More about yoga

Explanation of different yoga styles

Iyengar yoga created by B.K.S. Iyengar, is a form of yoga known for its use of props, such as belts and blocks, as aids in performing Asana's (postures). It is firmly based on the traditional eight limbs of yoga as expounded by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras, emphasizing the development of strength, stamina, flexibility and balance, as well as concentration(Dharana) and meditation (Dhyana) .

Iyengar Yoga is a form of Hatha yoga which focuses on the structural alignment of the physical body through the development of asanas. Through the practice of a system of asanas, it aims to unite the body, mind and spirit for health and well being. Iyengar Yoga is considered a powerful tool to relieve the stresses of modern-day life which in turn can help promote total physical and spiritual well being.

Iyengar Yoga is characterized by great attention to detail and precise focus on body alignment. Iyengar pioneered the use of "props" such as cushions, benches, blocks, straps, and even sand bags, which function as aids allowing beginners to experience Asana's more easily and fully than might otherwise be possible without several years of practice. Props also allow tired or ill students to enjoy the benefits of many asanas via fully "supported" methods requiring less muscular effort.

Standing poses are emphasized in Iyengar Yoga. They build strong legs, increase general vitality, and improve circulation, coordination and balance, ensuring a strong foundation for study of more advanced poses.

Unlike more experiential approaches where students are encouraged to independently 'find their way' to the asanas by imitating the teacher, an Iyengar Yoga class is highly verbal and precise, with misalignments and errors actively corrected. Iyengar has trained thousands of teachers, who complete 2-5 years of rigorous training for the introductory level of certification (higher-level certification may take a decade or more).

Mr. Iyengar has also developed extensively ways of applying his practice to various ailments, diseases, and disorders. Many of these sources of suffering, from chronic backache to immunodeficiency to hig blood pressure to insomnia to depression, have specific programs of Iyengar yoga associated with them, and recovery from such ailments through targeted yoga practice often outstrips other forms of physical therapy and sometimes even medicine. These programs are formulated in their most advanced form at the center of Iyengar Yoga: the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute located in Pune, India.


(source: Wikipedia Internet Ecyclopedia)

The 6 mainstream styles of yoga

There are many different styles of yoga. There are 6 mainstream styles of yoga which are being practiced for a long long time originally in India, which are: Hatha yoga, Bhakti yoga, Jnana yoga, Karma yoga and Mantra yoga. Raja yoga consists out of all other (5) forms of yoga and therefore is also known as 'the royal path of yoga'. All other forms of yoga have been distracted from these 6 traditional yoga styles. In the Western world, Hatha Yoga, the physical form of yoga, is the most popular. The last decennia, with yoga becoming more popular in the West, there developed a lot of new Hatha yoga styles. Unfortunately these new yoga styles sometimes don't have a lot in common anymore with the original ideas of yoga; to find more balance and to feel the unity of the mind and the body. 

Hatha yoga

Hatha yoga Hatha originates from the word 'ha', which means 'sun' and 'tha', which means 'moon'. In the Western world it is mostly this form of yoga which is known, so often when speaking about yoga, they actually talk about this style of yoga. Hatha yoga is a physical variation of yoga, which consists mainly out of the practicing of physical postures (Asana's) and breathing techniques (Pranayama) and Meditation, to feel the unity of the mind and the body. Hatha yoga consists mainly out of statical postures, so non-moving asana's. In the Western world Hatha yoga is populair to reduce stress. It is supposed to have a positive effect on the nerve system and the organs and in general the body becomes more souple and in balance. The goal of Hatha yoga in the Western world is mainly to improve health and general well being. It is often seen as the form of yoga which brings unity in the oposite polars of the body system; the positive (sun) and negative (moon) flows. The physical body will be aligned by means of different physical exercises, called Asanas . Every exercise has a specific goal, to take care of a certain disharmony and bring more balance. Different as with sports with classical Hatha yoga you are not jumping in and out a position, but you go mentally into the position, to feel and observe the position and slowely come out of it again. There will be no violence or force against the body.

Raja yoga

'The royal path of yoga'. Raja means 'king' or 'the highest one'. Raja yoga consists out of different yoga styles: hatha yoga, bhakti yoga, jnana yoga, karma yoga and mantra yoga. Patanjali is often called 'the father' of this yoga style. He lived 200 BC. His book 'the Yoga-Sutras' describes Raja yoga. It is about consciousness and the possibility to guide your thoughts. Transcedent Meditation is also a form of Raja Yoga, spread through the West since the 50's by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

Bhakti yoga

Bhakti yoga is a term within Hinuism which denotes the spritual practice of fostering loving devotion to God, called 'bhakti'. Traditionally there are nine forms of bhakti-yoga. Bhakti yoga is generally considered the easiest of the four general paths to liberation, or 'moksha' (the others being Karma, Raja and Jnana yoga).

karma yoga

(also known as Buddhi yoga) or the 'discipline of action' is based on the teachings of the 'Bhagavad Gita', a sacred Sanskrit scripture of Hinuism. Karma yoga focuses on the adherence to duty (dharma) while remaining detached from the reward. The word Karma is derived from the Sanskrit word 'Kri' meaning 'to do'. In the most basic sense 'karma' simply means action, and 'yoga' translates the untion. Thus Karma yoga litterally translates to the path of 'union through action'. Action without consideration op personal sefish desires, likes or dislikes, withour being attached tot the fruits of one's deeds.

