Yoga is by definition an integrated discipline of physical, mental, and spiritual practices. Yoga was created in Ancient India. When a person practices yoga, they are attempting to attain a state of peace, tranquility, and spiritual insight called nirvana. Religions associated with the practice of yoga include Hinduism and Buddhism.
A yogi, or yogini, is a person who is committed to practice and follow yoga philosophies. The purposes of yoga vary greatly. There are forms of yoga that are believed to improve physical health, liberate the body and mind from the sufferings of this world, or to grant the yogi or yogini an eternal relationship with a higher power.
However, many people do not understand the spiritual side of yoga as it was intended in Ancient India. Today, western civilization is more familiar with yoga as it refers to physical exercise. There is an expansive list of different types of yoga exercise classes.
Vinyasa, also called Flow yoga, means "breath-synchronized movement" and the instructor will have the students move from one pose to the next in synch with an inhale or exhale. Vinyasa includes a variety of yoga classes that will almost always incorporate "Sun Salutations" which are a fast-paced series of yoga poses. The term "go through the vinyasa" means to do a series of three yoga poses (plank, chaturanga, and upward facing dog) as a part of a sun salutation sequence.
Vinyasa is comprised of many different fast paced, athletic, heart pumping styles of yoga. Some of the types of yoga included in Vinyasa are Ashtanga, Power Yoga, Bikram (also called Hot Yoga), Jivamukti, and Kundalini.
Anusara yoga is typically fun and lighthearted, but that does not mean they are easy. Anusara yoga is a good class for students who want a good physical workout as well as a positive spiritual experience.
Ashtanga yoga is one of the most athletic and vigorous styles of yoga. Ashtanga follows the same series of poses at each session, which makes it easier to continue exercising this way at home if you do not want to go to the class.
Bikram or Hot Yoga is performed in a room that is heated to 95 to 100 degrees. The hot temperature encourages abundant sweating, which is thought to release toxins from the body. Warm muscles are also more flexible, which can make difficult poses more comfortable.
Kundalini is a very spiritual style of yoga, and emphasizes breathing and meditation. Kundali yoga involves chanting and mudras, which are movements that focus and direct energy during certain poses to increase meditation.
Power yoga classes provide a rigorous cardio workout. Power yoga is best suited for athletic people who are already in good physical and cardio condition. Power yoga does not have as much chanting or a rigid series of poses like some other styles of yoga.
Yoga can be a great source for exercise, as well as bringing mental and spiritual peace. Try a few different yoga classes and you may find that it does your body - and soul - a lot of good.
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