Yoga is a word that can have many meanings to many people. What most people consider Yoga is more specifically known as Hatha Yoga. This is the physical approach to Yoga through the practice of an all-body routine incorporating stretches, holds, balance and breath, with a gentle guided/silent/nidra meditation to finish up on.
Other forms of yoga include:
Swami Sivananda was a modern saint who taught his disciples to “serve, love, give, purify, meditate, realise”. As such, this is a more spiritual and meditative approach to Yoga, allowing the practitioner to explore and answer the age-old question “Who am I?”. Sivananda classes are generally 90 minutes long, allowing adequate time and attention to be placed on breathwork (pranayama), bodywork (asana), relaxation (savasana), and can also include chanting at the beginning and end of each class. With Sivananda, the yogi gains physical, mental and spiritual wellness. It teaches in a slow and gentle way to achieve perfection in all aspects of life by advocating the 5 principles of wellness – “proper exercise, proper breathing, proper relaxation, proper diet, and positive thinking and meditation”.
Raja Yoga follows the approach of sage Sri Patanjali and adapts the Yoga Sutras as its epitome. The Yoga Sutras consist of 196 aphorisms (sutra translates as thread in Sanskrit, such as a thread of knowledge which in and of itself is complete, while together with the other sutras creates a guide for attaining and maintaining an enlightened existence).
Gentle Yoga is as it sounds, a more gentle class, where students are guided at a slower pace through a sequence of gently challenging postures and alignments, while still enjoying the benefits of yoga, such as lowered blood pressure and heart rate, loosening up of joints, and a relaxed state of mind. Gentle Yoga will help to keep your endocrine system in check and even boosts the immune system. Some gentle breathing techniques and a relaxation/meditation session are also included in these classes.
Chair Yoga is very similar to Gentle Yoga. The difference being the entire class is conducted while sitting on a chair.
The brainchild of Dr. M. Kataria, Laughter Yoga holds the tenet that we do not need to rely on external stimuli to be happy and peaceful within. It aims to reestablish the students bond with their inner child and, through childlike playfulness, connects them with the innate ability to produce feel good emotions through the practice of laughing for the sake of it. Expect games, body and breath exercises, and fun and laughs galore!
The remarkable benefits of yoga, which include improved flexibility, balance, muscle tone, endurance, and vitality, only hint at the extraordinary power of this deeply spiritual practice. When adhered to and practiced mindfully, yoga can unlock your full creative potential, your capacity for love and compassion, and your ability to find success in all areas of life.
“The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga”, Deepak Chopra.