My husband always says I would be very rich if all the people who profess a burning desire to do yoga actually materialised in classes. He also says it is far more socially acceptable to discuss Yoga than religion. Â?What type of yoga do you do?Â? Is a FAQ.
If you want designer labels you can answer that easily. And like designers, yoga labels vie to be in fashion.
You have probably heard the term Â?hathaÂ? yoga bandied about; hatha is the most commonly practised form of yoga in the West. It s meaning, origin and purpose are widely misunderstood. The term is frequently used to denote a separate type of yoga to Iyengar, Ashtanga, Kudalini, Vini etc. In fact they are all very much hatha yoga. I was sent a list of yoga classes I might like to choose from the other day (rather worryingly by an organisation you intends to specialise in supplying yoga instructors) listing the options as follows:-
Well what are the first three if not hatha? Since its origins in the Indus Valley yoga has been practised for thousands of years.. The terms Â?Iyengar, Ashtanga, Sivananda etc have been coined within the last 60 years Â? they are the designer labels . I wonder if any of these terms will survive several milleniums?.
Hatha yoga is commonly understood to be a type of yoga that just concentrates exclusively on the postures - asanas - thus appearing a kind of physical culture. This is also a major misrepresentation and it is clear in the original texts that it was never intended to be such a limited science. The asanas are important to bring health and vitality to the body but they are not intended as an end in themselves. The ultimate concern of yoga is mastery of the mind (raja yoga). There are actually 6 disciplines Â? often referred to as the Â?limbsÂ? in hatha yoga. There are 8 in raja yoga and asanas are just one amongst these.
Hatha is transalated variously as Â?forceÂ?, Â?effortÂ?, Â?balance of sun and moon energiesÂ?, in other words a process of integration and harmonisation leading to self-realisation. The other 8 observances incorporate codes of conduct, breath control and stages of concentration and meditation.
It leads me to the conclusion that there are not really different types of yoga but there are different methods. Find a teacher who is most appropriate for you. Pranayama Â? the art and science of breath control Â? is the essence of yoga. Yoga postures without instruction and emphasis on how you breathe is only an exercise class by some other name. If you want to do yoga seek out the real thing.
If the real thing is unavailable to you at the moment, I have devised a video with my colleague, Lynda Hills to help initiate and aid personal practice, along with a compliation set of audio classes.
About the author:Article written by Sophie Alexander
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