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Thursday, May 05, 2005

styles of yoga in modern girl terms

When staring yoga, or debating exploration of a new style, it is helpful to determine if you like routine or are seeking a “surprise” with each class. There are certain styles that offer a set sequence every time, while others will vary with each class. Understanding your personality and preferences will help you determine where you fit best on the yoga wheel. A few of my favorite and most popular styles are outlined below. It will help those of you new to yoga figure out where to begin, or those of you seasoned yoginis expand your yogic horizons.

Anusara means “to step into the current of divine will.” Students hear phrases like “puff your kidneys” and “open to grace,” and receive a practice that is spiritually inspiring while grounded in biomechanics. The class focus weaves attitude, alignment, and action. Keen attention to detail, flowery language, and demonstrations during class make this a unique and powerful style. Texan founder John Friend exudes a passion for yoga, and has a rapidly growing number of devotees. For more information, visit

Ashtanga is a set series in a warm room that is quite vigorous and sometimes coined “power yoga.” The primary and secondary series are fast-paced and the most commonly found series at Ashtanga studios although there are actually six series. The practice is for a serious yogini who loves knowing which pose comes next while floating in and out of standing and seated poses. Indian founder Pattabhi Jois lives in Mysore, India and created this popularly intense style. For more information, visit

Bikram is a set series of 26 poses in 100° heat where the bikini-clad teachers encourage you to push harder, harder, harder. Similar to Ashtanga as it is great for students who love knowing a sequence, love to sweat, and enjoy being challenged in a militant way. Indian founder Bikram Choudhury lives in Los Angeles and was once coined the “bad boy of yoga” by Yoga Journal. He is a connoisseur of Rolls-Royces and franchising his style. For more information, visit

Iyengar emphasizes strong detail to precise muscular and skeletal alignment. This style will help you connect to subtle parts of your body that you didn’t know you had. Classes often feel like kindergarten with a constant run to the closet to get your strap, block, blanket or bolster. Props are used heavily in this style and help you find the perfect pose - great for those who love detail, but challenging for those who lack patience and want lots of movement. Indian founder B.K.S. Iyengar lives in Pune, India and is renowned in the world of yoga. His certified teachers have proudly been through rigorous training. This style is a great foundation for all yoginis. For more information, visit

Vinyasa (often called “flow”) offers a ton of creativity for the teacher and the student. It emerged from the roots of Krisnamacharya's lineage of Ashtanga, Iyengar and Viniyoga, and focuses on the linking of flowing poses with breath. If you love to dance, vinyasa offers yoga movement in a graceful, challenging flow with continuous creativity. The practice of vinyasa translates beautifully off the mat by encouraging mindfulness in movement, attention to the breath’s contribution, the weaving of continuous fluidity with power, and the appreciation of life’s incessant flow.

There are many additional styles and they continue to grow. As a Hip Tranquil Chick you will experience the various styles to make an educated personal practice decision based on what works best for your body and mind at various stages in your life. As you deepen your connection to your intuition, one of the MANY benefits of yoga, you will realize that a vigorous practice may appeal when you have a strong need to release pent-up energy after a challenge-filled day. But you also know that your preference may change when you find yourself craving a yin or restorative yoga practice (more to come on this must-have practice). At that time, honor this evolution by seeking a more pensive, slow practice style or blending both by practicing various styles based on your many moods.

Yoga is about personal style and preference. It is important to honor this individuality each time you step onto the mat. You will never approach your practice with the same feelings or experiences twice. Every day on the mat, just as every day in life, will be new. Just as your life is constantly growing and changing, so will your yoga practice. Over time, you will start to carry this personalized practice into all areas of your life – at home, on the go, in the office!

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