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Yoga 101 Part 2: Which Type of Yoga is Right for You?

Laughter yoga

(photo by lululemon athletica)

Last week, we introduced the most commonly known yoga styles. This week’s installment of Yoga 101 brings you a guide to more “obscure” (or rather, “lesser-known”) yoga classes. These are great for both a regular practice, as well as mixing up your weekly schedule.

There’s a yoga class here for everyone – lovers, families, comedians, dancers, crab-walkers…see for yourself!

 

Kundalini

With a goal of expanding sensory awareness and intuition in order to awaken the kundalini energy (higher consciousness) within us all, kundalini yoga puts emphasis on energy flow. This is done via chakra meditation, pranayama, and the application of the 3 bhandas (yogic locks, or muscular contractions). Physical poses are primarily concerned with the navel – whether it is meditating on opening the root chakra, doing core work, or activating the spine.

FYI: In some forms of traditional practice, techniques can only be communicated from master to disciple once the master deems the disciple ready to practice kundalini yoga. As such, one should approach this style of yoga with sincerity and commitment, to an extent, though in Western practice, it is open and can be enjoyed by all-level practitioners.

Best for:

  • Practicing spiritual awareness
  • Working towards achieving higher consciousness

Ability:

Considered an advanced form of practice.

 

Anusara-Inspired

You may have heard of this one, but it will no longer be available as the founder of Anusara, John Friend, was involved in a scandal earlier this year, which led to the discontiuation of Anusara classes. Nevertheless, many teachers still continue to teach Anusara-Inspired classes because of the style’s unique benefits: The style puts a lot of emphasis on heart-opening postures (back-bending) and hip openers (we store a lot of tension in our hips), which encourages general openness of mind and body.

While Anusara-Inspired classes will differ with each teacher, there is always a special kind of spiritual connection and energy present in these classes, which really encourages a sense of openness to others and oneself.

FYI: The basic tenets of Anusara are: Attitude, Alignment, and Action – on the mat and in everyday life.

 Best for:

  • Spine-strengthening and flexibility
  • Those interested in the community aspects of yoga: meeting people, sharing energies, and letting go of inhibitions and fears with like-minded folk
  • Spiritual discovery
  • Hip-opening

Ability:

All levels, though having some flexibility in the spine allows you to get more out of the class.

 

Laughter Yoga

Laughter yoga is exactly what you think it is – except it’s not as weird as you think it is. Each class, the group partakes in what this style of yoga calls “Unconditional Laughter,” meaning each person simulates laughter as a body exercise, with eye contact and just all-round fun. You don’t need a reason to laugh either, but eventually the laughter becomes so contagious you can’t help but laugh for real.

FYI: Laughter yoga is inspired by the fact that the body cannot differentiate between real and fake laughter, and since both provide you with the same physiological and psychological benefits, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t laugh for no reason!

Best for:

  • Beating the blues, combating depression
  • Increasing energy
  • Boosting self-confidence
  • Going with friends
  • Improving your overall health

Ability:

Anyone who can laugh!

 

Anti-Gravity Yoga

Some centers and studios are introducing gravity yoga into their repertoire and from what I’ve heard, this class is a total blast. For the majority of each class, students are suspended in mid-air, in fabric “cocoons” and harness-like bands that hang from the ceiling. Doing poses and lifts while suspended allows for more challenging body weight-bearing exercises, especially when it comes to working the upper body. The class teeters somewhere between yoga, pilates, gymnastics, ballet, and lying in a hammock.

FYI: Watch this video, if this is not making any sense!

Best for:

  • Switching up the yoga routine
  • Upper body strength exercises
  • Fuller range of movement

Ability:

All levels.

 

Partner Yoga

While the style of yoga will vary, it’s good to keep in mind that many fitness and community centres offer classes that are especially designed to be done in partners. These kinds of classes are perfect if you prefer touching someone you know, rather than getting hands-on adjustments from the stranger who happened to set their mat down next to you in power class.

FYI: Read the fine print! Sometimes a partner yoga class is actually meant for partners, meaning some of the poses could get a tiny bit too sensual for friendly (but not too-friendly) pairs!

Best for:

  • Learning hands-on adjustments
  • Getting someone who’s been reluctant, to try yoga with you
  • A third or fourth date ;)
  • Trying out new poses that you can’t really do alone

Ability:

Depends on the yoga style offered for the particular class.

 

Kids Yoga

Yoga classes for kids introduce children to basic yoga poses through games and activities that are fun using language kids can understand. Yoga is a great way for kids to battle stress because stress isn’t limited to only adults! Kids get an opportunity to also channel their energy in a way that balances their body and mind, while also giving parents and kids something to do together or on their own later.

FYI: Some kids yoga classes offer an option for parents to join in on the fun and there are also classes designed for families as well.

Best for:

  • well, kids!

Ability:

All levels.

 

About the Author:

Visnja Milidragovic is a passionate communicator specializing in new media and writing for the web. When not exploring (and living!) the tension between virtual and face-to-face interaction, she can be can be found inventing and sharing new ways to feel good both on the inside and out. She also blogspins, and tweets.


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