Your Health

What type of yoga is best for you?

If you find the number and variety of yoga studios in Winnipeg to be confusing, take a moment to think through what end result you are trying to achieve. Are you looking to sweat your way into a leaner body, or do you want a gentler, more meditative approach?

Some styles of yoga are more fitted to those with youthful, athletic bodies. Classes may be taught by someone who has studied for years or someone who has taken a weekend workshop. Do your research and find out who the teachers are and their approach to taking on beginners. Talk to your health-care provider. High blood pressure, sports injuries, surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy are all problems that should be taken into consideration before you take up yoga. Once you narrow your list, try attending a few classes to see if you enjoy them. Often, the first class is free at the beginner level.

To find a class, visit www.yogadirectorycanada.com.

Ashtanga

The practice of Ashtanga is a fast-paced series of sequential postures practiced by yoga master K. Pattabhi Jois, who lives in Mysore, India. The system is based on six series of asanas, which students can work through at their own pace.

Barkan

Therapeutic yoga method suitable for all levels. The yoga postures, or asanas, are designed to work your body internally and externally, helping you to lose weight, improve your immune system and feel more energy.

Bikram (aka Hot)

A series of 26 postures introduced by Bikram Choudhury that combines the precision of therapeutic yoga and the foundations of traditional yoga in a specially heated room (37 C to 39 C). The series is a cardiovascular workout that loosens, strengthens and tones the muscles, while calming the mind and reducing stress.

Hatha

This was introduced by Yogi Swatmarama, a sage of 15th century India. Hatha yoga is a preparatory stage of physical purification that the body practises for higher meditation. The asanas and pranayama in raja yoga were what Hindu yogis used to physically train their body for long periods of meditation. Traditional hatha yoga is a holistic yogic path, including disciplines, physical postures, purification procedures, poses, breathing, and meditation. The hatha yoga predominantly practised in the West consists of mostly asanas understood as physical exercises.

Iyengar

In an Iyengar class, poses (especially standing postures) are typically held much longer than in other schools of yoga, so practitioners can pay close attention to the precise muscular and skeletal alignment this system demands. Also specific to Iyengar, which is probably the most popular type of yoga practised in Canada, is the use of props, including belts, chairs, blocks, and blankets, to help accommodate special needs such as injuries or structural imbalances.

Jivamukti

This is a highly meditative but physically challenging form of yoga. In addition to vinyasa-style asanas, classes include chanting, meditation, readings, music, and affirmations. Beginner classes start by emphasizing standing poses, followed by instruction on forward bends, backbends, and inversions. These classes also introduce chants.

Kripalu

This is a gentle form of Hatha yoga, which cultivates awareness and compassion. The Kripalu method teaches yoga postures and basic breathing techniques with the emphasis on nonjudgmental observation of the inner senses, thoughts, and emotions.

Kundalini

In 1969, Yogi Bhajan brought Kundalini to the West. The practice of Kundalini yoga incorporates postures, dynamic breathing techniques, and chanting and meditating on mantras such as "Sat Nam" (meaning "I am truth"). Practitioners concentrate on awakening the energy at the base of the spine and drawing it upward through each of the seven chakras.

Power

Started in 1995 by Bender Birch, this off-shoot of Ashtanga offers a vigorous workout that develops strength and flexibility, intended to create energy flow.

Vinyasa

Vinyasa yoga is an active form of yoga, which synchronizes breathing and movement. Using a graceful and uninterrupted stream of asanas, students learn to listen to and respect their body's needs. Throughout the series, ujjayi breathing is practised, helping to create a meditative state. This complete meditative workout both stretches and strengthens every part of the body.

Yin

Yin yoga is a quiet practice, characterized by holding poses for several minutes. Yin postures gently stretch and rehabilitate the connective tissue that forms the joints.

Wave

About Wave

Wave is published six times a year by the Winnipeg Health Region in cooperation with the Winnipeg Free Press. It is available at newsstands, hospitals and clinics throughout Winnipeg, as well as McNally Robinson Books.

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