Bon Zai Yoga, Bonnie Fisher, Yoga Instructor, Registered Yoga Teacher, Denver Area Yoga Instructor

Different Types of Yoga

Hathaimage from japan trip
Hatha can be thought of as the umbrella of all yoga. It is not a specific type or style of yoga, it is all yoga practice. Hatha is a combination of two Sanskrit terms: ‘ha’ meaning sun, and ‘tha’ meaning moon. Hatha represents the joining and balance of the masculine (sun) with the feminine (moon). The words Hatha, and Yoga, are sometimes used interchangeably.

Vinyasa (Flow)
A Vinyasa class is sometimes referred to as a ‘flow’ class because of the constant moving your body flows through, using the breath to guide you. In these classes you can expect a lot of movement, your body flowing through each asana on every inhale and exhale. There is no permanent or set list of asanas in a Vinyasa class, so each class can be wildly different depending on the teacher. So if you find yourself in a Vinyasa class you do not particularly like, simply seek out another instructor who’s style you will better relate to.

Bikram Choudhury is the creator of Bikram Yoga. His style of yoga practice incorporates 26 poses, preformed in a 90 minute class. It is always the same set of asanas, never changing. This series of poses is done in a room which is heated to a temperature of 105 degrees, and the room is held at around 40% humidity. Performing a yoga practice in this atmosphere rids the body of toxins through profuse sweating, and allows for greater muscular flexibility. Bring two towels with you, they both will be soaked by the end of class—I mean you will literally be able to wring out your towels they will be so soaked! Also bring a bottle of water, you will need the replenishment.

B.K.S. Iyengar is the man who founded Iyengar Yoga. He simply uses the various yoga asanas and came up with his own style and personal practice of yoga. Using his method, one is most concerned with proper alignment. He believes that perfect alignment in every yoga asana is attainable to anyone, through a consistent yoga practice. The major innovation that makes Iyengar Yoga stand out is his use of various props throughout your practice. Props such as; blankets, blocks, pillows, straps, chairs, blankets, and bolsters, assist one in achieving perfect proper alignment even if their bodies are not yet open enough to achieve this on their own. To me, this style of yoga is very therapeutic, almost like a physical therapy session.

trumpeter swan photo: D.Hromish

There is a set series of poses in an Ashtanga practice. In most Ashtanga classes, there is no teacher leading a class. Instead, the teacher is there to adjust your poses, mind your safety, and remind you of the poses if you forget. You are welcome to arrive or leave class whenever you choose, because there is no instruction; it is up to you. As you learn the sets of poses, you will practice one certain series each time you go to class, and the teacher will let you know when you are ready to move on to the next series, or add a few more poses. This is a very physically demanding practice and appeals to those who are self-motivated. It may take you months or years to perfect the primary series of poses before you are ready to move on to the intermediate series.

Power yoga is a style similar to that of Ashtanga, as far as the physically demanding side goes. There is no specific set of poses, so every class can be very different. The emphasis in these classes is strength and flexibility. They are very popular with those who enjoy exercising and are quite fit. There is a limited amount of chanting and meditation in this style.

Created by David Life and Sharon Gannon in 1986, Jivimukti means “liberation while living”. They wanted to create a practice that held in mind that the purpose of your yoga practice is for enlightenment. While this style is physically demanding, it is combined with strong philosophical teachings of yoga. Get ready to philosophize and to chant!

The goal of practicing Kundalini yoga is to tap into the positive energy that exists in every human being. This is a much more spiritual practice of yoga, that leads to enlightenment and self awakening. You may have heard someone talk about awakening your inner kundalini. It is believed that kundalini energy runs up along our spines and out the crown of the head. In order to tap into this energy, one must awaken the inner kundalini which is pictured as a coiled snake at the base of the spine. As you begin to awaken this energy inside of you, it coils up your spine opening up each of your chakras along the way. If this description sounds a little too ‘out there’ for you, this style may not be for you just yet, but I recommend the practice to everyone - it is very uninhibited and freeing.

yoga glossary

State of union between two opposites - body and mind; individual and universal consciousness; a process of uniting the opposing forces in the body and mind in order to achieve supreme awareness and enlightenment.

Photo taken at Tampa Zoo: D.HromishAsanas
Asanas are simply the various Yoga Postures. They are gentle stretching movements designed to help balance the mind and body.

A symbolic gesture transmitting or redirecting energy in yoga or meditation. This can be a whole-body gesture or a hand gesture, like pressing your palms together.

Meaning: “I bow to the divine in you.” Namaste is a traditional Indian greeting of respect and thank you, with spiritual and symbol meaning. This is done with your palms pressed together in the middle of your forehead (third eye) or at your heart, and lightly bow your head and shoulders.

Also spelled "Aum," is a single-sound mantra that signifies the unification of the body, mind and spirit. It often is used as a mantra during meditation.

Also called Yoga Breathing or Breathing Exercise. Pranayama is one of the Five Principles of Yoga which promotes proper breathing.

Photo from Bonnie's trip to Japan

Also called Corpse Pose, this is the classic relaxation Yoga Pose, practiced before or in between Asanas and as Final Relaxation.

Surya Namaskar
Also called Sun Salutation. This series of movement limbers up the whole body in preparation for the yoga asanas.

Also called Loud Breathing or Ocean Breath, this involves drawing air in through both nostrils with the glottis held partially closed. Simply put, you breath through your nose while your tongue is pressed lightly on the roof of your mouth, constricting the air that is drawn in, making a more audobile breathing sound. Ujjayi is translated as "what clears the throat and masters the chest area."

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