Module IV - Styles and lineages

AcroYoga

A style of partner yoga that involves one person as the base and another person “flying” in various poses balanced on the base’s feet and a third, the spotter.  It is a challenging physical practice that blends elements of yoga, acrobatics, performance and healing arts.

Ashtanga

A lineage headed by Indian guru Sri K Pattabhi Jois, even the first series of this style is extremely physically challenging.  It involves a prescribed sequence of sun salutations A and B, followed by standing, balancing, seated, twisting and reclining poses.  More advanced Ashtanga practices include bandhas (internal locks) and drishti (focused gaze).  Ashtanga is the precursor for most vigorous styles of hatha yoga, including its most commonly taught derivatives, Power Yoga and Vinyasa.

Detox Flow

A dynamic practice in a heated room focusing on stimulating the digestive system with the purpose of aiding the detoxification of the body.  Practice includes sequences of poses including twists, bends and stretches that massage the digestive organs.

Hot

Hatha and/or vinyasa yoga practised in a heated room.  In this way, it is similar to Bikram yoga, but due to Choudhury’s copyrights, hot yoga teachers are not legally allowed to use his sequence unless they have gone through the official Bikram teacher training.

Kids

Due to the shorter attention span of young children, a kids’ yoga class may incorporate games and stories and move more quickly from pose to pose.

Partner

This style involves two people executing poses together.  AcroYoga and Thai Yoga Massage are two polar examples of partner yoga.

Restorative

In this style, the poses are all done lying on the floor in various positions using lots of bolsters, blankets and blocks to enable the practitioner to relax completely and stay in the pose for several minutes.

Universal

This class follows the tradition developed by Andrey Lappa, which weaves modern western science and ancient eastern wisdom together, and seeks to influence the practitioners’ life on and off the mat.  Universal Yoga combines the practice of vinyasa with pranayama, visualisation, mantra, mudra and meditation.  These elements are carefully sequenced in a symmetrical and progressive manner, making practitioners feel a strong sense of balance and serenity at the end of each class. The arrangement of the mats in this class may be cross-shaped.

Yin Yang

An asana practice that blends strengthening and softening elements with the purpose of balancing the body.  It is both an invigorating practice combined with long held deep stretches to cultivate a focused and meditative mind.

Aerial

This specialised practice combines traditional asanas with the use of a hammock.  The hammock reduces the effects of gravity and stress in the joints and spine; it also helps to build upper body and core strength and provides a medium for deep relaxation.  Additional gear with handle bars (yoga swing) may be used to aid the alignment of certain yoga postures

Baptiste Power Vinyasa

This dynamic practice follows the tradition developed by Baron Baptiste, which encourages students to follow a continuous flow of strong and challenging postures in a heated room.  The heat adds to the physical effort required to do the postures and aids to condition the body.  Practitioners are inspired to be authentic and present in their practice and translate these qualities into their lives.

Dharma

A style developed by Sri Dharma Mittra that incorporates Buddhist philosophies and teachings and a focus on Zen or Tibetan Buddhist techniques of meditation.  It comprises a system of classical Hatha-Raja Yoga; a devotional practice that emphasises good health, a clear mind and a kind heart.

Integral

Developed by Swami Satchidananda, the man who taught the crowds at the original Woodstock to chant "Om," Integral classes put almost as much emphasis on pranayama and meditation as they do on postures.  Integral yoga is used by Dr Dean Ornish in his groundbreaking work on reversing heart disease.

Called the yoga of consciousness, Kripalu puts great emphasis on proper breath, alignment, coordinating breath and movement, and "honoring the wisdom of the body" -- you work according to the limits of your individual flexibility and strength.  Alignment follows awareness.  Students learn to focus on the physical and psychological reactions caused by various postures to develop their awareness of mind, body, emotion and spirit.  There are three stages in Kripalu yoga.  Stage One focuses on learning the postures and exploring your bodies abilities.  Stage Two involves holding the postures for an extended time, developing concentration and inner awareness.  Stage Three is like a meditation in motion in which the movement from one posture to another arises unconsciously and spontaneously.

Rocket

This class follows the style of yoga developed by Larry Schultz, which is rooted in the first and second series of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga.  Rocket Yoga is an intense physical practice that works with the nervous system, build strength in both body and mind, and creates a transformative experience that make practitioners feel more alive.

Satyananda

An integral tradition developed by Sri Swami Satyananda Saraswati.  It uses yoga postures (asanas) to balance the body and mind, breathing techniques (pranayama) to connect to the energetic body, and meditation to calm the mind.

Viniyoga

Viniyoga is not so much a style as it is a methodology for developing practices for individual conditions and purposes.  This is the approach developed by Sri T Krishnamacharya.  Key characteristics of the asana practice are the careful integration of the flow of breath with movement of the spine, with sequencing, adaptations and intensity dependent upon the overall context and goals.  Function is stressed over form.  Practices may also include pranayama, meditation, reflection, study and other classic elements.

Yogalates

This features a combination of Yoga asanas with Pilates principles.  The practice is focused on postures and exercises that strengthen the core of the body, promoting stability and proper posture.

