The word yoga means to yoke or bind and is it often interpreted as “union”: the union between the body, the mind, and the spirit. Therefore, this simple word englobes thousands of different practices and interpretations. Nowadays, Patanjali’s third limb of yoga, asanas, is practiced worldwide. It is the most visible and popular part of yoga, and even within this limb, there is a wide range of styles and variations.
When I first started practicing yoga, I didn’t know all the different currents and possibilities that exist out there. I just thought there was one type of yoga that was practiced in the same way everywhere.
Then, I heard of hatha yoga. Hatha is a term that refers to all physical postures of yoga that help us align, open the energetic channels, and balance the masculine and feminine elements of our body. Currently, most Hatha yoga classes are slow-paced and beginner-friendly.
Today everyone can find a yoga style that can suit their needs. For people who prefer slow-paced yoga, Hatha is the most common type but there are many more such as:
- Iyengar yoga, in which postures are held longer to really focus on alignment and detail;
- Yin yoga, in which mostly seated postures are held during long periods of time in order to target deep and rarely used tissues;
- Restorative yoga, in which simple postures are practiced along with a large number of props to achieve a deep relaxation of the body and the mind.
On the other hand, for people who enjoy fast-paced classes, there are other styles such as:
- Ashtanga yoga, a physically demanding style that follows a dynamic sequence of postures to attain flexibility and strength;
- Vinyasa yoga, a style that derived from Ashtanga in which the movement is coordinated with your breath, flowing from one pose to another;
- Bikram yoga or hot yoga is a sequence of 26 postures, each done twice in a heated room
- Kundalini yoga, a style that prioritizes core and breathing exercises to release the kundalini energy in the body.
As I researched more, I realized that when I started practicing, I was doing Anusara yoga, a modern variation of Hatha influenced by Iyengar that focuses on alignment and heart-opening postures. The yoga world is everchanging and the possibilities are endless, it is up to us to find out what we are looking for and explore in order to integrate it into our own teaching.