Yoga involves a wide variety of mind body exercises ranging from physical to spiritual. Yoga may be tailored to needs of different individuals with different problems. Different poses are included in an average yoga class ranging from sitting to bending and stretching poses. However, an advanced yoga practice may include some exciting inversions and variations like bikram yoga, power yoga, chair yoga, kundalini yoga, raja yoga, zen yoga, prenatal yoga, ashtanga yoga and couple yoga, etc. All these yoga variations cater to different aspects and need engaging in sense of balance, strength and flexibility, bringing in a union of overall calmness and well being.
Chair yoga was invented for people who were unable to sit, stand or lie down, but it offers the same benefits and results as regular yoga practice. It is especially designed to help elderly people, people with arthritis and weight issues, lung, heart and diabetic patients. Some of the poses which are incorporated in chair yoga include seated twist, side bends, eagle pose, seated back bends, etc. The combination of these exercises help in circulation of blood, removing stress and anxiety, improves breathing and digestion, weight management and total wellness.
Bikram yoga or hot yoga
Bikram yoga is a branch of hatha yoga which uses 26 poses in a sequence of 90 minutes of class where the classroom is heated to at least 105 degrees with 40 percent humidity. The first 12 poses of this advanced variation consist of standing poses and the remaining poses are performed in sitting and lying down position. It is a very intense form of yoga practice which eases the strained muscles but should be performed only under the strict guidance of an expert yoga instructor. Its advantages for health and fitness make this form very popular but it should be strictly avoided during all stages of pregnancy. It is important to keep yourself hydrated as this yoga practice may leave you feeling dizzy because of the extreme temperature of the room.
Power yoga is a popular yoga practice of recent times. This form of yoga offers a continuous chain of yoga workout switching from one position to another without giving a break. Thus it is very effective for losing weight and it also keeps your heart rate up. This yoga sequence lasts for about 90 minutes and one loses almost 375 to 400 calories during the whole session. This form of yoga always begins with sun salutations but everybody has their own interpretation of the rest of the sequence. However, it always ends with 5 minutes of “the corpse” pose. People with back problems should avoid doing the sequence of back bends. The benefit of this form of yoga is that the sequences could be tailored to one’s need and suitability.
Kundalini yoga is supposed to be more difficult than other forms of yoga. The belief behind this practice is that there is a dormant serpent power in everybody’s spine which needs to be awakened through 7 chakras, or the energy points present in the body. This practice should be strictly done under an expert guidance. There is a sequence of chanting mantras, hand gestures, meditation and visualization. This practice teaches you to let go of your body and outside world and let your soul guide you through. The basic poses of this practice start from an “easy pose” progressing to the “lotus pose” getting on further to eagle cow pose, and then to the “cat cow pose”. The kundalini yoga practice should always start with sun salutation in order to warm up your body.
Zen yoga is a holistic Buddhist practice which establishes the union between one’s body, mind and spirit. This form of yoga is very simple to achieve and it combines tai chi exercises, breathing exercises and stretching exercises. This practice involves lung and large intestine exercises, heart and small intestine exercises, and stomach and spleen exercises. These exercises help in releasing the tension and infusing new energy, and finally bringing in compassion and peace in your life. Thus, this form touches and balances all the energy meridians of body. Zen yoga helps to bring mental peace and fights anxiety and eating disorders as it is believed that zen yoga provides a space between thought and action.
Prenatal yoga consists of low impact exercises which are especially designed up to the third trimester of pregnancy. It offers various health benefits to you and your baby and prepares you for an easy labor. But one should always consult a doctor before starting any new exercise program during pregnancy. This form of yoga eliminates stress through deep breathing exercises thus promoting a better sleep pattern. Prenatal yoga helps to relax your back pain, shortness of breath and strengthens the pelvic muscles at the same time. It enhances blood circulation in the body which means your baby is getting the adequate blood supply. Some of the poses of prenatal yoga involve the pelvic tilt and the squatting exercises. If you feel dizzy while performing these exercises then focus only on gentle breathing exercises.
All the yoga poses from spiritual to physical are designed in a way where partners perform the exercises synchronizing the movements with each other. This deepens the emotional and physical intimacy, and trust and communication between the partners. This practice opens the couples to face new challenges together. If you find some pose interesting and your partner doesn’t find it so adequate then be patient and supportive of your partner. This practice begins from deep breathing exercises in unison with your partner and progresses to standing poses, twisting poses and finally the relaxation poses.
Asthanga yoga involves all the 8 limbs of the body and focuses on the workout of each and every limb in a series. The fundamental behind these limbs suggests the way to use our energy potentially in relationship to our own self and people around us. Regular practice of this form enables us to achieve compassion, generosity, honesty and peacefulness which are our true nature. Asthanga yoga’s various positions include downward dog pose, standing forward bend, the mountain pose and sun salutation, etc. This intense yoga form should be done under complete supervision of an expert and avoid it if you are out of shape.
Raja yoga is one of the 6 branches of yoga and its main focus is on introspection and meditation. Raja means royal or related to king. This yoga form mainly focuses on divine and advocates strict moral discipline. The concentration is brought to the “third eye” which is in the center of the forehead. Leave out the unnecessary thoughts of mind thus bringing your mind to a more aware and higher state of consciousness. This brings about a state of deep relaxation and brings in energy to fight new challenges. Sit cross legged and close your eyes and inhale and exhale deeply, while letting go of the series of thoughts in your mind and focus only on one particular thought such as, “I want to send out the message of peace to the world.” A 15 minute practice of the same would bring wonderful results and would prove that how our mind can achieve even the impossible.