Ananda

Ananda Yoga is a classical style of hatha yoga that uses asana and pranayama to awaken, experience, and begin to control the subtle energies within oneself, especially the energies of the chakras.  Its object is to use those energies to harmonise body, mind, and emotions, and above all to attune oneself with higher levels of awareness.  One unique feature of this system is the use of silent affirmations while in the asanas as a means of working more directly and consciously with the subtle energies to achieve this attunement.  Ananda Yoga is a relatively gentle, inward experience, not an athletic or aerobic practice.  It was developed by Swami Kriyananda, a direct disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda, author of the spiritual classic, Autobiography of a Yogi.

Bikram

Headed by controversial Indian teacher Bikram Choudhury, it involves a prescribed series of 26 poses, each practised twice in a row, over 90 minutes in a room heated to around 39C / 104-105F with a humidity of 40%.

Forrest

A modern lineage headed by Los Angeles based teacher Ana Forrest.  Her style weaves yogic and Native American/Shamanic teachings.  Poses are typically held for many breath cycles.  Lots of core-strengthening and fierce balancing poses are integral to the Forrest Yoga practice.

Iyengar

A lineage headed by Indian guru BKS Iyengar, who taught and trained teachers at his centre in Pune, India, for decades.  The focus is on precise, correct alignment.  Yoga props including blocks and straps are often incorporated into the poses to enable practitioners to modify the pose to their level of ability.

This lineage’s founder is the Indian (Sikh) guru, Yogi Bhajan.  Serious Kundalini yoga practitioners wear all white garments, including a turban covering their hair, which they never cut.  Kundalini practices – called kriyas – typically involve fast, repetitive motions sustained for several minutes.  Breath of fire (quick, forceful exhalations through the nose) is done in many of the poses.  There is an emphasis on chanting, chakras and mantra meditation.

Power

Derivatives of Ashtanga fall under the umbrella of “power yoga”.  This vigorous style will inevitably include plenty of fast-paced sun salutations and other intermediate to advanced poses, flowing from one to the next.  Some of the most popular teachers of this style include Baron Baptiste, Bryan Kest and Shiva Rea.

Sivananda

This lineage follows the Sivananda Yoga tradition established by Swami Sivananda and spread by his disciple Swami Vishnudevananda.  This tradition integrates the 4 paths of yoga (Karma, Bhakti, Raja & Jnana) and seeks to develop physical and mental health as well as spiritual growth.  This class comprises of sun salutations, the 12 traditional Sivananda postures, and a final deep relaxation that allows the body to release unnecessary tensions and integrate the benefits of the physical practice.  This lineage also emphasises yogic philosophy and texts (especially the Bhagavad Gita) as well as chanting, meditation, pranayama and Ayurvedic nutrition.  Vishnudevananda wrote one of the contemporary yoga classics, The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga.  First published in 1960, the book is still one of the best introductions to yoga available.

Vinyasa

One of the most ubiquitous styles of modern yoga, Vinyasa involves flowing from one pose to the next with fluidity.  It is like Ashtanga, only it does not always involve the same sequence of poses in each class.  The terms “Vinyasa” and “Vinyasa flow” are interchangeable.  These types of classes vary greatly from teacher to teacher.

Anusara

Anusara means, "to step into the current of Divine Will", "following your heart", "flowing with Grace", "to move with the current of divine will."  A lineage established in 1997 by American yogi John Friend.  It was rocked by a scandal in 2012, which led to Friend stepping down from his leadership role.  Anusara style focuses on “attitude, alignment and action”.  Some of its principles of alignment include “opening to grace,” inner and outer spirals and various energy loops in the body.

Core

This specialised class focuses on strengthening the core muscles and improving the internal support and stability of the body.  Abdominal postures and breathing techniques are incorporated into the class to strengthen the connection between the upper and the lower body.

Hatha

The term “hatha yoga” technically encompasses all of the lineages.  However, when you see a class labelled “hatha,” it typically means that each pose is held for several breaths, versus flowing more quickly from one pose to the next.  Hatha classes are usually slower paced and more accessible to beginners than vinyasa/flow style classes.

Jivamukti

A modern lineage founded by NYC power couple David Life and Sharon Gannon.  This style involves chanting, sacred music (kirtan) and both hatha flow and sustained hatha poses – as well as an emphasis on meditation and pranayama (breathing exercises).

Mysore (See Ashtanga)

Named for the Indian city where Pattabhi Jois taught, it is a self-paced practice done early in the morning.  An instructor is there for guidance but does not lead the class as in a normal Ashtanga class.

Prenatal & Postnatal

Gentle hatha yoga modified for pregnant and post-partum women.  These practices omit deep backbends, deep twists and poses done lying on the belly, for obvious reasons.

Thai Yoga Massage

This style of partner yoga/massage originated in Thailand. Most of the poses involve one person giving an adjustment to the receiver (who is usually in a reclining position), using his or her hands, elbows and feet.  The focus is on energy lines and pressure points as taught in traditional Chinese medicine.

Yin

This style is all about letting go, releasing effort and surrendering muscular tension.  It seeks to deepen flexibility of the fascia, tendons and ligaments as opposed to just the muscles.  Most yin poses are performed on the floor. Yin poses are held for up to 10 minutes each.

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