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.

Hatha Yoga

“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.

Vinyasa Yoga

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.

Ashtanga Yoga

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.

Yin Yoga

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

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1 Comment

  1. I really enjoyed the story of your trip to Bali. It gave me added excitement into my yoga practice hearing a little of what you went through within an intensive training. I particularly liked how you had to go deep within yourself, to your traumas and begin to work them out, even though you had thought you had fully dealt with them already.

    I also enjoyed this post because you did something that others haven’t been able to do for me. You gave a very simple, almost textbook, explanation of the different forms of yoga. A few others have tried to explain them to me and I thought it made sense. Your simple explanation caused me to easily see the practice that I myself had sort of formed for myself. A combination of Vinyasa and Yin yoga.

    I don’t use props but I enjoy going deep within some poses. Holding them and focusing on my breathing, almost meditating while feel the pose deeply. This has helped me a lot.

    I think Yin is good for me because I work a hard, physical job, very masculine, so this is a great balance. Yoga has helped me very much in my job. I believe it has prevented several injuries that I could have had if not for my daily, religious yoga practice.

    I really need to get more into the yoga meditation. I’ve never been a fan of meditation but, just like my practice in general, I could create a form of meditation that is a good fit for me. Maybe taking more time in Savasana and truly releasing after my practice. Because I mostly do my yoga before work, early in the morning before sunrise, I’m always afraid I will just fall asleep. Maybe I need to add a shorter after work practice that is based on very calm poses, more for meditation or simply letting go of the day.

    I hope to hear more about the spiritual aspects of yoga as well as other things. Your own personal stories of yoga and how it has affected your life. Again, I have read and heard many things about the spiritual aspects but, as with the different forms of yoga, I never fully got it until I read your simple explanation and maybe it’s the same with the spiritual aspects. Maybe just some simple, foundational things. Things that I might be able to build upon in my own way. I’m weird like that. I learn some things from others then I form them into my own. This works for me and keeps me growing in my own way. Maybe you’ve already written about these things and I missed them. It might be a good idea to check some of your past posts.

    Again, I truly enjoyed what your Bali story.

    Like

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