What is Yoga?
As Yoga has become more popular, the definition of yoga has become more elusive. You need only open a newspaper, magazine, or tune into your television to hear about yoga. There are many styles of yoga from the traditional to the trendy. In this market of choices, finding a suitable yoga class can be challenging.
What to do?
First, decide what is important to you---what are you seeking from a yoga practice ?
Second, ask many questions and most of all, try several styles to learn what suits your needs. Keep in mind that no one style of yoga represents all others.
Lastly, make sure your instructors are qualified people who have practiced yoga for a number of years and have completed in-depth training. Only a truly knowledgeable instructor can help you experience the time-tested benefits of yoga.
About Yoga Hmmm...
While there is no “one-size fits all” yoga course, we find that our methodical introductory approach is suitable for most fitness levels.
In the beginning, we focus on helping you improve the overall condition of your body, increase your body awareness, and reduce the myriad effects of stress.
Later, once we’ve established a better understanding of ourselves, we try more challenging physical and mental aspects to widen our boundaries.
Keep in mind, no student is pushed to their limit in our “no pain, no pain” system. We believe in this simple premise: If it hurts, it is harmful. If it is pleasant, it is likely conducive to our health and harmony.
A Healthy Yoga Practice Encourages:
- A more peaceful, patient person
- Great physical conditioning (including cardio & weight-bearing exercise)
- Reduction of chronic aches and pains
- Increased vitality
- Reduction of injury (due to increased insight into how the body works)
- Increased immune efficiency
- Better performance in other activities
- An inspired & positive outlook
Yoga Styles, What’s in a Name?
The scene is repeated often:
ME: “Yoga center, may I help you?”
CALLER: “Do you have Cardioyoga?”
ME: “Well, yoga does provide cardiac conditioning.”
CALLER: “What about yogalates, Christian yoga?"
Two of my favorite styles (of which I claim to know absolutely nothing) are “Iron Yoga” a mix of yoga and weight lifting and “Yoga Bootie Ballet” yoga mixed with kick boxing? Forgive me if I have in any way misrepresented anyone.
People ask us what type of yoga we offer and we generally reply “Classical Yoga” or “just yoga”. We then try to give a brief description of what we do in each class level.
There was a simpler time. I remember a period in the 70’s when I would hear my mother breathing heavily, slowly, in her room as she stretched. She’d stare awhile at a candle flickering and when she’d emerge from her practice, she was eerily serene. A group of domestic goddesses would meet with a vivacious Japanese fellow called Ichiro Takahata, He taught yoga, “just” yoga, and Karate, before going on to open “The Sake House” restaurant.
I borrowed mother’s “28 Day Yoga” by Richard Hittleman and tried yoga. This was my formal introduction to yoga. Since then, I have accumulated multiple yoga teaching certifications and taught nearly 10,000 classes and numerous private lessons. (I may own 10,000 books on yoga, too! Okay, I am exaggerating.)
I have worked with many students who have become viable, working yoga instructors. I am, however, at a loss when it comes to understanding the myriad styles/types of yoga that emerge daily.
There is Iyengar yoga and Bikram yoga aka Hot yoga, Ashtanga aka Power yoga Tri yoga, Chi yoga, Anusara yoga, Kundalina aka 3HO…ad infinitum. The Western trend of branding seems to be the driving force behind the diversity.
Reputable teachers, after training great numbers of disciples, needed a way to keep their teachings pure. There are the “older” types of yoga i.e. Bhakti-devotional, Karma-service, Hatha-Physical, Raja-higher/royal (the yoga of Patanjali, the original “brander”), Laya/Tantra- Absorbtive /Meditative to name but a few.
As a guru/teacher gets more devotees, he or she gets more widely known and her or his interpretations become the next “path” of yoga. They help to describe her or his methodology. It also may serve to honor the dedication to practice, study and honing of one’s yogic craft.
I know many who have greatly enhanced their life experience by working with the gurus of the “newer” brands of yogic art. I have the utmost respect for those who offer up their lives to serve others by helping them understand the inner and outer teacher.
All is well in the world of yoga. My humble opinion is that we each are free to interpret and practice as we are moved to. And Yoga, like spirituality, is a very personal thing.
You may choose a type of yoga that suits you and learn that instructor to instructor, it is a very different experience. Soon enough, you will forge your own track. Be patient, tune within and ask your questions and above all try many forms.
Yoga goes far beyond your mat or class experience and is integrated with your whole life experience. Your gurus are your children, parents, co-workers, the Divine Mother, Divine Father, Universal wisdom and each passerby.
You hone your yogic craft each moment as you navigate the infinite space of your mind, heart, being. Enjoy it!
by Kathryn Bumbaugh 2005