Yoga is a group of physical, spiritual and mental disciplines that has been practiced in India since ancient times and is mentioned in various ancient books including Rigveda and Upanishads. In this article titled Various Yoga Poses and the Benefits, let us have a discussion on different types of yoga asanas such as Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Hatha, Yin and Restorative along with the associated benefits.
Ashtanga (Eight Limbs of Yoga)
Ashtanga Yoga or the Eight Limbs of Yoga consists of a set of prescriptions and one of the traditional forms of yoga. It is basically made up of six series including one primary and intermediate apart from four advanced series. It helps in connecting the body with the mind.
Ashtanga Yoga requires discipline and helps in improving focus as well as overall wellbeing. It helps in building stronger muscles and simultaneously improves muscle flexibility.
Vinyasa is a popular form of yoga and shares poses similar to Hatha Yoga. However, it is equipped with distinct pacing and focus. It is an approach to yoga with the transition from one pose to another coordinating the breathing to get a feel that the breath is moving the body. Yoga gurus and teachers suggest a slow-paced session as a fast one may turn up physically challenging. It helps in relaxing and improving fitness.
The primary benefits of Vinyasa Yoga are building up muscle strength along with improving fitness, ideal for a light-intensity cardiovascular workout, reducing stress and minimizing anxiety.
Those who are new to yoga are suggested to start with Hatha Yoga instead of Vinyasa Yoga. The same is recommended for achieving a lower level of fitness and preferring a slower relaxed pace. Vinyasa Yoga is recommended for those who are looking for a high level of fitness and if are familiar with the poses.
The Sanskrit word Hatha literally means force and it has been traced as early as 1st-century CE in a couple of Sanskrit texts like the Vajrayana Buddhist. It is described as a method that helps in raising and conserving bindu or the vital force.
Hatha Yoga is complex and the poses may include seated pose or lying down like a boat or bridge, standing pose like a tree or triangle pose, and restorative poses like child’s or happy baby pose. Various benefits can be achieved like getting better sleep, reducing stress, improving core strength as well as balance, relieving back or neck pain, lowering depression levels, strengthening flexibility and enhancing mindfulness.
Power Yoga is a cardiovascular workout discipline that primarily helps in building flexibility and strength in the body. It aims in increasing heart rate abreast to burning calories. It is simultaneously referred to as gym yoga and lacks a set structure for poses. However, some of the poses practices are Chaturanga Dandasana or four-limbed staff pose, Warrior Poses and Arm Balances pose.
Hatha Yoga is slightly different from other yoga styles. It focuses less on calm and restoration, follows structure-free poses unlike Ashtanga and Bikram yogas, may combine with various aerobic movements and focuses less on meditation.
Power Yoga should be avoided if one is not fit physically as the more bad impact can be witnessed than good. It is not recommended during pregnancies and not to practice if one is only looking at meditation. It cannot be helpful if one is suffering from slipped disc, lower back pain, hernia, frozen shoulder or spinal injury.
Yin Yoga is gentle and slow-paced fitness exercise that complements fast-paced, hectic or intense workouts. It helps in alleviating tension, developing mindfulness and enhancing breath awareness. It involves holding poses for longer durations and simultaneously enhances inner awareness.
It is highly meditative and classes are conducted in a gentle and calm way, unlike dynamic and active asana practices. It is highly relaxing, static and mostly practiced closer to the ground. It is contrary to Vinyasa, Ashtanga and other stimulating and powerful yoga styles.
Yin Yoga is perfect for those who are new to yoga practice and focus primarily on relaxing the body and calming the mind. It is considered an antidote to the fast-paced modern society.
Yin Yoga offers a plethora of benefits and some of these include alleviating tension and pain, relieving anxiety and stress as well as improving overall well-being. It is a practice of holding a pose for a longer period and primarily teaches to sit with uncomfortable emotions, physical sensations and thoughts.
Restorative Yoga is the opening of the body with passive stretching. It is basically a restful practice and slowing down. It is completely different compared to other forms of yoga and features holding poses for a longer period by using bolsters, blankets, blocks and other props, which support holding the poses effortlessly. It helps in achieving the union of mind and body.
The restorative classes are usually of low-energy and mellow and are mainly considered an antidote to stress. It is important to understand here that stillness is said to be a powerful practice. The benefits of restorative yoga include increased relaxation, better sleep, better mood, improved well-being, reduced pain and gentle on the body.
Don’t About Yoga Practice
Yoga should not be performed when one is ill, exhausted or in a hurry. It should be avoided in acute stress conditions. Women should not practice during menses. However, they can opt for pranayama and relaxation techniques instead. It is never suggested to perform yoga after large meals. A wait for about three hours is recommended.
Drinking water or taking a shower should be prohibited immediately after performing yoga. A gap of about thirty minutes is best. Yoga practice should refrain during surgeries, illness, fractures or sprains. Strenuous exercises should be avoided after performing yoga.