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Different Flavours Of Yoga

Different Flavours of Yoga

Feeling lost when it comes to pick a yoga class? To help make the choice, we describe here four types of yoga.

Yoga has been rooted in traditional Indian spiritual practice for at least 3000 years, and has been celebrated in the Western world since the 1920s as a mean to promote spirituality, physical and mental wellbeing (1). Yogis and yoginis around the world experience reduced anxiety, depression (2, 3), chronic pain (4, 5) and an improved quality of life (6) – and these are only to cite a few benefits of practicing yoga! There are tens of yoga styles to choose from, all of which will help you increase your overall wellness. No style is more valid or authentic than another: the key is to choose a style that is appropriate for what you are looking for and your level of fitness.

Among other elements, yoga combines a series of physical postures (asanas), breathing techniques (pranayamas) and meditation (dyanas). Every yoga type includes these elements in different proportions, allowing the yogi and yoginis (men and women practicing yoga) to focus their efforts on developing your strength, flexibility or expending your spirituality. It also means that you can find a yoga type that is perfectly adapted to your fitness level.

We describe below four very distinct yoga styles to help you choose the right one for you.

Hatha Yoga

Although modern hatha yoga combines all elements of yoga, it focuses mainly on the physical (rather than the spiritual) parts of yoga, both in terms of strength and flexibility. It uses traditional poses and breathing techniques at a slow pace, which makes it ideal for beginners who want their first experience of yoga to be in a holistic and gentle manner.
What to look for in a practice:

– strength: ✭✭✩
– flexibility: ✭✭✩
– meditation: ✭✩✩

Iyengar Yoga

Iyengar yoga focuses on body alignment by performing detailed and precise movements to perfect each pose. It often makes use of props (e.g., chairs, straps, blocks) to help yogis and yoginis to maintain poses while adjusting their technique. It is perfect for those recovering from injuries or who need to work slowly and methodically to avoid physical exhaustion.
What to look for in a practice:
– strength: ✭✩✩
– flexibility: ✭✭✭
– meditation: ✭✩✩

Vinyasa Yoga

Vinyasa yoga is the most athletic style of yoga. It focuses on the coordination of breath and movements to move harmoniously between poses. Vinyasa yoga has a quick pace as it seeks for a continuous flow between poses. It is great for more advanced yogis and yoginis who want to work on their strength.
What to look for in a practice:
– strength: ✭✭✭
– flexibility: ✭✭✩
– meditation: ✭✩✩

Sudarshan Kriya Yoga

Sudarshan kriya yoga focuses on the spiritual part of yoga, combining repetitive movements following the breath while including mantras and sometimes chants. It is very gentle and slow paced, which means that it can be practiced by yogis and yoginis, at every fitness level, who want to focus on meditation, introspection and/or spirituality.
What to look for in a practice:
– strength: ✭✩✩
– flexibility: ✭✩✩
– meditation: ✭✭✭

References:

[1] B. Iyengar, The illustrated light on yoga. New Delhi: HarperCollins Publishers India, 1997.
[2] H. Cramer et al., “Yoga for anxiety: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials”, Depression and Anxiety, vol. 35, no. 9, pp. 830-843, 2018. Available: 10.1002/da.22762.
[3] R. Domingues, “Modern postural yoga as a mental health promoting tool: A systematic review”, Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, vol. 31, pp. 248-255, 2018. Available: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2018.03.002.
[4] A. Qaseem, T. Wilt, R. McLean and M. Forciea, “Noninvasive Treatments for Acute, Subacute, and Chronic Low Back Pain: A Clinical Practice Guideline From the American College of Physicians”,
Annals of Internal Medicine, vol. 166, no. 7, p. 514, 2017. Available: 10.7326/m16-2367.
[5] H. Cramer, R. Lauche, P. Klose, S. Lange, J. Langhorst and G. Dobos,”Yoga for improving health-related quality of life, mental health and cancer-related symptoms in women diagnosed with breast cancer”, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2017. Available: 10.1002/14651858.cd010802.pub2.
[6] Y. Li, S. Li, J. Jiang and S. Yuan, “Effects of yoga on patients with chronic nonspecific neck pain”, Medicine, vol. 98, no. 8, p. e14649, 2019. Available: 10.1097/md.0000000000014649.
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