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    Tuesday, August 11, 2009

    Simply Yoga

    I get asked the question "What type of yoga do you teach?" often and I hear that people are sometimes confused about what yoga is and what types of classes they should take. First of all, yoga is not a religion and it did not come from religion--its just about creating awareness, that's all. Its really not that difficult to understand and the less you try to understand it intellectually, the less confused you will be--yoga is more about experiencing it. For a cool brief history of yoga click here.

    Next, practicing yoga is not necessarily sedentary. Active people are often not drawn to yoga because they say they can't sit still for that long. How active or sedentary yoga is depends on the teacher and what kind of class you go to. Also, how spiritual and chanty class is depends again on the type of yoga and the teacher. So, here is a super basic run down:

    Hatha Yoga--all of the following are Hatha Yoga--Hatha Yoga means that a practice is made up of postures (asanas), meditation, and breathwork (pranayama).

    Iyengar, Anusara--work for long periods of time with alignment in poses. Classes are good for those with injuries or a super active lifestyle.

    Ashtanga, Power, Vinyasa, Flow--move from pose to pose, sometimes quickly. Class is good for those who have a sedentary lifestyle and need some movement. Does tend to be more difficult.

    Bikram and Hot--like the flow classes, but done in a hot room. Good for winter time, those who are more sedentary, and those who need to detox. Not good for people who are sensitive to heat, or I would imagine not good for menopausal women.

    Yin--slow moving and more passive approach to poses. Therapeutic.

    ViniYoga--Therapeutic, usually one on one to restore postural problems.

    Kundalini--works with the breath, can be vigorous or slow moving, has more chanting.

    You can read a more in depth article about yoga styles here and here.

    Most classes and DVDs will explain what kind of yoga they are, but keep in mind, that classes can vary depending on the teacher and the mood of the teacher. I recommend trying different classes and different teachers. Same with DVDs--get lots of different kinds and try them out. Some teachers you will love, some will get on your nerves. Some DVDs you will reach for on low energy days and some you will reach for on high energy days. One day the teacher who once got on your nerves might even be your favorite--don't be afraid to try different styles and different teachers--variety is the spice of life. Yes, you might waste you money on a class or DVD you don't like sometimes, but you will never learn about yourself if you don't take risks. Don't pigeon hole yourself to be one type of person and so never try something because you don't think you would like it. You might be surprised.

    To learn about me and the style of yoga that I teach click here--Andria Davis.

    One big word of caution is if you are an athlete and you work out alot, you probably need to stay away from the super vigorous styles of yoga. I did this mistakenly thinking that the yoga was restoring my body and instead, I got overuse injuries. I ended up having to take time off of yoga postures, working out, and all sports. It was maddening. So, now, since I work out pretty vigorously, I use yoga as a more restorative practice. Although, when I am in a more sedentary period in life, I do still practice some vigorous styles--I just have learned to pay better attention to what my body needs.

    And last, don't be afraid to be still...what is it that you are afraid of anyway? I have learned to slow down and pay attention more to the details of life because I learned to sit down and meditate sometimes (although I lie down to meditate since I have endured so many back injuries due to extreme sports). I will get more into this later, but learning to move slowly, do breathwork and meditate have made me better in my activities and have just made life, well, more lively.


    1. "...people are sometimes confused about what yoga is...." the confusion of the Yogas (Progressive religious/spiriual disciplines of Hinduism)is based in the mirepresentation, exploitation of Yoga and many people refusing to face the FACTS, here are some:
      ~Sanskrit: The ancient language of the Hindus [Webster's] Note: all subsequent terms are Sanskrit (Skr.) and thus Hindu
      ~Aum/Om: The most sacred syllable in Hinduism [Oxford World Religions]
      ~yoga: Skr. "Hinduism" [Webster's]
      ~yoga: Oneness of Atmana and Brahman [Dict. of Skr. Names]
      ~yogi/yogini: (male/female) Hindu Ascetic [Oxford World Rel.]
      ~Atmana: Skr. Self/Spirit; Hinduism [Webster's]
      ~Brahman: Skr. Hindu Religion [Webster's]
      ~yoga: Skr. A Hindu discipline [Oxford Am. Dict.]
      ~ yoga: Skr. A system of Hindu religious philosophy [Thorndike Barnhardt]
      ~yoga: Skr. general term for spiritual disciplines in Hinduism [Columbia Encyclopedia]
      ~Swami: Skr. Title of respect of a (Hindu) Holy man or teacher. [Oxford World Religions]
      ~Guru: Skr. A teacher of worldly skills...more often of religious knowledge...liberation (Moksa). [Oxford World religions]
      ~Moksa: Release/liberation - the fourth and ultimate goal of Hinduism. [Oxf. World Religion]
      ~Veda Skr. The most ancient sacred literature of the Hindus. [Webster's]
      ~The first recorded evidence of the Skr. word "yoga" is found in the Vedas."Seers of the vast illumined Seer yogically control their minds and intelligence." Rig Veda V.81.
      ~Upanishads: Text in Hinduism which ends or completes the Vedic corpus (body of [Hindu] laws)[Oxf. World Religions]

    2. I believe that Hinduism (the religion) actually came out of yoga, since yoga is older than Hinduism. So did Buddhism and Taoism. The way I see it, there are no facts--don't mistake what you read in books for facts. Everything is relative and subject to change at any time. And the word "Hinduism" often means the culture of the people on the Indian subcontinent, not the religion. But no need to get wrapped up in what is and what isn't and what came from where and instead focus our energies on self improvement and relationships and experiencing the world. :-)

    3. Andria - Who were the people doing yoga practices? There must be a people before a religion or practice. Those people were Hindus...people of the (H)Indus River/Valley region, subsequently referred to as (H)indus and their religious/spiritual practices as the yogas. The first mention of yoga was in the Hindu text, Rig Veda. So, how to you prove the statement "yoga is older than Hinduism." is illogical. As to statements like "there are no facts", "Everything is relative and subject to change at any time."...there are common sense observable facts, or we could not communicate, your name is not Andria, my neigbors child is mine, a thief can take whatever from your home/bank account, pour boiling water over your hand...why not if no facts or relativity? Next time you are seriously hurt ask not to go to hospitol but be taken to the book store...maybe it changed to a medical facililty and kept old name up on sign. Now, "And the word "Hinduism" often means the culture of the people on the Indian subcontinent, not the religion."...tell that to the Muslims, Christians, Jews, etc., living in India. Yes,Hinduism is a culture in it is a way of life for Hindus as any religion to be effective is for its adherents. Where is the "self improvement and relationships and experiencing the world." when one denies the understanding is that first we live in this world ethically (for instance, not distort/uproot/misrepresent/exploit Hinduism) before we can transcend it. Changing the meaning of words and disrespecting/discriminating Yoga/Hinduism and Hindus is not good Karma:-). One must ask, why are phoney yogis/yoginis afrid of facts but comfortably live with baseless opinions?