Yoga means "union" in Sanskrit, the language of ancient India where yoga originated. We can think of the union occurring between the mind, body and spirit.

The words Asana and Yoga are often used interchangeably here in the west. There are many different styles of yoga being taught and practiced today. Although all of the styles are based on the same physical postures (called poses), each has a particular emphasis. Here is a quick guide to the most popular types of yoga.

HATHA
hatha Hatha is a very general term that can encompass many of the physical types of yoga. If a class is described as Hatha style, it is probably going to be slow-paced and gentle and provide a good introduction to the basic yoga poses.

VINYASA
Like Hatha, Vinyasa is a general term that is used to describe many different types of classes. Vinyasa, which means breath-synchronized movement, tends to be a more vigorous style based on the performance of a series of poses called sun salutations, in which movement is matched to the breath. A Vinyasa class will typically start with a number of Sun Salutations to warm up the body for more intense stretching that's done at the end of class.

ASHTANGA & POWER YOGA
A set series of poses is performed, always in the same order. Ashtanga practice is very physically demanding because of the constant movement from one pose to the next. Ashtanga is also the inspiration for what is often called power yoga. If a class is described as Power Yoga, it will be based on the flowing style of Ashtanga, but not necessarily keep strictly to the set Ashtanga series of poses.

IYENGAR
Based on the teachings of the yogi B.K.S Iyengar, this style of practice is most concerned with bodily alignment. The word alignment is used to describe the precise way in which your body should be positioned in each pose in order to obtain the maximum benefits and avoid injury. Iyengar usually emphasizes holding poses over long periods versus moving quickly from one pose to the next. Also, Iyengar practice encourages the use of props, such as yoga blankets, blocks and straps, in order to bring the body into alignment.

KUNDALINI
The emphasis in Kundalini is on the breath in conjunction with physical movement, with the purpose of freeing energy in the lower body and allowing it to move upwards. All asana practices make use of controlling the breath but in Kundalini, the exploration of the effects of the breath (also called prana, meaning energy) on the postures is essential. Kundalini uses rapid, repetitive movements and the teacher will often lead the class in call and response chanting.

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BIKRAM/HOT YOGA
Pioneered by Bikram Choudhury, this style is more generally referred to as 'Hot Yoga'. It is practiced in a 95 to 100 degree room, which allows for a loosening of tight muscles and profuse sweating, which is thought to be cleansing. The Bikram method is generally set around a series of 26 poses.

YIN YOGA Practice
Yin yoga, so named because of its correspondence to the Taoist concept of yin, it is a very distinct style of Chinese yoga similar to hatha yoga that stretches . Experientially, the practice is characterized by passive asanas held for several minutes each. Some believe that yin yoga is the oldest form of hatha yoga, since it is the ideal method of physical conditioning for prolonged meditation, which is the principal concern of the ancient practice.

Yin yoga is often prescribed as a method of preparing for meditation postures.

Yin yoga targets connective tissue, specifically ligaments and tendons in the joints and spine. Over time, practice of yin yoga can lengthen these tissues, increasing range of motion. To convey the role that connective tissue plays in determining range of motion, muscles account for about forty percent of the resistance against the body's flexibility, while connective tissue accounts for about fifty percent.

In order to lengthen the connective tissue, the practitioner holds an asana (posture), engaging in static stretching. This applies stress, in the form of slight tension to the muscle and connective tissue in the targeted region. The muscle, more elastic than the connective tissue, responds immediately, lengthening to its limit. When the muscle is fully stretched, the stress reaches the connective tissue, which is not elastic and does not immediately lengthen. In order to affect the connective tissue, stress must be applied for several minutes at a time. In yin yoga, asanas are usually held for three to five minutes, but can be held for as long as twenty minutes.

Yin asanas are almost entirely passive and do not usually include what would usually be classified as standing asanas or balance poses. During the asana, muscles are relaxed to avoid strain and over fatigue resulting in increased energy flow through the meridians. There are only about thirty-five asanas that are taught by most yin yoga teacher, though this number will vary from source to source, and most poses have one or more variations.

Yin yoga can provide effective results for decreasing stress, anxiety and tension there fore allowing free flow of energy to all the body systems, ligaments, tendons and joints.

For more information on Yoga or to schedule a private session:

Bonnie Bartle

Website: www.parkercoloradoyoga.com
Email: bsbartle@msn.com
Phone: 303-229-4155 or 303-805-7896

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