The Western World's Variations on Yoga Practices

Yoga has evolved over the centuries and currently is performed in different styles. Knowing about these evolved styles would be very helpful to those starting to do Yoga. Most commonly performed Yoga variations are Hatha, Kundalini, Bikram and Ashtanga, as well as others not as popular.

Hatha Yoga

Also known as Hatha Vidya, Hatha arose in 15th century India as a preparatory stage in purifying the body for higher meditation.

Hatha comes from two words, ‘Ha’ and ‘Tha,’ sun and moon, which are considered to be the fundamental channels of energy of the body that must be totally functioning in order to reach a state of concentrated meditation. 'Hatha' is defined in Sanskrit as forceful.  Hatha yoga is the style most people in the western world associate with Yoga and most commonly practiced for mental and physical wellbeing. In Hatha yoga classes, focus is on the traditional poses as well as breathing exercises. For one just starting Yoga, this style would be the practical one to follow as s/he is still establishing her/his tempo.

Kundalini Yoga

Unlike the other yoga styles, Kundalini applies other poses and breathing techniques. In this adaptation, the goal is attaining a higher stage of consciousness in directing the energy via the body's chakras.  A book on kundalini yoga illustrates it to be "the body's latent spiritual potential.” Energy is portrayed like a coiled snake at the bottom of the spinal column.

Kundalini's meditations involve chanting while it is being done.  The breathing techniques include vigorous exhalations through the nose while most asanas are performed in a sitting position.

Ashtanga Yoga

The Ashtanga style varies from hatha in the smooth and more specific moves. The movements in Ashtanga is such that one sequence of positions is such that each change is in one breath. Vinyasa is the term applied to the synchronized breath-movement and longtime devotees perform these swiftly. The reason for this style is to stir up sweat which is essential to expelling toxins out of the body to cleanse it. The swift and flowing movements likewise help in blood circulation.  This style would be better performed by those who've been performing the asanas regularly.

Bikram Yoga

Bikram yoga is best done in a room heated up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit and a humidity of 40%. This style is commonly called ‘hot yoga.’ The heat is essential for protecting the stretching muscles while providing improved cardiovascular workout.  It also smooth-ens circulation and removes toxins from the body.  Since there is high level of heat and humidity, yoga newcomers should best come to class well hydrated.

Other Styles

Other modifications in yoga styles have developed, among these are Lyengar yoga, which employs straps to facilitate body alignment .  There's also Sivanada, involving chanting, meditation and vegan lifestyle and Viniyoga which has postures that are customized as per the needs of the practitioners. Now there are yoga styles customized for particular doers like children or women and goals like loss of weight.

Check out Fitness Kamloops for more yoga info.

Another highly recommended article is Amazing Physical, Mental, Spiritual Wellness With Yoga