National Yoga Month

September is here. The weather is starting to cool a bit in many parts of the country and fall is soon to arrive.

This is also the official National Yoga month as designated by the Department of Health and Human Services since 2008.

Many of you practice yoga and are well aware of the benefits of this ancient practice. But did you realize that the development of yoga can be traced back over 5,000 years and some believe that it could even be more than 10,000 years.

In the US, what we think of yoga is what is known as Hatha Yoga which came to the US in the late 1800's and early 1900's. But what exactly does Hatha mean? It actually can be translated in two ways. The first is "willful" or "forceful" activity of yoga poses. The second is the literal "Sun" (ha) and "Moon" (tha), the yoga of balance. Either way it is meant as a way to align and calm your body, mind and spirit, often in preparation for meditation.

Hatha Yoga includes the practice of asanas (yoga postures) and pranayama (breathing exercises). It usually is a slower and more relaxed pace that is good for beginners and the poses are held for a longer time. Unfortunately, what actually is involved in a Hatha Yoga class can very greatly from place to place so it is best to contact the studio before attending. 

What are some other types of Yoga?

Vinyasa - Like Hatha, is a general term that that describes a variety of styles of yoga. Essentially, it means movement synchronized with breath and is sometimes known as a flow class as there is a "flow" between positions.

Ashtanga Yoga is a fast-paced and physically challenging type of yoga going nonstop through a series of movements. There are six series in all and each one becomes increasingly more difficult. 

Power Yoga originally started very similar to Ashtanga Yoga, but is not a set series of poses. This gives the instructor more freedom to teach the movements they want. While power yoga is taught in most studios it does vary enough form location to location that you should check on how the class is run if you are looking for a specific version.

Bikram Yoga. If Power Yoga has a variety, Bikram is the opposite. Every class consists of the same 26 postures and 2 breathing techniques in the same order in 90 minutes. This is a form of hot yoga and is performed in a room heated to 105 degrees with 40% humidity.  You may wonder why you would be subject to to this atmosphere. It is meant to flush toxins from the body and to allow the students to move through more fully into the poses.

Viniyoga focuses on the individual and adapts the various means to practice for the unique conditions, needs and interests of that person, leading to personal transformation and self-discovery.

Kundalini Yoga is a series of movements or exercises, dynamic breathing, chanting, mantras & medication designed to awaken the energy at the base of the spine and draw it upward through each of the seven chakras.

Restorative Yoga is a very relaxing form of yoga being very passive and allowing students to relax and release into gentle stretches that may be held up to 10 minutes. Restorative yoga makes use of many props to provide support within each pose and fully relax in each pose.

There are many other varieties of Yoga available as well and each has their own unique twists. But determining which is right for you is very much a personal decision. Do you like variety or prefer consistency? Are you looking for overall tranquility or more fitness? Do you want more more social aspect or more peace?   What budget do you have. 

The biggest thing, is if you haven't experienced the benefits of yoga, get out there and give it a try. Many studios have specials going on and it is a great time to get started on something that may change your life.

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