When we think of yoga, we generally think of downward dog, flexibility, and Lululemon pants. And while these are definitely a big part of the yoga culture, there is so much more to it than that! The style of yoga that most of us are familiar with is called Vinyasa Yoga, which is where you’ll find poses like Warrior 1, Down Dog, Sun Salutations, etc. I originally began practicing Vinyasa yoga, but after a few years I began trying out new styles, and I completely fell in love.
I want to introduce you to three of my favourite styles of yoga: Kundalini, Yin, and Jivamukti.
A note before we move on- In the Western World, we’ve come to see the physical practice as synonymous with yoga, but it is actually just one aspect of it. Yoga translates to union, and the entire practice is about dissolving the boundaries of our smaller self and uniting with the greater cosmos. Meditation, breath work, mindfulness, scripture, love, and presence are all ways that we can practice yoga.
Yin: Yin yoga derives its name from the concept behind the Yin Yang sign. Where the white part of the sign represents yang energy (i.e. masculine, fiery, action oriented), the black portion represented feminine energy (i.e. cool, intuitive, fluid, expansive). An active class like Vinyasa is considered to be yang like, and it works the muscles. In Yin yoga, we tap into a deeper more feminine energy with long held poses (typically 3-5 minutes per pose) that work on lengthening the connective tissues of the body, rather than the muscles. The long held poses allow for a much deeper opening than a Yang class. Yin is an amazing accompaniment to any active physical practice- the long held poses open your body, release stagnant energy, and calm restless minds.
Kundalini: Kundalini yoga is often referred to as “the fast track yoga” because it claims to deliver spiritual and physical benefits much faster than other styles of yoga. Unlike most yoga practiced in the West, Kundalini classes always integrate breath work and meditation along with the physical practice, and they place a lot of emphasis on the energetic body. The poses, or kriyas as they are called in Kundalini, will look nothing like those in a Vinyasa class. A Kundalini class will challenge you physically, mentally, and emotionally. I highly recommend these classes to anyone looking to delve into the more spiritual side of yoga.
Jivamukti: Jivamukti yoga is so much fun! This style was created by Shannon Gannon and David Life in the 80s, and like Kundalini, it focuses on spiritual enlightenment. The physical practice is similar to that of Vinyasa, but Jivamukti classes also integrates meditation, mantras, scripture, and really fun music! Another thing I love about this style of yoga is that the teachers are big on alignment and hands on assisting. I have learned some of my best alignment tips and adjustments from Jivamukti classes. Check out Jivamukti if you want a serious physical workout, spiritual guidance, and great music.
What are your favourite practices? We’d love to hear from you!
p.s. Interested in trying these style but don’t know of any classes in your area? My favourite way to practice is online with Gaiam TV! They offer a vide variety of classes from some of the world’s best teachers.
Kate is the blogger behind My Spiritual Roadtrip, where she writes about health, happiness, and her spiritual journey. She is also a writer, eBook author, and yoga teacher ,and she is obsessed with smoothies and traveling. Follow her adventures on Instagram and her blog! www.instagram.com/myspiritualroadtrip www.myspiritualroadtrip.com
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September 3, 2015 By Nicole Grodesky