“Balance is the law of nature. It is only through Yoga that we can work on restoring the balance of our mind and body that we have sadly lost midst the worldly whims.”
In a world that is obsessed with the hustle culture and consumed with the virtual world, adopting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle becomes increasingly important. Unfortunately, the advent of social media has arrived hand-in-hand with misinformation. The concept of a healthy lifestyle is commonly confused with adopting fad diets and bingeing on green tea. We must note that an unhealthy lifestyle is also characterized by having shorter attention spans and being self-consumed.
It is time we burst this bubble of delusion and come to realize the importance of a truly healthy lifestyle that channels the brain, mind, and body.
Luckily, cracking the mantra to a healthy lifestyle is not decoding the Morse code. The mantra lies in the roots of our heritage. Yoga, a gift of ancient India, is the simple answer to this seemingly puzzling question.
Yoga as a lifestyle can be easily integrated into our lives and can be cherished and furnished with practice. Contrary to the ordinary view, Yoga is not just practicing postures; it is a way of living life that can shape your personality. It is a fragrant potpourri of practices that add to a youthful and rich life.
TYPES OF YOGA
Yoga is a spiritual and scientific discipline that translates into “to join, attach, harness, or yoke.” The ultimate goal of yogic practices is to attain the state of Samadhi and achieve ultimate union with the Universe. There are six traditional types of Yoga:
1. Raja Yoga
Raja translates to a king. Likewise, the qualities of a Raja apply to a Raja Yogi. Therefore, a Raja Yogi is self-assured and autonomous. Also known as Ashtang Yoga, Raja Yoga is divided into eight parts:
a. Yama or self-control
The practice of self-control involves principles such as non-violence, truthfulness, the virtue of non-stealing, the non-accumulation of possessions, and leading a pure way of life.
b. Niyama or discipline
Discipline consists of principles such as purity, contentment, self-control, the study of Holy Scriptures, and devotion to God.
c. Asana or Physical exercises
These refer to postures that we can hold for a significant duration of time while being comfortable and at ease.
d. Pranayama or breathing exercises
It refers to learning how to control our breath. Several breathing techniques are listed in this article, all of which offer a multitude of benefits to both body and mind.
e. Pratyahara or withdrawal of the senses
This limb of Raja Yoga involves withdrawing from objects present in the external world and focusing on our inner selves.
f. Dharana or concentration
As the name suggests, it involves introspective focus. The mind is trained to focus on a single object or concept.
g. Dhyana or meditation
This is a step further from Dharana as it involves being objective and non-judgmental about the object or concept in focus.
h. Samadhi or full realization
This state has only been achieved by a few Yogis. It is known as the state of meditative absorption which accelerates true enlightenment. It denotes an altered state of consciousness which is why it is perceived as indescribable and only experienced.
2. Karma Yoga
The word Karma translates into “to do” or “to act.” Since in the Hindu culture, Karma also denotes the consequence of an action; the word can be interpreted as the Universal law of cause and effect. The concept of Karma is well-integrated into the Indian culture. It can be roughly equated to the English saying, “You reap what you sow.”
Karma Yoga distinguishes between selfish actions (Sakama Karma) and selfless actions (Nishkama Karma). Therefore, practicing Karma Yoga encourages selfless actions that reap positive outcomes. Selfless deeds not only help us lead a fulfilled life, but they also encourage Ekta or unity of all beings.
Yoga believes that humans are stuck in the misery of the cycle of death and rebirth. To break away from this cycle and attain moksha, we must rectify earlier karmas and practice forgiveness.
3. Bhakti Yoga
Bhakti translates to devotion. Therefore, Bhakti Yoga proposes devotion to an omnipresent and omniscient God. Key features of this type of Yoga are Oneness with God, a loving and direct relationship, and equality of all human beings.
Mira, an avid devotee of Lord Krishna, in her verse expressed how she could let go of all inhibitions as she danced in the bhakti of her God. Therefore, Bhakti Yoga transcends all class and caste boundaries. It is believed to be the Yoga of the layperson who wishes to live a life without resentment and wishes the divine Grace to flow through him.
Practicing Bhakti Yoga encourages love and harmony among all beings and an open heart to worship the sacred.
4. Jnana Yoga
The word Jnana has its roots in Sanskrit and translates to knowledge or wisdom. Therefore, unlike other types of Yoga described above, Jnana Yoga promotes the path of knowledge as a way to attain moksha.
