What is yoga and where did it come from?
Yoga is an ancient practice that originated in India. It is a system of physical and mental exercises that are designed to promote health and well-being. The word “yoga” comes from the Sanskrit root yuj, which means “to yoke” or “to unite.”
Yoga is often described as a union of the body, mind, and spirit. The goal of yoga is to create a state of balance and harmony in the individual. Yoga is said to have many benefits, including reducing stress, improving flexibility and strength, and increasing intelligence.
Yoga has been practiced for centuries, but it has become increasingly popular world wide in recent years. In the United States, the number of people practicing yoga has grown from 20 million in 2012 to 36 million in 2016.
The different types of Hatha yoga and their benefits
Yoga as we know it in the western world that focuses on physical postures or asana is called Hatha Yoga.
However in India, there are actually four main paths of yoga: Karma Yoga (selfless service), Bhakti Yoga (devotion), Raja Yoga (meditation), Jnana Yoga (intellectual reflection). Hatha Yoga is the stage of yoga precedes Raja Yoga.
Hatha yoga is consists of various asana (postures), pranayama (breathing techniques), mudra gestures, bandha muscular locks and cleansing techniques (including the use of saline water).
Overtime, there has been many different types or brands of Hatha yoga that have emerged, often named after or by the prominent teacher who taught it or as an emerging trend in western culture. These are some of the most popular types of yoga that are practiced today:
- Standard Hatha yoga, for example, is a slow and gentle form of yoga that is designed to promote relaxation.
- Ashtanga yoga is a more active form of yoga that emphasizes movement and breath control. It is another type of yoga that combines elements of both Hatha and sequences, Vinyasa yoga.
- Vinyasa yoga is a faster-paced form of yoga that focuses on sequencial flowing asana movements.
- Hot yoga is practiced in a heated room at body temperature, 37 degrees Celsius. It consists of a seuqence of 26 poses and the heat is said to help improve flexibility and remove toxins from the body. This style was created by Mr Bikram and initially known as Bikram yoga
- Yin yoga is a slow-paced asana practise and focuses on holding poses for long periods of time. Yin yoga is said to be helpful in improving flexibility and joint health.
- Iyengar yoga focuses on precise alignment of the body. It is usually practiced with props such as blocks and straps.
- Jivamukti yoga is a type of yoga that combines physical, mental, and spiritual elements.
- Natha yoga is a type of yoga that emphasizes the development of self-discipline and inner strength.
- Kundalini yoga is a type of yoga that focuses on awakening the energy located at the base of the spine.
- Sivananda yoga is a type of yoga that focuses on the four traditiojnal paths of yoga as well as Hatha yoga.. It is named after Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh who lived last century.
- Paddle board yoga is the practise of asana on a paddle board in the water.
- Aerial yoga is practising asana while suspended in a fabric hammock.
- Bro yoga is a type of yoga that is designed for men. It is said to be a more masculine form of yoga that focuses on strength and power.
- Prenatal yoga is a type of yoga that is designed for pregnant women. Prenatal yoga can help improve sleep, reduce stress, and ease pregnancy discomfort.
- Doga is a type of yoga that is practiced with dogs. Doga is said to be beneficial for both humans and dogs, as it can help improve the bond between them.
- Chocolate yoga is a fusion of Cacao Ceremony with Kundalini Yoga. It is said to be beneficial for both the body and the mind, as it can help improve mood and reduce stress.
Each type of yoga has its own unique merits. For example, Yin yoga can help to improve your flexibility and focus, while Vinyasa yoga can help to increase your strength and stamina. Ashtanga yoga can provide a more well-rounded workout by incorporating elements of both styles.