From jivamukti to sivananda, there’s a yoga style out there for everyone.
There are so many different styles of yoga that it can be quite confusing, but the core journey and aim of the practice remains intact, and that is to promote a greater sense of well-being and ultimately experience self realisation.
At its absolute basic definition yoga means union and ultimately, it aims to unify the different aspects of you into a greater whole. “At the heart of every yoga system whatever your preferred practice is, the definitive journey is to discover your true nature or self, to know that your very essence is divine,” says hatha yoga teacher Howard Napper. Its origins date back to India many hundreds, some even say thousands, of years and there is a generally accepted wisdom that yoga was initially performed as a valuable preparation to meditation.
The postures, or asanas, were undertaken to help relax and free the body, enabling the yogis to sit still for hours in mediation – a practice engaged to reach a deeper inner wisdom. Countless numbers of people, including some of people, including some of the UK’s finest teachers, have experienced dramatic and life changing transformations, through yoga.
It can be a cherished and preferred option to a therapist’s couch, or a valuable support to the healing process. Carolyn Cowan, kundalini teacher explains: “I discovered kundalini yoga when I was suffering from severe depression, it literally turned my life around. Kundalini yoga is brilliant for the nervous system, especially for anyone experiencing extreme emotions like stress, addictive issues, postnatal depression and anger. It’s equally wonderful for unleashing and maintaining creativity and self-esteem.”
Physical injury and ailments can equally be transformed; David Sye, founder of Yogabeats has been practising yoga for more than 24 years and began in response to suffering from ulcerated colitis and a spastic colon. He tried Tibetan yoga and after a course of ten sessions the doctors could find nothing – inspiring him to embrace yoga as his life’s focus. Michele Pernetta opened the first dedicated bikram yoga studio in the UK in January 2000.
While living in Los Angeles and practising martial arts for many years, Michele had severely damaged both knees. So she went to see the ‘knee guru’, a name often given to Bikram Choudhur, founder of the method and famous for fixing people’s knees. Explains Pernetta: “He said he could help me so I trusted him. It wasn’t an easy process as I soon realised my knee problems were part of a whole body misalignment.
My knees are better now than they have ever been. One of things I love about bikram, which is performed in a heated room, is it creates alignment, strength and flexibility. All levels practise together, so no matter what your age, stage of fitness, size or injury, this yoga is for everyone. Yes it can be challenging, but it is safe, simple and fun.”
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