Experts believe that yoga has been practised for over 6000 years, with its origins firmly rooted in India. Nowadays, there are many different versions of yoga, but they all have the same ultimate goal of integrating the mind and the body. Thursday 21st June marks International Day of Yoga, a day which celebrates this physical, mental and spiritual practice and with the hope of encouraging more people to experience the benefits it can bring to everyday life.
There is a common misconception that yoga is slow, boring and only for people that are flexible, but this is completely not the case. With the ever growing and developing styles of yoga, there is quite simply a class to suit everyone. Let’s take a look at the some of these more common styles:
This is best suited to those people who like to work up a sweat and really feel as though they have worked their body, as this is one of the more vigorous types of yoga. An instructor will take you through a series of poses, with each pose being held for five breaths. This is then broken up with a half sun salutation, basically some easy stuff and a bit of a break for all you yoga novices out there, before undertaking the next series of poses.
This is very similar to Ashtanga and many of the positions are the same, however it is approached in a slightly way, with much more focus on learning the subtleties of correct alignment. It is common to use equipment, such as belts, blocks and bolster pillows to achieve this alignment.
This is probably one of the most commonly known styles of yoga; it’s the one that makes you sweat! Created in the early 1970s by the Indian yogi, Bikram Choudray, it consists of 26 yoga poses, which stretch and strengthen the muscles whilst compressing and cleansing the organs of the body. Classes are run in a heated room, which aids the release of toxins from the body.
This yoga style concentrates more on meditation and breathing techniques with the purpose of releasing energy into the spine. Yoga postures are combined with alternate nostril breathing and lots of chanting.
Jivamukti means ‘liberation while living’ and holds strong belief in the benefits of applying yogic philosophy to everyday life. Founded in 1984, by David Life and Sharon Gannon, Jivamukti often includes chanting, music and scripture readings.
Yin yoga is fantastic for beginners and a great way to really learn the very basics of meditation. Originating from Taoist tradition, its primary focus is on seated postures that target the connective tissues in the hips, pelvis and lower spine. This is less about physical conditioning, but more on mindfulness and wellbeing and is often recommended to people who are stressed and need to relax more; great for id you have had a bad day at the office!
As can probably be guessed by the name, restorative yoga is all about healing the mind and body. It is very similar in style to yin yoga, but poses can be held for up to double the length of time, so there is even greater emphasis on relaxation.
Here’s the one you’ve all been waiting for, and no we haven’t just made this up. The current trend amongst hip yoga students is indeed silent disco yoga. Let’s set the scene for you to get more understanding about what this type of yoga is all about. Imagine if you will, a room with a makeshift stage in which a DJ is seemingly pretending to spin some tunes, because there is no music coming out of the speakers. On the floor in front of the DJ is lots of people, all wearing wireless headphones and stylish fluorescent yoga wear that wouldn’t look out of place in a nightclub.
The music, along with the instructor’s voice, can in fact be heard through these wireless headphones. So in a completely silent room, each yoga student is enjoying their own private disco, without the distraction of other ambient noise. CEO of Sound Off, Castel Valere-Couturier, says, “It’s very cool. People say they’ve never felt so connected to the instructor before. I reached out to Yoga BamBam in Hong Kong—they freaked out when they heard the idea. For the first class, we did acroyoga in the park as a trial run, followed by sunrise and sunset yoga sessions right on the beach, which couldn’t have amplified sound. People loved it. Whether it’s indoor or outdoor, I think the shared intimate experience it creates where you’re completely in the zone is what makes it special”. Being able to completely switch off from the world, whilst using the beats of suitably chosen music to fluidly glide through each yoga pose fully encompasses the original purpose of yoga in a very modern way. What a contemporary spin on a way to integrate the mind and body. We love it!
Which leaves us with only one last thing to say…