As someone who has loved and practiced yoga since 1998, I have a huge beef* with today’s mainstream yoga ‘industry’. (*with i’m sorry to the vegetarians and vegans out there)
My burgers is this: these days, several yoga studios pander to what’s in vogue and trendy, jumping on the bandwagon du jour to give their customers what they think they want.
Sadly, this seems to be at the expense of giving their customers something ‘different’, while schooling, informing and inspiring the yoga classes Parramatta ever-growing population of yogis and yoginis that there is a whole world of yoga out there beyond Hot Yoga, Ashtanga or Power Yoga.
I’m on a mission. And my mission is to help you identify if in fact you’re in a yoga trench; to help you break out of these trench; and shake things up by introducing you to a bright shiny world of yoga, beyond what you’re probably currently doing.
The experience/history with yoga started with my first Hatha class in 1998, in a non-descript little studio room in a suburban deprive shopping mall. Back then, yoga was still quite edge and not that ‘trendy’. The proprietor and teacher, a middle-aged Englishman who had clearly spent a large part of his younger years spending time with yogis and trainers in The indian subcontinent, gave me what I know now to be my solid foundation and unique love for yoga that continues to serve me today.
And over the past 15 years, I have tried many types of practice — Ashtanga, Kripalu, Iyengar, Regenerative, Bikram, Jivamukti, Anusara, Kundalini, Moksha, Power, and Yin — feeling a natural affinity for some… and a complete aversion to others (just because it’s yoga, doesn’t mean that it’s all great! )
I share this fact not to impress or dazzle you, but because I find myself that most yoginis (and yogis) today are doing themselves a huge disservice.
Yes, I’m thrilled that you’re practicing yoga, but are you stuck in a yoga trench?
Here are 5 easy questions to ask yourself to spot if you are.
Do you only ever go to Hot Yoga classes, or high-intensity Ashtanga, Power or Vinyasa classes?
Did you jump straight into the world of yoga through Hot Yoga without trying any other type of yoga beforehand?
Can you name 5 other different types of yoga? Have you tried more than one types?
Do you know how and when different types of yoga can benefit you (your mind, body and soul) and why?
Do you know finding these classes in your city?
Not only is variety the liven of life even in yoga, but banging up your regular routine and practice marvelous way to get in synchronize with what your mind/body/spirit needs on any given day, which is never going to function as the same from day to another location.
For instance, if you’re feeling sluggish, a vigorous Ashtanga or Vinyasa class is precisely what you ought to get your energy going.
In the Fall when it’s cold, windy and wet and you’re cooled to the bone, there’s nothing better than the warmth of a Moksha or Hot Yoga class.
And if you’re a driven, intense Type A personality and have just done a rigorous 60-minute spin class, the best thing for your body would be a gentle yet highly effective Regenerative class, or even a Hatha class, to gently stretch out parts of your muscles… and not a 75-minute Hot Yoga class!!
Don’t get me wrong. I love my Moksha (Hot Yoga) practice, but there are many days that, and in spite of living in a major urban center, I wish I had easier access to a Kripalu, Regenerative or wonderful ‘old school’ Hatha class when i felt like it, and within walking distance. Unfortunately, it all comes down to demand and supply. Fewer customers are clamoring for Kripalu, Hatha, Kundalini or Regenerative classes than they are for Hot Yoga or Ashtanga/Vinyasa/Power yoga classes.
So that you can help you break from your yoga trench, here’s the ‘playlist’ of 5 different types of yoga for you to explore and shake up your routine.
The key here is to try a different type of yoga class and see how it resonates with you, and then dancing, be sure you tune in as to the your mind/body/soul needs on any given day, by opting for one of these instead of doing the same-old-same-old type of class week after week, which not only puts repetitive action stress and strain on your muscles and joints, but also limits the magic and postiive impact of your yoga practice in your life, on and beyond the sleeping pad.
In times past, Hatha Yoga describes any of the physical practices of yoga. Today, a class marketed as Hatha generally means you will get a gentle, slow-paced introduction to the most basic yoga postures, with no flow between positions. You probably won’t build up a sweat in a Hatha yoga class, but you should end up leaving the class feeling longer, looser, and more relaxed. A Hatha class is a good destination for a learn beginners positions, relaxation techniques, and turn into comfortable with yoga in general. It incorporates foundational asanas (postures), pranayama (regulated breathing) and deep breathing.
Kripalu is called the yoga of consciousness. This gentle, introspective practice guides practitioners to hold positions to explore and release emotional and spiritual obstructions. Kripalu is 180° away from goal-oriented Power or Ashtanga practices. Determined is disheartened and precise positioning is not as important as with some other yoga traditions. There are three levels in Kripalu yoga. Stage One focuses on learning each position and exploring your own body’s abilities. Stage Two involves holding postures for an extended time, developing concentration and inner awareness. Stage Three is like a deep breathing in motion in which the movement from position to another arises instinctively and automatically. It’s simply blissful!
In a Regenerative yoga class, you’ll spend long periods of time lying on blocks, comforters and yoga bolsters in passive positions that allow parts of your muscles to relax. It’s a totally delicious way to way to melt away stress and ease frayed nerves, and is particularly highly beneficial if you’re coping with a personal injury or illness. Contrary to what you many think, these passive positions are extremely powerful and effective, and never having to have to put out the kind of effort you would in a different type of practice. That said, a good Regenerative class is more rejuvenating than the usual snooze. Studios often offer them on Friday nights. What better way to get rid of a stressful week and energize yourself for your weekend.
Yin yoga is a quiet, meditative yoga practice. It is also called Taoist yoga. Yin focuses on widening connective tissue and is meant to complement yang yogas (the more physically exerting muscle-forming Ashtanga, Vinyasa or Flow type practices) Yin positions are passive, but not just as as Regenerative yoga. With Yin, you’re supposed to relax muscles and let gravity do the work. Full disclosure: in Yin, you can expect to support the positions for a long time, 5 to 20 minutes in some cases. Not only does that induce space as well as restore and expand your mobility, but it’s a great chance to practice deep breathing and quieting the monkey mind. One of the amazing reasons for Yin yoga is that it enables you to release those deep, intense packages of tension that most of us hold in our key joints: ankles, joints, sides, the whole back, neck, and shoulder muscles. And the outcome is increased flexibility while appreciating your own body’s individual abilities.
Kundalini practice specializes in waking up the vitality at the base of the back and drawing it upward. In addition to postures, a typical class will also include chanting, deep breathing, and breathing exercises. What you can expect is constantly moving, invigorating positions. The fluidity of the practice is intended to push out a the Kundalini (serpent) energy in your body. Most people aren’t aware that they get it — that is, Kundalini energy. The easiest way to consider it is as an energy supply, coiled like a sleeping snake at the base of the back, waiting to be awakened and utilized. And the Kundalini practice aims to do just that — arise and heart a powerful prana/life force energy upward through the body. What you can expect from a Kundalini practice is an amazing yoga buzz, breathing that will skyrocket your time, and postures and deep breathing that will keep you grounded and focused. It’s more than just a great workout; it’s perfect for anyone seeking greater spiritual and mind/body awareness.