From Yoga Kick-Boxing to Booty Ballet Yoga to Yogilates, just about every Fitness Style is jumping onto the Yoga bandwagon – especially since Yoga has surged in popularity in the last decade. While it means a profusion of Yoga styles, (some less thought out than others) it also means that tremendous innovation is taking place. This is a good thing as long as those innovating have their basics in yoga alright. Invariably the wheat will get separated from the chaff; but in the meantime more and more students who may otherwise have never been inclined to yoga, are at least getting exposed to Yoga in however mild a form possible!
To have a definitive list of the various styles of Yoga that exist (many, many more do); I’ve provided a link at the end of the article. Peruse at leisure. Here, I’m focussing on 2 Yoga-hybrids that have caught the imagination of urban yogis worldwide.
1) Iyengar Yoga: Since Sri BKS Iyengar and his ubiquitous Iyengar Yoga has been around seemingly forever it has passed off into the annals of what one might call traditional yoga; which often overlooks the fact that the world-famous Guru made tremendous strides in Yoga-innovation. Iyengar Yoga is very focussed on perfect alignment and posture; and to this end Iyengar-ji used a variety of “props” ranging from belts, ropes-on-walls, pillows, blocks and more. This was largely beneficial to practitioners of Yoga who could now practice the classic Yogasanas perfectly and also for a longer duration with a little help from the props. Hugely successful, it was a boon for one and all especially those with rigid bodies.
Its common to have Iyengar yoga practitioners spend endless minutes hanging from contraptions such as this to improve their alignment in classic Yogasanas. Here the lady is practicing Parvatasana.
When I visited the BKS Iyengar center in Pune (Iyengar-ji himself lives and practices daily here); it was an eye-opening experience. Senior teachers from all over the world were finishingtheir 120 min daily training period. Not one was doing an unassisted Asana; and all the people hanging from different ropes and bending on chairs resembled a circus to me. However, what touches you is the deep silence and meditation that the practitioners experience during their practice. Truly amazing!
2) Bikram Yoga: The original mastermind behind “Hot Yoga”, Bikram Chowdhury was a multiple Indian yoga champion before he travelled to America and established what the world now calls Bikram Yoga. This was the original Yoga MNC with franchises all over the developed world. Essentially students practice Yoga in a room that is heated up to 105°F (≈ 40.6°C) with a humidity of 40%. The class routine is the same daily and runs for exactly 90 mins with 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises. The heated room is meant to causing sweating so that the muscles and joints are more pliable and they open up easily. The 26 posture sequence is designed to transfer blood and heat to various organs and glands, exercising them and also cleansing them internally. This was hugely beneficial especially in the west; considering that the bitter winter months made exercising especially Yoga extremely challenging! Bikram Chowdhury-ji attained some notoriety in the late 90′s, when he applied far a patent for his sequence of 26 asanas. Indians by and large (even those who had never practiced yoga), became paranoid that somehow their cultural wealth was being usurped! The patent never happened, I think…
My experience in a Bikram Yoga class took place in Dubai. Whilst I could appreciate the fact that doing the same set of asanas daily made practitioners quite good at them, the outside heat in tropical climates made the whole internal heating a bit over-the-top. I can however imagine how beneficial this may be in say Canada, the US or Europe in winters.
And to learn more about all the various Yoga styles you can try out check out this link; http://www.abc-of-yoga.com/info/yoga-styles.asp