Yoga has been part of the Eastern culture for thousands of years, however has now gained a notable presence in the West, mainly as a stress management tool. With our increasingly hectic lifestyles, we are constantly seeking means to escape and manage them better.
he East views the human system as a network of energy, with over 72,000 channels (nadis), which allow the flow of energy or life force (Prana) and information. As stress accumulates in the physiology, it starts to stop this free flow of energy and information in the system, creating blockages in the channels. Due to this, the mind and body become tense and less efficient.
In the East the primary purpose of yoga is a spiritual one. It is an inward journey, accompanied by asanas (postures), deep breathing and meditation. It is a journey into a deep relaxation, reality and wakefulness. It allows you to go beyond your thousands of thoughts in a day and discover who you really are. This is how yoga brings about union of the environment, our body, mind and soul. This is the essence of yoga.
Understanding most popular yoga styles (sub-title)
What is it? Most antenatal classes are traditional Hatha yoga moves tailored for the pregnant women.
Who does it? Dannii Minogue and Elle Macpherson and yummy mummies everywhere.
What it does? Specifically focuses on alleviating back pain and ankles swollen by water retention in pregnancy. It can improve sleep if done regularly.
What is it? A popular UK gym class, this is fast-paced, aerobic adaptation of Ashtanga.
Who does it? Lady Gaga and Ellen DeGeneres. Fashionable fitness enthusiasts; Shilpa Shetty helped to popularise it.
What it does? Its athletic approach offers a total body workout. It improves fitness and balance; burns calories.
What is it? Vinyasa means “breath-synchronised movement” and the entire class focuses on the sun salutation series of postures. Each posture is held for an extended period and the class moves at a super-slow pace with no break between asanas.
Who does it? Jennifer Aniston, Drew Barrymore. Those looking to escape the rigours of life during their lunch hour.
What it does? The continuous flow of repetitive postures enables a relaxed, meditative mindset.
What is it? Kundalini yoga has a reputation for being esoteric. Much of the practice is linked to practice of mantras (sacred sounds in ancient languages such as Gurmukhi) to awaken sacred dormant energy within your psyche, Kundalini. It is considered to be the most ancient yoga style, and known as a “mother of all yoga”.
Who does it? Russell Brand, Rachel McAdams, Jake Gyllenhaal.
What it does? Kundalini can increase strength, flexibility, balance and endurance, although the Kundalini Yoga has the most variety of postures, many of them could be challenging because they are held for a long periods oftentimes. When practiced properly and under the guidance of a certified Kundalini instructor, poses should stimulate glands, and cleanse and tone the body.
By Olga Tarabashkina