Getting The Scoop on the Prominent Styles of Hatha Yoga

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In its voyage to modernity, Yoga has undergone many transformations. One of them was Hatha Yoga, which emerged around 1100 AD. The most significant adaptations, however, were made during the past several decades, particularly to serve the needs or wants of Western students. Of the many styles of Hatha Yoga available today, the following are the best known:

Iyengar Yoga, which is the most widely recognized approach to Hatha Yoga, was created by B. K. S. Iyengar, the brother in-law of the famous T.S. Krishnamacharya (1888-1989) and uncle of T.K.V. Desikachar. This style is characterized by precision performance and the aid of numerous props. Iyengar has trained thousands of teachers, many of whom are in the United States. His Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute, founded in 1974 and dedicated to his late wife Ramamani, is located in Pune, India.

✓ Viniyoga (pronounced vee-nee yoh-gah) is the approach first developed by Shri Krishnamacharya and continued with his son T.K.V. Desikachar. The emphasis is on the breath and practicing Yoga according to your individual needs and capacities. In the United States, Viniyoga is now associated with Gary Kraftsow and the American Viniyoga Institute (AVI); Desikachar has expanded his approach in conjunction with his son Kausthub under the new umbrella of The Krishnamacharya Healing and Yoga Foundation (KHYF), headquartered in Chennai (formerly Madras), India. As the teacher of well-known Yoga masters B.K.S. Iyengar, K. Pattabhi Jois, and Indra Devi, Professor T.S. Krishnamacharya can be said to have launched a veritable Hatha Yoga renaissance in modern times that is still sweeping the world.

Ashtanga Yoga originated with Shri Krishnamacharya and was taught by K. Pattabhi Jois, who was born in 1915 but who had a suitably modern outlook to draw eager Western students to his Mysore, India, Ashtanga Yoga Institute until his death in 2009. He was a principal disciple of

T.S. Krishnamacharya, who apparently instructed him to teach the sequences known as Ashtanga Yoga or Power Yoga. This style is by far the most athletic of the three versions of Hatha Yoga, going back to T.S. Krishnamacharya, and it combines postures with breathing. Ashtanga Yoga differs from Patanjali's eightfold path (also called Ashtanga Yoga), though it's theoretically grounded in it. (We discuss the Ashtanga Yoga tradition in "Considering Your Options: The Eight Main Branches of Yoga" earlier in this chapter.)

Power Yoga is a generic term for any style that follows closely Ashtanga Yoga but doesn't have a set series of postures. It emphasizes flexibility and strength and was mainly responsible for introducing Yoga postures into gyms. Beryl Bender Birch, Bryan Kest, Baron Baptiste, and Sherri Baptiste Freeman are all closely associated with Power Yoga. In a similar manner, Vinyasa Yoga and Flow Yoga, developed by Ganga White and Tracey Rich, are also variatons of Ashtanga Yoga.

✓ Anusara Yoga, with strong roots in Iyengar Yoga, has attained great popularity within a short span of time. Created in 1997 by the American Yoga teacher John Friend, its appeal is in its heart-centered approach. Based on the three As — attitude, alignment, and action — Anusara Yoga seeks to bring "grace" (anusara) into a posture and thus give Hatha Yoga a spiritual thrust.

✓ Kripalu Yoga, inspired by Swami Kripalvananda (1913-1981) and developed by his disciple Yogi Amrit Desai, is a three-stage Yoga tailored for the needs of Western students. The first stage emphasizes postural alignment and coordination of breath and movement; you hold the postures for a short time only. The second stage adds meditation and prolongs the postures. In the final stage, practicing the postures becomes a spontaneous meditation in motion. See Chapter 24 for more information about the Kripalu Yoga Center in Massachusetts.

✓ Integral Yoga was developed by Swami Satchidananda (1914-2002), a student of the famous Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh, India. Swami Satchidananda made his debut at the Woodstock festival in 1969, where he taught the baby boomers to chant om, and over the years has attracted thousands of students. As the name suggests, this style aims to integrate the various aspects of the body-mind through a combination of postures, breathing techniques, deep relaxation, and meditation. Chapter 24 gives you more information about the Satchidananda Ashram in Virginia.

✓ Sivananda Yoga is the creation of the late Swami Vishnudevananda (1927-1993), also a disciple of Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh, India, who established his Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center in Montreal in 1959.

He trained over 6,000 teachers, and you can find numerous Sivananda centers around the world. This style includes a series of 12 postures, the Sun Salutation sequence, breathing exercises, relaxation, and mantra chanting.

✓ Ananda Yoga is anchored in the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952) and was developed by Swami Kriyananda (Donald Walters), one of his disciples. This gentle style prepares the student for meditation, and its distinguishing features are the silent affirmations associated with holding the postures. This Yoga style includes Yogananda's unique energization exercises, first developed in 1917, which involve consciously directing the body's energy (life force) to different organs and limbs. You can find more information about the Ananda Institute of Alternative Living in Nevada City, California, in Chapter 24.

Kundalini Yoga isn't only an independent approach of Yoga but also the name of a style of Hatha Yoga, originated by the Sikh master Yogi Bhajan (1929-2004). Its purpose is to awaken the serpent power (kundalini)

by means of postures, breath control, chanting, and meditation. Yogi

Bhajan, who came to the United States in 1969, is the founder and spiritual head of the Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization (3HO), which has headquarters in Los Angeles and numerous branches around the world. (We cover the Kundalini Yoga approach in the earlier section "Considering Your Options: The Eight Main Branches of Yoga.")

✓ Hidden Language Yoga was developed by the late Swami Sivananda Radha (1911-1995), a German-born female student of Swami Sivananda. This style seeks to promote not only physical well-being but also self-understanding by exploring the symbolism inherent in the postures. Hidden Language Yoga is taught by the teachers of Yasodhara Ashram in British Columbia (see Chapter 24).

✓ Somatic Yoga is the creation of Eleanor Criswell, EdD, a professor of psychology at Sonoma State University in California who has taught Yoga since the early 1960s. Somatic Yoga is an integrated approach to the harmonious development of body and mind, based both on traditional yogic principles and modern psychophysiological research. This gentle approach emphasizes visualization, very slow movement into and out of postures, conscious breathing, mindfulness, and frequent relaxation between postures.

✓ Moksha Yoga, which was originally based on the style of Bikram Yoga (in the following bullet) and is popular in Canada, uses traditional postures in a heated room and includes relaxation periods. It champions a green philosophy.

✓ Bikram Yoga is the style taught by Bikram Choudhury. Bikram Choudhury, who achieved fame as the teacher of Hollywood stars, teaches at the Yoga College of India in Bombay and other locations around the world, including San Francisco and Tokyo. This style, which has a set routine of 26 postures, is fairly vigorous and requires a certain fitness level for participation, especially because it calls for a high room temperature.

You also may hear or see a mention of other Yoga styles, including Tri Yoga (developed by Kali Ray), White Lotus Yoga (developed by Ganga White and Tracey Rich), Jivamukti (developed by Sharon Gannon and David Life), Ishta Yoga (an acronym for the Integrated Science of Hatha, Tantra, and Ayurveda, developed by Mani Finger), Forrest Yoga (a mixture of Hatha Yoga and Native American ideas created by Ana Forrest), and Prime of Life Yoga (developed by me [Larry]) for midlife and beyond.

Hot Yoga isn't really a style itself; it just means that the practice occurs in a high-temperature room (90 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit). It usually refers to either Ashtanga Yoga or Bikram Yoga.

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