Jnana yoga

Jnana yoga is the path of wisdom. This style of yoga is mainly intellectual and tries in a religious-philosophical way to be released from earthly matters like pleasure and suffering, success and failure, birth and death. Vivekananda brought this yoga to the Western world. Jnana yoga is smainly for people with an intellectual need and focuses on study and meditation.

mantra YOGA

Mantra yoga meditation involves chanting a word or phrase and repating this, until the mind and emotions are transcended and the superconscious is revealed and experienced. The most well known yoga mantra is OM.

Other yoga styles, coming from the 6 mainstreams

(in alphabetical sequence, source Wikipedia Internet Encyclopedia)


Ashtanga yoga - Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga (also called 'power yoga') is a system of yoga draw from Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, but it's current form was developed at the Mysore Palace in Mysore India and is commonly attributed to Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. Pattabhi made a slection from the manuscript of six series of each 40 Asanas. The postures together make a streaming flow in English and vinyasa in Sanskrit. In discussing the Ashtanga Vinyasa system, a clear distinction must be made between the eight (ashta) limbs (anga) of classical yoga as outlined by Pantanjali in the Yoga Sutras, and the Ashtanga which is being practitioners of most modern day schools of Hatha Yoga, including Pattabi Jois, The exercises/Asana's are being practiced with 'vinyasa' -a breathing teachnique- and 'tristhana' -unity of the three; posture, breathing technique and attention-. These three are supposed to be practiced in harmony with each other. Unfortunately this is impossible for most people, because of the speed of the performance of the exercises.


Bikram yoga also known as Hot Yoga, is a modern style of (power) yoga developed by Bikram Choudhury and a Los Angeles, California based company. Bikram Yoga is ideally practiced in a room heated to 105째F (40.5째C) with a humidity of 40%. Classes are guided by specific dialogue including 26 postures and two breathing exercises. Classes last approximately 90-minutes. Again; by performing the postures in a fast flow, Bikram yoga has little or nothing to do with the original message of yoga to find more balance between the body, the mind and the spirit. Bikram Choudhury has aggressively enforced claims of copyright and trademark protection, including the claim that the sequence of Asana's in Bikram's Beginning Yoga Class falls under his copyright. This development is controversial within the (United States) yoga community. Some practitioners object to the idea that Bikram can have exclusive control over a series of postures derived from traditional practices. Also, some object to Bikram's stated plans to create a formal franchise of studios, or what critics would like to call 'McBikram'.


Dru yoga. The word 'dru' derives from 'dhruvam', the silence point. The name 'dru' was also given to the polar star, which is standing still above us in the sky. It is about focusing completely on the quiet space in which nothing can disturb the balance. This form of yoga became known in the West by Mansukh Patel.


Kriya yoga is a form of karma yoga. Krya yoga is developed by Yogananda. Yogananda came from India to the West, and wrote a few books especially for the Western people to share the wisdom from his religion and culture with us.


Kundalini yoga is a physical and meditative discipline, comprising a set of techniques that use the mind, senses and body to create a communication between 'mind' and 'body'. Kundalini yoga focuses on psycho-spiritual growth and the body's potential for maturation, giving special consideration to the role of the spine and the endocrine system in the understanding of yogic awakening (Sovatsky,1998).


Kundalini Yoga concentrates on chakras in the body in order to generate a spiritual power, which is known as kundalini.


Kundalini is the potential form of prana or life force, lying dormant in our bodies. Some claim that it should be translated 'lock of hair of the Beloved') lying at the base of our spine, which can spring awake when activated by spiritual disciplines. Shiva, the god of creation and destruction is considered to be the god of this power. There are yoga-breathing techniques which give Kundalini energy free, but this is not without risc. The body should be prepared very well for the enormous powers which can come free.


Laya yoga is a substyle of tantra yoga.It is a based on focusing the mind in specific ways on the chakras, and inducing Kundalini energy to arise. Laya means "dissolution" and refers to the melting of all the impressions which have accumulated through out one's lifetime/s, thereby liberating one's mind from all obstacles and limitations and freeing one from the holds of karma. This also causes the seeds of habitual inclinations (i.e. samskaras) to be dissolved and turned into primal energy. Laya Yoga is usually called the yoga of absorption, or absorbing the lower nature by the higher spiritual forces.


Okido yoga is a training in 'doing' and is focused on the daily life. The Japanese Zen master Masahiro Oki has studied a.o. yoga with Ghandi and introduced Okido yoga in the West.


Power yoga - Ashtanga vinyasa yoga, also called vinyasa yoga or poweryoga, is a form of yoga wich consist mainly of series of yoga exercises. Power yoga is based on the classical Asana's of Hatha yoga. However, Hatha yoga consist mostly out of static postures.


