The following major styles of Hatha Yoga can be seen as the closest to the ‘true’ teachings of yoga.
The founders of the 3 major styles — Ashtanga, Iyengar and Viniyoga — were all students of Sri T. Krishnamacharya, a famous teacher at the Yoga Institute at the Mysore Palace in India. Two other popular styles, Integral and Sivananda, were created by disciples of the famous guru Sri Swami Sivananda.
This is a presentation of classical yoga, rather than a style. It was developed by Pattabhi Jois (Krishna’s senior student), based on the teachings of the Yoga Korunta. ‘Ashtanga’ means ’8 limbs’ – as described in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.
The Korunta method of Yoga is extremely ancient and was discovered and updated by Shri T. Krishnamacharya, a great master from Southern India who died in Madras in February 1989 at more than 100 years old.
The intense physical activity gradually generates a high level of energy. Combining the postures and breathing control of classical yoga with dynamic movements, – physical, mental and spiritual powers are developed. This is a process for producing intense internal heat and a purifying sweat that detoxifies the muscles and organs. The postures are linked by ‘Vinyasa’ movements taken from the Sun Salutation, synchronised with Ujjayi breathing. The Yoga Korunta consists of six series of some 40 postures each. The first series or first level, the second series or intermediate level, and the advanced series, levels A, B, C and D.
The first series is called Yoga Chikitsa (yoga therapy). It works on alignment, particularly of the muscles and joints of the body.
The second series is called Nadi Sodhana (purification of the subtle channels). It works on harmonising body and mind by fortifying the nervous system.
The advanced levels develop and intensify vital energy (prãna).
Developed by B.K.S.Iyengar – This style emphasizes alignment and symmetry (especially through standing postures). It has a firm philosophical base in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. It encourages the use of props and straps to aid proper alignment, until the pupil achieves perfection in the posture. The aspect of “timing” is emphisised – where students are taught to stay for a longer duration of time in each posture so as to experience it. Students work within their own capabilities, and as they progress in strength and flexibility – the props can be disguarded.
Developed by T.K.V. Desikachar, the son of Krishnamacharya (teacher to some of the great yoga instructors including Iyengar and Pattabhi Jois). This gentle form of flow yoga places great emphasis on the breath and coordinating breath with movement. Viniyoga’s flowing movement or vinyasa is similar to ashtanga’s dynamic series of poses, but is performed at a greatly reduced pace and stress level. Postures are chosen to suit the student’s abilities – so it is excellant for beginners, and those recovering from illness.
Note – although this term is widely used – it has been stated that Desikachar is no longer associating himself with the term.
Developed by Swami Satchidananda – the man who taught the crowds at the original Woodstock to chant “Om” – Integral classes put almost as much emphasis on pranayama and meditation as they do on postures.
This style of yoga was founded by Swami Vishnu-devananda – a student of Sri Swami Sivananda. Sivananda yoga offers a gentle approach, which takes the student through the twelve sun salutation postures and incorporates chanting, meditation, and deep relaxation in each session. The Sivananda school of yoga encourage students to embrace a healthy lifestyle and the 5 points of yoga which are – healthy diet, proper exercise (asanas), proper breathing, proper relaxation, and meditation.
Developed by Swami Kriyananda, a direct disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda (author of the – Autobiography of a Yogi). Ananda Yoga is a classical style of hatha yoga that uses asana and pranayama to awaken, experience, and begin to control the subtle energies within oneself, especially the energies of the chakras. Its object is to use those energies to harmonize body, mind, and emotions, and above all to attune oneself with higher levels of awareness. One unique feature of this system is the use of silent affirmations while in the asanas as a means of working more directly and consciously with the subtle energies to achieve this attunement.
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