Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Iyengar yoga

Iyengar yoga
Similar to Hatha, but focuses heavily on proper body alignment during the asanas (poses) and improving balance. This is prop-heavy yoga, using blankets, bolsters, straps and blocks to help maintain poses longer and more accurately.

Best for : People who want more fitness benefits but still desire a relaxing, risk-free workout. Those with specific problems like back pain can easily use the props to modify poses.

Not for : Again, anyone who is seeking a full-on workout might be disappointed with this type of yoga. However, a lot depends on the instructor – some Iyengar classes include an intensive series of standing poses that can provide more vigorous exercise.

Kundalini yoga
Combining the spiritual and physical sides of yoga, Kundalini classes involve a fast-paced routine of poses while stressing proper breathing and meditation. Moving through the asanas (some of which can be quite challenging), you awaken your chakras (the seven centers of consciousness), which allows the mind to open, and tension to disperse.

Best for : Anyone who desires a more spiritual yoga, while still getting a good workout.

Not for : Meditation and chanting is not for everyone, and Kundalini puts a heavy emphasis on the mind-body connection. Those new to yoga that might be scared off by the spiritual side of Kundalini may want to start with a Hatha or Iyengar class instead.

Hatha yoga:

Hatha yoga:
Probably the most popular form of yoga in the U.S., Hatha concentrates on relaxation, vitality and meditation and involves a gentle, slow flow of poses.

Best for : Those who want to gently stretch muscles and learn to use the breath to relax and deal with stress; older or infirm people.

Not for : People who want a more vigorous workout. Hatha tends to be a “beginner-friendly” practice, and does not raise the heart rate anywhere near an aerobic range.

What is the Best Yoga for me

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of yoga. However, you may not be aware of just how powerful this ancient practice can be. Recent studies have shown that yoga can alleviate insomnia, depression and anxiety; reduce back pain; and boost your immunity to heart disease. But even more importantly, there are many different types of yoga, making it a truly equal-opportunity activity – even those with restrictions or injuries can reap the benefits. While those who desire a strenuous workout can seek out Ashtanga or power yoga classes, there are also modified versions of the practice that cater to the elderly, the pregnant, or the sick.

Read on to learn about the different varieties of yoga, and discover the style that fits your individual lifestyle, health, and fitness goals.

Changing Perceptions : Yoga as exercise

Skeptics say that yoga classes are not intense enough to burn sufficient calories for weight loss. A recent study, however, suggests that yoga does in fact aid in weight loss.

15,000 middle-aged adults were followed for a 10-year period at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center of Seattle, WA. Some of the participants took yoga classes while others didn’t. At the end of the study, those who hadn’t practiced yoga gained on average18 pounds more than those who had practiced. Participants who were already overwight at the onset of the study showed even more interesting results. Those without a regular yoga practice gained around 13 pounds in a 10-year period. By contast, without trying any other specific diet or exercise plan, the overweight participants who incorporated yoga into their lives lost 5 pounds.

It’s not totally clear how yoga affects weight loss, but it’s probably due to the strong mind-body connection it requires. The beauty of yoga is that it is not only gentle on the body, but it teaches us to enjoy the journey rather than the destination. By learning better ways of breathing, standing, balancing and stretching, our bodies and minds can achieve better health without the risks inherent in many competitive sports and goal-oriented fitness classes.