Choosing a yoga to practice isn’t just a trial and error process. Before trying any routine, you should know first if it’s indeed suited or you. Active routines like the Ashtanga yoga require a lot of flexibility and physical endurance. If you’re not fit enough for this, look for wider choices like Bikram, Kundalini, or Power Yoga. But how can you tell if it’s right for you? Here are the four yoga practices discussed briefly.
This hot yoga started during the late ‘90s and was developed by Bikram Choudhury. At age four, Choudhury had started practicing Hatha yoga, which then led to different yoga routines. He does this for about six hours a day until he encountered a knee injury in his 20s. He doesn’t stop still and started to initiate a new yoga fad.
With this influence from Hatha yoga, Bikram is actually a combination of the latter and other practices Choudhury did before. Typically, a Bikram class nowadays lasts up to 90 minutes doing 26 different poses paired with breathing exercises.
Bikram is practiced inside a heated room that can be as hot as 40C. If you decided to choose this yoga practice, expect that you’ll sweat a lot even on the parts you never thought of sweating. Doing Bikram can be hard for the first days but as your body adjusts to the heat, you can adapt to the environment slowly.
Usually, yoga teachers schedule water breaks so you just can’t stop and gulp on your tumbler. This way, you can detoxify your body properly while learning to stick to the discipline, the same way Ashtanga yoga does it.
Just a tip before doing Bikram: Don’t wear anything cotton because it adds more heat to the body.
So, is this right for me?
Knowing if it’s right for you or not depends on your preference. If you have a high tolerance for heat and sweating, you can give it a go. But if you’re the type who will pass out in a water-deprived state, you should think twice before choosing this practice.
Kundalini actually came from the concept of Dharma where kundalini itself is an energy resting inside the body. As a Sanskrit term, it translates to “coiled snake”. The yoga process targets to awaken this coiled energy inside to attain physical strength and consciousness. Kundalini is a blend of physical workout and meditation with high regard to raising mindfulness. It seeks to “activate energy centers” inside your body.
This yoga routine doesn’t have many philosophical restrictions, unlike Ashtanga yoga. Its origin is virtually unknown yet it still pumps up many yoga classes in the modern times.
Basically, Kundalini yoga focuses on strengthening the nervous system. It has thousands of kriyas or series of postures paired with breathing exercises, chanting, and hand positions. These poses intend to improve the spine where the coiled energy is said to be resting.
Kundalini doesn’t target to reach any physical perfection or posture mastery. Instead, it focuses on the emotions and meditation to let the body initiate the Chakra and the coiled energy. On this yoga practice, you will need a lot of mental decluttering and removal of negative emotions. Also, this might be accompanied by loud chanting and a little bit of dancing.
Here, yogis are treated not just as students but also teachers who can share the Kundalini principles.
So, is this for me?
If you’re looking for a yoga that’s not bonded with any strict rules, Kundalini is your perfect practice. This also works best for someone who wants to focus on strengthening the subconscious mind instead of toning body muscles. If you’re the type who’s not bothered with yelling and loud chanting, then Kundalini is the yoga for you.
From the name itself, Power Yoga is an intense practice with lots of sweating. It started in the ‘90s that initiated a “gym yoga” fad. Actually, Ashtanga is an inspiration for this yoga routine because its first practitioners studied under the watch of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois.
The difference is that Power routine moves faster than Ashtanga yoga except during few moments when it slows down a bit. This is a fitness-based yoga that builds its foundation on Vinyasas. Since Power Yoga is highly active, it increases your internal body temperature, flexibility, and physical strength while reducing stress.
Some classes do this inside a heated room, which adds a similarity to Bikram. But some classes choose to do it outdoors during early mornings. Though it’s similar to Ashtanga, Power Yoga focuses on standing poses to maximize its cardio routine.
Even though it’s a tough practice, Power Yoga is intended towards healing and growth. Most of the people who love this routine are athletes and those who are into sporty activities. But what every Power Yoga teacher wants to clear out is that you shouldn’t just focus on the physical activity. Once you start being conscious, yoga starts. You should remember that yogic thinking is one of the important facets of a yoga practice.
So, is this for me?
If you’re looking for a workout type of yoga, this one is your perfect choice. However, you should remember that this requires serious physical fitness and endurance. Just imagine Ashtanga in fast-paced mode and you’ll know what I mean. Still, you can give it a go if you’re transitioning from a relaxed yoga like Hatha to a more active routine.
As another Vinyasa-based routine, Ashtanga yoga started in the early 1900s and was developed by the famous Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. This yoga is highly structured where students are strictly taught to follow asana progression. Only upon mastery of a certain series that a yogi can proceed to advanced asanas.
Ashtanga means “having eight limbs”. This resonates to the practice of utilizing the eight limbs in different postures. The focus of this is to purify the mind and body through the perfection of asana executions and meditation. With this, an Ashtanga class is really tough and it requires a high level of fitness and flexibility.
There are two types of classes for this yoga: Mysore and led. During a Mysore class, students are allowed to practice asanas at their own pace. Each student does a different routine than the others where a teacher serves as a guide. Here, each student receives personal assistance and adjustments from the yoga teacher.
Meanwhile, the led class usually happens in a massive attendance and instructions are given in general. Each student is expected to catch up as the teacher leads the asana series. This might be challenging for beginners that’s why many prefer the flexibility of the Mysore class.
So, is this for me?
Ashtanga is a very vigorous practice and you need to be physically fit before doing it. Also, it can be frustrating if you can’t execute an asana well. If you have the patience and dedication to stick to such demanding routine, Ashtanga is for you. However, you should also bear in mind that Ashtanga isn’t all about physical activity despite its active nature.
Choosing between Bikram, Kundalini, Power Yoga, and Ashtanga Yoga can be difficult if you’re just new to the practice. But if you’d been to a class before, you’ll have an idea how demanding or laid-back it can be. No matter what, these briefly discussed points will help you in deciding which one to focus on your next yoga class. Have you chosen one already? Share your yoga choice with us in the comment section!