Yoga is becoming famous all around the world, especially after the announcement of International Yoga Day on the 21st of June. The main reason behind this global acceptance is that yoga helps relax the body and mind. It is very versatile as you can find fast-paced bodyweight exercises in Ashtanga yoga or enjoy deep breathing exercises in pranayama.

But, yoga is not a new concept. Yoga has been around for more than 10,000 years in India. Although there have been many changes over the years, the core teachings of yoga remain the same. But what exactly is yoga? To understand the real meaning of yoga, you need to read about its origins.

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Why is it called yoga?

Yoga originates from the Sanskrit word Yuj, yoga means ‘to unite’ or ‘to join.’ Many yogic scriptures give evidence of yoga as a practice to create a beautiful harmony between a human and nature, their body and mind.

The one who experiences this universal union and practices regularly is known as a yogi. A yogi desires only one thing in life, known as Mukti - freedom from physical form. Ancient India believes in having a physical form that has many dimensions like birth, puberty, youth, old age, and death. To attain moksha or mukti is to exist in a dimensionless form. Yoga and meditation can help you reach that self-realisation to attain ultimate liberty.

Beginner’s Guide To Learning Yoga

Are there any yoga rules? Where should you begin? Which course will suit you the most? How many types of yoga are practised?

Before you begin your journey with yoga, you must know about all the different types of yoga and what benefits they offer. This section will help you to make an informed decision.

Yoga over the years

  1. Pre Vedic and Vedic period

In the early days, knowledge was passed on from one generation to another by word of mouth. This makes it difficult to find the exact origin era of yoga. One can find the first mentions of the word yoga in the Hindu texts of Rig Veda, which dates back to 1500 BCE. Atharva Veda was the next to mention yoga in the form of breath control exercises in its texts in 1200-1000 BCE.

  1. Pre-classical period

This period is known for the birth of the Hindu texts Upanishads. This era glorified the workings of the mind and body through spiritual connections. Meditation and mantra recitation started from this time and continue in modern-day yoga practices. Out of 108 Upanishads, there were 20 entirely on yoga. In these scriptures, you can read about meditation, letting go of external senses, sound and pranayam. Prana means essential life force, and Yama means to gain control. This translates pranayam into the yoga of breathing.

  1. Classical period

The concept of attaining salvation through specific postures and meditation came into existence. The Hindu text Bhagavad Gita mentions Karma yoga, Bhakti yoga, Dharma and Jnana yoga. The text “Samatvam Yoga Uchyate” is also mentioned in the Gita, which means yoga is an art of balance.

Sage Patanjali also describes the goal of yoga as uniting the spiritual form to the universe in the Mahabharata. He organised all the practices of yoga into a systematic form in the second BCE, known as yoga sutras. This is the reason Maharishi Patanjali is known as the Father of Yoga. Learn about planning a yoga retreat in India!

The History of Yoga
A monk performing meditation, Source: Pixabay
  1. Post-Classical period

In this century, Hatha yoga became popular, and people began to practice meditation regularly to relax and tame the mind.

  1. Modern Yoga

The name Swami Vivekananda crossed the borders in the west as his prime focus was on the physical form. People in the west started to practice Hatha yoga in the 19th century. The history of yoga is long and has gone through many changes in the 21st century. Yet the philosophy of yoga practice remains the same.

How many types of Yoga are there?

There are 10 types of modern-day yoga.

  • Hatha Yoga

The word Hatha means limbs. This type of yoga practices physical postures. Although in the west, all types of physical practice yoga are known as hatha yoga. It is because this includes strength and stretching exercises and meditation to control your breath which is a basic worldwide picture of yoga. Hatha yoga can increase your bone strength and balance.

  • Vinyasa Yoga

This means “to place in a specific way.” This is the most sporty form of yoga, making it popular amongst the youth. Vinyasa focuses on the flow of the body from one pose to another. This increases your flexibility while giving you some sweat beads.

  • Kundalini Yoga

This is a more calm type of yoga. It gives your life spiritual healing. It uses a combination of meditation, breath control, spiritual philosophy, mantras, and stretching exercises. It believes you have a coiled-up tension in the tail of your spine, which needs to be released to live a healthy life.

