To find a yoga style that jibes with you, first consider whether your intentions are mainly physical, emotional, or spiritual, says Hansa, president of Yoga Alliance, an organization that registers yoga teachers nationwide. (She uses only one name.) Some people practice yoga for strength and flexibility, some crave relaxation, and some seek a connection with a higher power. (Some want all four.) There is no right or wrong reason to practice yoga, but different styles fulfill different needs. Just as if you were placing a personals ad, you need to think about what you want before you get started.
Yoga’s popularity has exploded of late—18 million Americans now regularly twist themselves into pretzels, more than double the number in 1997. But the sheer variety of classes to choose from can be daunting. Here’s a primer to help you decide what’s right for you.
founder: Swami Kriyananda
What it is: A gentle approach to postures, ananda yoga emphasizes calming the mind in preparation for meditation. Holding the postures is said to create self-awareness, and affirmations are often incorporated to enhance the poses.
Sign on if: You’re looking for a deeply spiritual experience that also builds strength and balance.
For more information: www.expandinglight.org
founder: K. Pattabhi Jois
What it is: The foundation of many “power yoga” or “power flow” classes, this fast-moving series of breath work and sweat-inducing poses is said to purify the mind and body. The room isn’t heated, but you’ll sweat anyway.
Sign on if: You like pushing your muscles to the max and conquering new heights of cardio endurance.
For more information: www.ayri.org
founder: John Friend
What it is: A dual focus on principles of alignment and physical expressiveness gives practitioners an in-depth understanding of the poses as well as a strong dose of spirituality. Although physically challenging, the style emphasizes accepting each student’s abilities.
Sign on if: You seek a physical and spiritual workout and are internally driven.
For more information: www.anusara.com
founder: Bikram Choudhury
What it is: Known as “yoga to the stars” because of its popularity in Hollywood, Bikram consists of a 90-minute series of 26 poses. Ideally, classrooms are heated to 105 degrees with 60 percent humidity to facilitate stretching and loosening of muscles and tendons.
Sign on if: You have a high tolerance for heat and respond well to a highly charged, athletic environment.
For more information: www.bikramyoga.com
founder: B.K.S. Iyengar
What it is: Precision, alignment, and symmetry are key elements of an Iyengar class. Postures are held up to five minutes to build strength and encourage deep release. Props, such as blocks, belts, and blankets, help students hold difficult poses, but can also create a start-and-stop pace that some people don’t like.
Sign on if: You’re a detail-oriented person who likes to get things right, no matter how long it takes.
For more information: www.bksiyengar.com
founder: Swami Kripalvananda
What it is: Slow-paced classes focus on creating an emotionally and physically safe learning environment. Offers a strong emphasis on mind-body integration.
Sign on if: Relaxation is just as important to you as building strength and increasing flexibility.
For more information: www.kripalu.org
founder: Sikh master Yogi Bhajan
What it is: The focus is on freeing energy by awakening kundalini, the coiled energy located at the base of the spine. Despite its sexy reputation, kundalini emphasizes breathing exercises and chanting in lieu of a more physical practice.
Sign on if: The spiritual and emotional dimensions of yoga interest you more than getting a workout.
For more information: www.3HO.org
founder: T.K.V. Desikachar
What it is: A gentle style that incorporates asanas, chanting, breathing practices, and meditation, Viniyoga focuses on an individual’s needs and abilities.
Sign on if: You’re looking for a supportive and nurturing environment where your limitations are taken into consideration in each asana. Especially good for people with chronic health problems.
Use our unique “Zen Clock” which functions as a Yoga Timer. It features a long-resonating acoustic chime that brings your meditation or yoga session to a gradual close, preserving the environment of stillness while also acting as an effective time signal. Our Yoga Timer & Clock can be programmed to chime at the end of the meditation or yoga session or periodically throughout the session as a kind of sonic yantra. The beauty and functionality of the Zen Clock/Timer makes it a meditation tool that can actually help you “make time” for meditation in your life. Bring yourself back to balance.
Singing Bowl Yoga Timer
excerpted from Natural Solutions, June, 2003 by Catherine Guthrie
Meditation & Yoga Timers and Clocks
Now & Zen’s Yoga Timer
and Chime Alarm Clock
1638 Pearl Street
Boulder, CO 80302
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