Article by Sarah Russell
Yoga is a form of exercise derived from ancient Hindu practice. It strengthens and stretches the body using poses called asanas. It can also help reduce stress, and help people find inner peace. It’s used by some modern Hindu practitioners as an aid towards attaining enlightenment.
It’s important to remember that yoga is more than just a series of exercises. It applies to the body, but also to the mind and spirit. Yoga derives from philosophies meant to help practitioners attain harmony and spiritual insight. The word is derived from a Sanskrit term meaning to join. The same word may also be related to the word referred to the yokes worn by oxen, and may be the ancestor of our modern words “junction” and “juxtapose”.There are many different schools of yoga, each with its own beliefs and practices. Here are the five most common types of yoga. Remember that there are plenty of other options that aren’t listed here.
Hatha Yoga is the most popular school of yoga, and has been taught commonly in the West for a number of years. This type of yoga focuses on the perfection of the mind through the perfection of the body. It uses many breathing techniques, meditative techniques, and asanas.
Ashtanga Yoga is another popular type of yoga. It’s performed much more quickly than most other schools, and is almost a form of aerobic yoga. Smooth, but speedy transitions between poses are a focus.
Kundalini Yoga focuses on the awakening and focusing of what’s called kundalini energy. This energy is frequently referred to as a type of life energy lying dormant inside us, and may be represented by a coiled serpent.
Mantra Yoga is based around the discipline of calming body and mind using sounds and words. You may be familiar with the chant of “om”. This is a common mantra used by this school of yoga.
Tantra Yoga is famous, or infamous, for its focus on spirituality through sexuality. Like Kundalini Yoga, this school also focuses on kundalini energy, but has a different intent and d ifferent methods for awakening it.
No matter which school you choose, you’ll find that yoga is a rich and satisfying practice. It can benefit most people, no matter what their age, if practiced regularly. Asanas may be adapted to deal with injuries and other physical limitations, making yoga a worthwhile form of exercise for people who can’t do other types.
There are traditionally eight fundamental paths to yoga: Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Purna Yoga, Tantra Yoga, Ashtanga or Raja Yoga, and Maha Yoga. However, in the Western world, when you hear yoga mentioned, it’s usually in reference to Hatha Yoga. In Hindu practice, yoga’s ultimate goal is liberating the soul from the cycle of death and rebirth, as well as from worldly suffering. Through yoga, it is believed to be possible to master the mind, body, and emotions, and to transcend desire.
About the Author
Want to learn more about how yoga can change your life? Check out Sarah Russell’s new book – The Beginner’s Guide to Yoga and Meditation – at:
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