It encourages individuals to study the scriptures and texts of the Yogic traditions to gain a deeper understanding. Jnana Yoga tackles the issue of avidya, or ignorance by continuously challenging the intellect.
The goal of Jnana Yoga is to unchain from the illusionary world and attain the union of the self (Atman) with the absolute reality (Brahman).
5. Tantric Yoga
The word tantric is rooted in Sanskrit and translates to “weaving.” It stems from the Hindu-Vedic thought and aims to connect individuals with their spiritual energies.
The practice of Tantric Yoga not only consists of asanas but also mantras and mudras. It harnesses the chakras of the body. Chakras are energy centers that must be activated for harmonized living.
The practice encourages strength, clarity, and contentment and enhances a peaceful life.
6. Hatha Yoga
Hatha Yoga translates to “discipline of force” in Sanskrit. It focuses on the mind, body, and breath. It combines both Hindu and Buddhist texts to enhance the flow of vital energy.
Learning to control our breath (Pranayama), yogic postures (Asanas), and short periods of meditation are essential components of Hatha Yoga. The famous Suryanamaskara is the most ancient form of Hatha Yoga.
The practice of Hatha Yoga helps to alleviate stress, promote deep sleep, boost positive emotional health and ease bodily pains. It also supplements mindfulness. This, in turn, aids healthy eating and motivation.
Types of Breathing in Yoga
1. Nadi Shodhana or Alternate Nostril Breathing
Breathing through alternate nostrils one by one offers a multitude of benefits for both mind and body. It regulates the nervous system helping to relieve stress, lowers blood pressure, and helps control fear and anxiety among other benefits. This breathing exercise is known to bring immediate relief during stress and panic attacks.
2. Ujjayi or Ocean’s Breath
Ujjayi has its roots in Sanskrit and translates to “to conquer.” It is referred to as Ocean’s Breath because the sound produced when it is correctly performed resembles the sound of waves on the seashore. This sound is useful when the mind is in a meditative state and is attempting to refrain from distracting thoughts.
It regulates the body’s temperature, improves concentration, and helps relax the muscles.
3. Shitali Pranayama or Cooling Breath
As the name suggests, this type of yogic breathing helps refresh the body and the mind while purifying it. Swami Swatmaram, an ancient saint, once said that a person becomes young and attractive by practicing this pranayama as it removes excess heat accumulated in the system, which reduces the excess bile, corrects the disorders of the spleen, and works on fever.
4. Sitkari Pranayama or Hissing Breath
This breathing technique is similar to Shitali Pranayama. The only difference lies in its method. It requires clenching of teeth rather than curling of the tongue like Shitali Pranayama suggests. In addition to the benefits aforementioned, this technique is known to be beneficial in fighting insomnia.
5. Bhramari or Humming Breath
Bhramari is an Indian black bee. As the name then suggests, the practice of this breathing produces the buzzing sound of a bee during exhalation. It is known to promote peace within ourselves, lower blood pressure and improve the quality of sleep.
6. Bhastrika or Bellows Breath
This breathing technique is also known as the yogic breath of fire as the yogi rapidly inhales and exhales air. This type of breathing energizes the entire body, drains the phlegm, and oxygenates the blood. It is considered a cleansing action that is often combined with Kapalbhati.
7. Surya Bhedana or Solar Breath
Surya Nadi refers to our right nostril. Therefore, this type of breathing focuses only on the right nostril to spread warmth throughout the body. This technique is beneficial for the efficiency of the entire digestive system. In addition to this, it is also well-known to help cure skin diseases.
8. Chandra Bhedana or Lunar Breath
Chandra Bhedana focuses on the left nostril. Just how Surya Bhedana helps to spread warmth, this technique does the opposite and cools down the body. In addition to the cool down, this type of breathing decreases the risk of heartburns, lowers blood pressure, and reduces stress.
9. Active Yoga Breathing
Active Yoga Breathing aims to integrate the practice of deep breathing into our daily lives. It involves beginning to breathe deeply while walking or during any physical activity. It not only calms the body but helps maintain an active lifestyle.
OFFERINGS AT YOG AMORE!
Now that you understand of different types of yoga and breathing techniques, you must explore them more through their practice.
We understand that the types are extensive. Further, extracting their benefits by trying them one after the other can be tedious. Therefore, if you have just cultivated your interest in Yoga or have just sown the seeds, you can test the waters through Yog Amore.
The Yoga classes combine a blend of Iyengar Based Hatha Flow, Yin Yoga, Restorative Yoga, and Yog Nidra.