Contemporary Hatha yoga styles (part 3, final)

This post is a continuation of Contemporary Hatha yoga styles (part 2)

Power yoga

Similar to Vinyasa Flow, Power yoga do not have a specific master or hierarchy in existence. The practice is first promoted as a total strength and flexibility workout by Beryl Bender Birch. One distinct character of Power yoga, as compared to other approaches is its detachment from the traditional yoga philosophy, where there is no Sanskrit words or sitting in meditation involved. The approach consists of vigorous fitness workouts that is drawn specifically from Ashtanga Vinyasa. Asanas are modified in a such way which attract practitioners who are more keen in a physical workout.  Hence, Power yoga is generally popular among fitness centers and gyms in modern countries such as United States, Europe and some parts of Asia. Since the emphasis of the practice on strength building, minimal attention is given to alignment.

Bikram yoga

Bikram yoga is probably the most controversial approach within all yoga systems. The yoga practice consists of twenty-six pose and two breathing exercise routines was developed by Bikram Choudhury through his years of research and teaching specific poses to patients of different sickness. A basic Bikram yoga class is clearly defined. First, the room is to be set to 40 degree Celsius. Second, only the twenty-six poses are performed during each session; there is no inversions and arm balance poses. Finally, practitioners are to adopt the 20:80 breathing technique where a full breath is taken when going into the pose, then twenty percent of the breath is being let out through the nose, followed by completed exhalation. Students has found the breathing technique difficult and not viable. Furthermore, in contrast to other yoga approaches, Choudhury exerts that using of yoga props to do postures makes matter worse and not any better. In contrary, his only prop in Bikram – heated yoga room- is possibly itself a source of injury. Choudhury also acclaims that he is the only one among all other yoga masters who does the “true hatha yoga”.

Author’s thoughts:

The research experience of the contemporary yoga approaches has allowed me to admire the beauty of each contemporary hatha yoga approach. It is amazing how the existing wide range of asanas can be integrated in different variations/conditions to formulate a system for instructors and practitioners to follow. Although yoga has been developed primarily for rehabilitation purposes, with the enlightened masters’ presence, yoga has widened in its perspective to help people in several aspects in life (e.g psychologically, spiritually and energetically).

My gratitude goes out to all gurus and masters whom have developed the systems for our physical, mental and spiritual growth.  May all teachers, practitioners or to-be practitioners have opportunities to explore their preferred yoga approach and deepen their understanding of their own nature through doing asanas and development of mindfulness.  Namaste.

Jolene L. (Sept YTTC 2017)

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