Yoga by Any Other Name

CURE, Spring 2011, Volume 10, Issue 1

There are many different types of yoga.

Yoga is not simply defined. To some, it is a system of techniques and practices, and to others it is a philosophy. In the U.S., it is more commonly known as a practice that involves exercise, breathing and/or meditation.

 There are many schools of yoga. Some yoga is purely meditative, and some is highly physical. Yoga classes in the U.S. usually incorporate Hatha yoga, a practice that focuses on asanas—or postures—and breathing. Here’s a brief description of several types of popular yoga:

> Iyengar focuses on poses that are held to achieve alignment. Often props, such as blocks and belts, are used to support the body in alignment.

> Ashtanga is a system of six series of postures. It moves quickly through one or more series with breathing from pose to pose.

> Power yoga uses many aspects of Ashtanga combined with a physical workout for flexibility and strength.

> Bikram is a series of 26 postures performed in sauna-like conditions, with room temperatures of more than 100°F to cleanse the body through sweating. Karen Mustian, PhD, an assistant professor at the University of Rochester Medical Center, says this type of yoga is usually not recommended for cancer survivors or cancer patients undergoing treatment.

> Integrative Yoga Therapy is a program developed to help heal people with a variety of health issues. It combines gentle postures, breathing techniques and guided imagery created for specific conditions.

> Kundalini focuses on postures, breathing, meditation and the chanting of mantras to focus spiritual energy.

> Restorative yoga focuses on four standard poses that incorporate the use of bolsters and pillows. People who have had physical injuries may choose this type of yoga.