhere from 1 minute to 20 minutes!
There are a few other styles of the asana practices and it is important to find the one that suits your body. If you lean towards many masculine sports such as running or weights, maybe create more balance in your life with a more feminine asana practice such as Yin Yoga? We all need the balance of yin and yang in our lives and in our bodies, so ask yourself, where are you finding yours?
Have a great day. Lots of light and love xx