The Various Styles of Yoga Practiced at an Anamaya Yoga Retreat

Written by Jackie Sloves for Anamaya
Ariel, one of Anamaya's Yoga Teachers
Five Flavors of Yoga

At Anamaya we practice many different styles of yoga. Each instructor adds a bit of their own flavor to the yoga practice, and combines the various styles in order to best tailor the yoga classes to the various abilities and interests of the guests. Each type of yoga shares something in common: the basic philosophy that cleansing of the body and rejuvenation of the spirit is attained through connecting the body to the mind through breathing and movement. Yet this philosophy leaves room for many different styles, in which each focuses on a specific aspect of yoga. The following article will outline five different styles of yoga one may encounter on a yoga retreat.

Hatha – Originating in India in the 15th century from Yogi Swatmarama, the name Hatha comes from the two Sanskrit words, “ha” and “tha”. “Ha” means sun and “tha” means moon, yet together “hatha” means forceful. This represents the balance of opposites one aims to achieve in yoga – be it the harmony between positive and negative flows of energy, or the unity of body and mind. Hatha is a general term for a more slow-paced and gentile yoga practice, and is a good style of yoga for beginners. It provides a cohesive and relaxed introduction to the various poses, or asanas, and principles of yoga.

Anusara– A modern form of Vinyasa yoga founded in 1997 by John Friend, this practice of yoga emphasizes alignment and opening the heart. The underlying principle is that all beings are intrinsically good, thus it is an uplifting form of yoga that focuses on integrating the lessons of yoga with the ways of life. Anusara literally means “flowing with grace”, and draws on sequences and movements of Vinyasa yoga. It incorporates more props, and is often a more playful type of yoga. Because of its emphasis on alignment and movement, this type of yoga is compatible with people of all levels of yoga experience.

Ashtanga – Developed by yogi Vamana Rishi, this is one of the more intensive and fast-paced styles of yoga. It follows a structured series of poses outlined and popularized by yogi sage Sri K. Patthabhi Jois. This style of yoga has inspired what is commonly called “power yoga”, which refers to a more athletic form of yoga. Power Yoga does not necessarily follow the strict sequence of Ashtanga yoga poses, yet it focuses on muscle strength rather than movement or stretching. This type of yoga is best for people who are looking to experience a cardio workout and increase strength rather than the relaxing feel of a more slow-paced yoga.

Iyengar – Originally created by B.K.S. Iyengar, this form of yoga is characterized by aligning the body through a series of poses that are held for longer periods of time. Unlike other forms of yoga that are center around movement and flow, Iyengar yoga is not as fluid. Rather, one enters a pose, makes the proper adjustments using a number of props and techniques, and then gets into child’s or corpse pose before transitioning into the next pose. This form of yoga is not as cardiovascular as other forms, though it is beneficial to people of all levels. More advanced yogis benefit from the technical aspects of alignment, whereas less experienced yogis benefit by easing into the yoga practice with the use of props.

Vinyasa – This is a general term that encompasses a yoga style that is more fast-paced and movement-oriented. Vinyasa yoga classes focus on sequences of poses that flow with the breath of an inhale or exhale. There is much room for the instructor to modify a Vinyasa yoga class because there are infinite sequences, so no two classes will be exactly alike. Usually a Vinyasa yoga class begins with a series of sun salutations to warm up the body, and is followed by more intensive stretching. This is a good option for people who enjoy more movement and fluidity in their yoga practice, rather than light stretching. It is often joined with another style, so it may be called vinyasa-ashtanga, or vinyasa-anasura, to give you more of an idea of the instructor’s pace and personality.

Whatever style of yoga you prefer, the outdoor deck overlooking a panoramic view of the beautiful beaches of Montezuma is the perfect place to practice. With the distant sounds of the waves crashing, and a light buzz of jungle life, it is a setting that puts the mind and body at ease before the yoga practice even begins. We look forward to your participation at our next yoga retreat!

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