Learning the ABCs of Yoga

jane dagny

ABC BlocksWhen you first got involved in a yoga class, did you know how many types of yoga there are?

I’ll have to be honest – when I chose a studio, I did not consider what style of yoga to practice. Okay, thinking back, I knew about Bikram and decided that it would not be my first choice. I took a second to consider and realized that Bikram would be too intense for me due to the heat and the enormous amount of sweat required of it. I likened the idea to being in a sauna, but with physical exertion. So if I don’t like to sit in a very humid and hot room for more than five minutes, chances are I would not last a full Bikram routine. I hear they are about 90 minutes long. With that aside, I figured that most yoga studios would teach a beginner’s class in a setting where the temperature didn’t have to be maintained above 95 degrees.

I was right. Now that I have gained some knowledge about yoga, I see that most beginners practice Hatha yoga. And from what I can tell, yoga appears to be the umbrella term for various styles stemming from Hatha yoga. Iyengar, Kripalu, Bikram, Ashtanga, Kundalini yoga – and probably others – are developed from Hatha yoga. In conversation, when someone says they do yoga, it probably includes any of these styles because they will incorporate the study and practice of the eight limbs of yoga. These eight limbs are: Yama (moral codes); Niyama, (self-purification); Asana (posture); Pranayama (breath control); Pratyahara (sense control); Dharana (concentration); Dhyana (meditation); and Samadhi (contemplation). Some styles concentrate more on certain steps than others.

So, when you really consider the spiritual and physical aspects of yoga, all of this understanding is quite overwhelming. At least for me it is. If we continue to practice yoga by simply going to class regularly or doing the asanas and breathing techniques at home, we achieve a sense of physical well-being and stress relief. That in itself is beneficial. But imagine having the discipline to immerse oneself in the spiritual practice of the eight limbs – that’s dedication!

In case you were wondering, I am doing Ashtanga yoga and, although I kind of fell into that style by picking a studio near me, I actually like it because the practice is learned in sets and has an order that gradually incorporates all the eight limbs.

I’ll keep you posted on any other insights I may learn from Ashtanga yoga.
[tags]styles of yoga, yoga education, Hatha, Bikram, Ashtanga, 8 limbs of yoga, spiritual and physical aspects of yoga[/tags]

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