kickWhat is Yoga?
(adapted from yoga journal article http://www.yogajournal.com/basics/820)

Yoga means “to yoke” or to bind and is about union of a method of discipline. There are eight limbs of yoga as written in the Yoga Sutra and the one we focus on the most in the classroom is the third limb, asana, which is the program of physical postures designed to purify the body and provide the physical strength and stamina required for long periods of meditation.

Styles of Yoga

Like branches on a tree, there are many styles of physical asana. All branch from Hatha yoga. Below are just a few of many that I teach and practice in:

Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga

 Ashtanga means eight limbs and  involves synchronizing the breath with a progressively more challenging set series of postures. This process produces intense internal heat and a purifying sweat that detoxifies muscles and organs. It is a vigorous moving mediation that helps us develop a strong, light body and a quiet, steady mind.  It is taught the same each time which allows us to see the ebbs and flows inside ourselves.  The practice is the same, but what we experience on the mat is an expression of what is going on in our lives.  We start off in the Primary Series of Ashtanga Yoga and mostly get through about half of this.  This is my current practice which I do six days a week and I am so grateful to be able to share this with you.

 Power/Vinyasa (Powerflow) Yoga

Similar to ashtanga, Power Yoga is a vigorous practice synchronized with breath but does not follow a set sequence. Whether practiced in a heated or non-heated room, this style has a key emphasis on strength and flexibility. It has an intense flowing style which has made it one of the more popular styles of yoga out there today.  Think of it as the Western version on an Eastern classic.  It is sequenced with different themes such as arm balances, hip openers, backbends and twists all done with fun contemporary music with a beat.  If you were looking for a gentle soft style of light yoga, you came to the wrong class.

 Gentle/Beginner Vinyasa (Flow) Yoga

“So I would like to do yoga but I am not very flexible.  What kind should I do?”  This kind is a start.  The beginner yoga that I teach is a gentle vinyasa done at a slower pace that works more with learning the movements, and creates openings in the body.  The pace is slower so that there is more time to learn things about the asanas (poses) but most importantly, the slower pace allows us to learn more about our own bodies and what it can and cannot do.  Think of it as a dance class.  In order to bust out all those flashy moves, we will need to learn the basic steps.  Here in this class we focus on breath awareness, body alignment and work with the hips and spine to create gentle openings that will allow the practitioner an opportunity to grow in knowledge, flexibility and confidence.  Many students have “graduated” themselves to some of the more challenging styles while many continue to enjoy this class.  Afterwards, it is not so uncommon to feel restful and have what many yogis refer to as yoga brain! J

 Yin Yoga

Yin yoga is a more passive style of yoga where postures are held for a longer duration in the body to create deeper openings in the connective tissue. Although a yin yoga practice may affect all of the joints in the body, it’s primary concern is with the hips and the spine.  If I ever sub for a stretch class, or if I ever get a “Stretch” or “Yoga Stretch” class on my schedule, you can be sure this is the style that I will be teaching.  Sometimes this style is sequenced with Power Yoga and the two complement each other well.  This Yin/Yang style is suitable for students at a variety of levels and the strength of the one half balances out the deep openings of the other.  It’s fun to mix it up!

 Restorative Yoga

Restorative Yoga is the use of props to support the body in positions of comfort and ease to facilitate relaxation, healing and well-being. Postures are held for longer lengths of time then in a normal yoga class and have an incredibly high benefit to relieving chronic stress.  I get the most request from students to know where I am teaching this and currently I teach more of these as private classes where students either come to see me or I travel (with props) to their homes.  Think of this as the deep rested stillness that you never get to have.  Bliss.

 Laughter Yoga

Ho!  Ho!  Ha-Ha-Ha! Laughter Yoga is a combination of simulated laughter exercises and gentle yogic style breathing exercises and stretches along with lots of childlike playfulness that stimulates your natural flow of spontaneous laughter.  You don’t need to hear jokes or have a sense of humour to laugh.  You don’t need a reason to laugh.  You don’t even need to be happy to laugh.  Laughter Yoga is a non-humour based form of laughter accessible to people of all ages.  This is sometimes that I teach the most for teach-building workshops in corporate environments.  No physical flexibility or yogic ability is required.  A willingness to be open to having a new laughter experience is.  It’s always way more fun than you ever think it’s going to be. J