  • Iyengar Yoga

This type of yoga practice was started by BKS Iyengar, who uses various props to train alignment. The teacher will ask you to hold a position for a long time while having control of your breath. This increases your mind and body balance by concentrating on bringing your body on a singular path.

Types of Yoga in India
A woman performing yoga sunset pose, Source: Pixabay
  • Ashtanga Yoga

Ashtanga means eight. It believes there are eight limbs of yoga known as amas, pratyahara,  asanas, niyamas, pranayama, dhyan, samadhi and, dharana. This yoga follows the traditions of Patanjali’s Sutras but in a very specific pattern that increases your energy and lung capacity.

  • Yin Yoga

This is somewhat like Iyenger yoga, where you need to hold a sitting position for a long time. Meditation is the primary factor in this yoga that people practice to find inner peace. This is more like a beginner’s guide to learning yoga.

  • Bikram Yoga

Famously known as “Hot Yoga,” it practices the movements of hatha yoga but in a hot temperature of 35-40 ℃. The main objective is to make sure you do not pass out in the first 10 mins of starting. This yoga is challenging and thus prepares you for different adversities in life.

  • Anusara Yoga

This is a new combination of Hatha and Vinyasa yoga that has three essential parts mind, body, and heart. The yogic philosophy behind this is the alignment of the senses which will increase your heart health.

  • Restorative yoga

If you want to feel relaxed after a long day, this is the yoga for you. Just like Iyenger, it also uses props, but they are eye pillows and blankets to put you into a deeply relaxing state. It is best if you have a desk job or back pain as it stretches your body into the correct position.

  • Power Yoga

This is a very aerobic form of yoga where you can not take a rest between poses. This creates a dynamic flow of energy in your body that will keep you healthy. The benefits of power yoga are many, but the main one is that it helps you burn calories in very high amounts.

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What are the 7 benefits of yoga?

Now that you have a complete guide on different types of yoga, it is best to know the benefits before you join a yoga course in India.

  1. Yoga increases your memory

If you are a forgetful person or find it difficult to concentrate, then regularly practising yoga can help. By focussing on your breathing and maintaining a posture, it helps in mind control.

  1. Benefits of power yoga

It helps you lose weight. The top benefits of power yoga come from its continuous cardio exercises. You can lose 280 calories in one hour of a power yoga session while increasing your heart health.

  1. It can ease your back pain

Yoga postures help you bring back your entire body into its original alignment. Practising poses that target your back can help cure your ailment.

  1. It can help you sleep better

Insomnia is one of the top reasons to practice yoga. It calms your mind and brings inner peace. Yogis believe that doing yoga just before bed can improve your sleep cycle.

  1. Yoga increases your strength

One of the most difficult kinds of exercise is holding your own body weight. Yoga slowly increases your bone and muscle strength without any external weights.

  1. Yoga improves your mental health

Mental health problems like anxiety, OCD, or depression can be battled with the help of yoga. Search for the best yoga retreats in India 2022 and go on a yoga retreat to find mental peace.

  1. It helps you with PMS

Premenstrual syndrome can be painful and filled with drastic mood swings. If you practice yoga, especially in the luteal phase, it can ease your PMS.

Different types of Yoga
Legs and hand folding yoga pose, Source: Pixabay

Where can you learn yoga?

Yoga can be done anywhere, like in a park with a group or in the comfort of your home. But what you require is correct guidance. Yoga highly depends on breathing patterns which only a teacher can help you with. You can join a yoga course in India to start a regular practice. If you are planning a vacation, then visit the Purple Valley, which is one of the best yoga retreats in India 2022.

Start learning yoga online with Superprof

Whether you are a busy or shy person who cannot exercise in front of a group, an online class can be your best solution. Superprof has over 5000 yoga teachers in India. You pay on an hourly basis with an average fee of 1400/hr. To help with your decision, these yoga teachers have star ratings and reviews.

All you require is a webcam and computer with an internet connection. Get a free demo class to get in tune with your teacher. Let Superprof help you achieve your inner peace.

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