Yoga is a very holistic approach to life as reflected in the above "Yoga Wheel." It can incorporate any or all of the following:
Karma - selfless service, outcome, action
Bhakti - devotion, emotion
Raja - meditation
Mantra - chanting
Jana - intellectual pursuits
Hatha - physical practice
In the Western world, we tend to focus on Hatha, the physical practice of yoga with most classes including some Raja and perhaps even a little Mantra (Ommmm, or AUM.) The emphasis will differ based on the teacher and the yoga venue, are you in a gym or a yoga studio?
During our recent yoga workshop held on a beautiful sunny Sunday in May, several of the Y yoga instructors endeavored to introduce some of the various formats for a physical practice:
Francia opened with a a bit of meditation (also called setting a sacred space) and followed with some warm up postures with deep breathing techniques or pranyama.
Megan then provided instruction in a vinyasa flow where one builds heat through movement and synchronizes the breath and movement, one breath, one movement. Kristi followed with a slow burn vinyasa, often described as the elegant dinner party to a vinyasa flow disco dance. Slow burn focuses more on the sensation, can be done with the eyes closed and still synchronizes breath and movement, albeit several breaths for each posture, breath is the focus during the transition from one posture to another.
I then spent a few minutes on what we coin hatha, deep stretches of the muscles, and then moved on to a few yin poses, poses held for several minutes to work the soft, connective tissues.
We also teach power yoga classes which includes ashtanga, a series of poses that are repeated each time you come to the mat in the same sequence and the practitioner moves throughout the practice.
All of the classes, including power, can be modified for beginners and advanced practitioners. What is important is that you listen to your body, come to the mat as often as possible, and have the dialogue with your yoga teacher about your specific needs. The class descriptions on the Group Ex schedule may not adequately describe the practice. For most of my classes, the members have liked a variety of styles even though the labeling is "power."
If you are interested in joining a class, learning more about yoga practices or participating in workshop, feel free to talk to any of the yoga teachers or Valerie Baumann, Wellness Director.