The various styles of yoga can be grouped into a few broad, general categories. Understanding your needs and fitness level, you can focus your yoga search on one or more of the following general approaches to yoga practice.
Having taken into account your yoga goals and your level of fitness, perhaps you've decided you would like to try a yoga practice that's physically demanding. You may be looking for a strenuous approach to the physical postures of yoga that strengthens your muscles, while also working out your heart. Maybe you feel that you have to sweat to be your own ideal yogi. If that's the case, then you might want to investigate the following styles of yoga: Ashtanga Yoga (vigorous flowing yoga); Iyengar Yoga (physically demanding in its precision); Bikram Yoga (performed in superheated studios); Jivamukti Yoga (physically demanding, eclectic urban yoga); kundalini yoga (challenging both physically and psychoenergetically); and ISHTA Yoga, Power Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, or White Lotus Yoga (all drawing in varying degrees of Ashtanga Yoga).
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After taking stock of your yoga needs, maybe you realize you don't have to huff and puff to feel like you're a real man doing real yoga. Maybe a more relaxing style of yoga that will help you strengthen and stretch more gently is what you're looking for. Then you might want to consider one of the following styles of yoga. Practicing one of the foundational approaches to yoga may be right for you: You can select from yoga taught by Ananda Yoga, the Himalayan Institute, Integral Yoga, Sivananda Yoga, or, for a more contemporary adaptation, Kripalu Yoga. You might also wish to investigate Gary Krafstow's Viniyoga, which can help you fine-tune your practice to wherever you may be in your life's journey.
If you're interested in perfecting your yoga poses to reach that idealized perfect alignment, then the premier method of yoga for you may well be Iyengar Yoga. Anusara Yoga and Viniyoga might also interest you. Finally, many teachers who are trained in the Ashtanga Yoga tradition and its derivative styles can help you improve your alignment in postures. If you have a double goal of practicing a demanding style of yoga while also improving your yoga alignment, you may want to investigate Ashtanga Yoga, ISHTA Yoga, Power Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, and White Lotus Yoga.
Perhaps you're coming to yoga out of a specific need to help relieve a particular problem or problems—physical, mental, or emotional. Then you'll be pleased to know that there are styles of yoga that can help you achieve this goal. Iyengar Yoga has developed an entire approach to the practice of yoga that draws heavily on the use of props to help you deal with physical limitations and challenges (and who among us doesn't have some limitations?). Integrative Yoga Therapy has trained many teachers specifically to assist people with health problems. Kundalini yoga may help you to connect to core emotional and mental issues. Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy uses assisted postures and talk therapy to help you not only physically, but also mentally and emotionally. Hidden Language of Hatha Yoga tries to help you connect with the hidden meaning and currents of energy underlying the physical postures of hatha yoga.
Perhaps the yoga practice that's right for you doesn't involve a lot of physical exertion using the traditional postures of hatha yoga. Maybe you're really interested in exploring yoga's rich spiritual tradition and connecting with your inner self through the mind. Then you might want to consider other ways of custom-tailoring a yoga program to suit your needs. Many of the major yoga institutes detailed in the chapters on hatha yoga offer courses in meditation, study of the major spiritual texts that form the basis for yoga, or yogic breathing techniques that can help you to connect to your inner being. Chief among these are the Himalayan Institute, Integral Yoga, Kripalu Yoga, and Sivananda Yoga. You may also want to explore tantric yoga, which uses rituals, such as mantra recitation, and ceremonies to help you connect to the divinity within. You may want to explore karma yoga, the path of self-discovery through service to others. Or you may be an independent type, wishing to read and practice yoga on your own in your own way. In that case, you may want to consult some of the books on yoga in the Bibliography of this book, or visit your local library or bookstore and choose the resource that speaks to your inner knowing.
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