Yoga originated thousands of years ago in India. A common way of life at that time, the ancient Rishis abided by the principles of yoga to live their lives. Yoga, as we know it today, began later at around 500 B.C. This miraculous approach to well being, was discovered by those in other parts of the world and soon, yoga found its way into the lives of people miles away from the country of its origin. Today, yoga is a popular form of exercise that has flourished throughout the world, especially in the west. It’s rare to find anyone who has not heard of yoga. But how is the situation for yoga in India? Do people still practice yoga there? The answer is yes. In fact, it is thriving in the country of its origin, especially when Yoga Gurus like Baba Ramdev and Bikram Choudhury have been acting as catalysts in spreading awareness about yoga and its benefits. Yoga classes and yoga schools are popping up everywhere; TV channels are dedicating significant time slots to yoga shows. Yoga camps are organized all over India, and are broadcasted live on TV channels; we might as well say that yoga has never been so much in the buzz before. Here are a few yoga types popular in India today.
Ashtanga yoga: This is a vigorous form of Hatha yoga which is based on eight-fold path of yoga termed by Patanjali as abstinences (Yama), observances (Niyama), postures (Asana), breath control (Pranayama), sense withdrawal (Pratyahara), concentration (Dharana), meditation (Dhyana) and contemplation (Samadhi). In fact, the term “Ashtanga” itself means eight limbs in Sanskrit. Ashtanga yoga includes everything we’ve known yoga to be; from postures to breathing exercises to meditation; it’s a complete package for physical, emotional and mental well-being.
Kundalini yoga: Kundalini yoga is one of the most spiritual forms of yoga, challenging the practitioner both physically and mentally. This yoga type is based on the philosophy that a spiritual energy or life force is situated at the base of the spine, which is usually conceptualized as a coiled serpent. In fact, Kundalini or kundala literally means coiled in Sanskrit. So, Kundalini yoga aims at attaining enlightenment which is believed to be achieved only when the Kundalini energy situated at the base of the spine reaches the crown. Kundalini yoga is also believed to cure a number of ailments like asthma, diabetes, stress related diseases and even mental disorders. No wonder people are flocking to Kundalini yoga classes.
Sivananda yoga: A yoga type that emphasizes on frequent relaxation and full yogic breathing, Sivananda yoga aims at spreading peace, health and joy. This yoga style focuses on asana, pranayama, relaxation, proper diet, positive attitude and meditation with twelve basic asanas setting the foundation of each asana practice. Since this yoga type is gentle, it can be practiced by people of all ages.
Hatha yoga: This yoga type is not just popular in the United States; it is widely practiced in India. Usually practiced for emotional, psychological and physical health, this yoga type has been widely embraced for its stress reducing qualities. Like most yoga types, Hatha yoga also involves asanas (poses), breathing exercise (pranayama) and meditation.