Prana yoga Prana is a Sanskrit word that refers to a vital, life-sustaining force of living beings and vital energy in natural processes of the universe. Prana is a central concept in Ayrveda and Yoga where it is believed to flow through a network of fine subtle channels called nadis. The three main channels are: the ida, the pingala and the sushumna.


The popular understanding of prana as being the same as air is a misunderstanding, or a simplification of the concept. The incorrect assumption that prana is respiratory air arises from the popular understanding of the practice of pranayama, in which the control of prana is achieved (initially) from the control of one's breathing. According to Yogic philosophy the breath, or air, is merely a gateway to the world of prana and its manifestation in the body. In yoga, pranayama techniques are used to control the movement of these vital energies within the body, which is said to lead to an increase in vitality in the practitioner. However, the practice of these techniques is not trivial, and there can be circumstances where pranayama techniques might disrupt the balance of a person's life. The possibility of adverse effects resulting from these techniques must therefore not be underestimated.


In practical terms, prana can be explained in various ways. Feelings of hunger, thirst, hot, cold, etc. in the body could, according to this worldview, be interpreted as pranic manifestations. All physical feelings or energies that arise or flow within the body might also be interpreted as evidence that prana is at work. The presence of prana is said to be what distinguishes a living body from a dead one. When a person (or any other living being such as an animal) dies, the prana, or life force, is thought to leave the body through one of several orifices.


Pregnancy-yoga uses the Asana's of Hatha yoga to make the process of being pregnant and the giving birth- more light.


Qigong or Chinees yoga (or ch'i kung) refers to a wide variety of traditional 'cultivation' practices that involve movement and/or regulated breathing designed to be therapeutic. Qigong is practiced for health maintenance purposes, as a therapeutic intervention, as a medical profession, a spiritual path and/or component of Chinese martial arts.


The 'qi' in 'qigong' means breath or gas in Chinese, and, by extension, 'life force', 'energy' or even 'cosmic breath'. 'Gong' means work applied to a discipline or the resultant level of skill, so 'qigong' is thus 'breath work' or 'energy work'. Attitudes toward the scientific basis (or lack of it) for qigong vary markedly. Most Western medical practitioners and many practitioners oftraditional Chinese medicine, as well as the Chinese government, view qigong as a set of breathing and movement exercises, with possible benefits to health through stress reduction and exercise. Others see qigong in more metaphysical terms, claiming that cosmic qi can be drawn into the body and circulated through channels (aka meridians).


Sahaja yoga uses Kundalini techniques. It is a new religious movement founded by Nirmala Srivastava, more widely known as 'Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi' and affectionately as 'Mother' by her followers (Sahaja Yogis). The movement says that Sahaja Yoga uses a process of Kundalini awakening to produce Self Realization, experienced as a cool breeze and thoughtless awareness.


Sahaja Yoga started in India and England (where Nirmala Srivastava moved in 1974) and there are now Sahaja Yoga centers in almost 100 countries worldwide. The Sahaja Yoga organization is known as Vishwa Nirmala Dharma (Universal Pure Religion) or Sahaja Yoga International.


Sahaja Yoga has been a subject of criticism and has been associated with a number of problems, some arising from 'Sahaja Yoga's emphasis on complete devotion to Nirmala Srivastava'. Various sources have also described Sahaja Yoga as a cult.

Swara yoga is a form of yoga which describes how the movement of prana can be controlled by manipuation of the breath. The word swara means 'the sound of one's own breath' and yoga means 'Union'. Swara yoga teaches how the state of union can be achieved by means of one's breath. It should not be confused with pranayama. There is a fundamental difference in approaches between Swara yoga and other schools of yoga. In Raja and jnana yoga, the mind is used to control the breath. Conversely, starting that the mind is an exclusive concept, Swara yoga attempts to control the mind by regulating the breath.


Tantra yoga Tantra is the way of complete acceptance of everything. The idea behind it is that everything is God, so everything is good. In the West Tantra yoga is often associated with sex. Because in most cultures sex is still surrounded with taboo's, Tantra is also accepting this aspect of life.


Tao Yin is a kind of Chinese yoga, which forms the fundaments for the development of control of the body, which is needed with all Chinese and Japanese martial arts. The exercises are much more aimed at collecting strength and energy then the Indian forms of yoga.


Vipassana yoga is a form of yoga in which the movements are slowed down as much as possible. Often it is combined with a period of siclence and not talking. Vipassana origins from India, and Zazen has its roots in Japan and China.


Vipassan in Sanskrit means 'insight' into the impermanent nature or anicca of mind and body. Vipassana is one of India's most ancient techniques of meditation, rediscovered by Gaurama Buddha 2500 years ago. It is a way of self-transformation through self-observation and introsection. It focuses on the deep interconnection between mind and body, which can be experienced directly by disciplined attention to the physical sensations that form the life of the body, and that continuously interconnect and condition the life of the mind Vipassan -meditation is often referred to by Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike simply as 'insight meditation'. While it is a type of Buddhist meditation as taught by the Buddha, it is essentially non- secretarian in character and has universal application. One need not convert to Buddhism to practice vipassan - meditation.