Western style yoga has some of the same characteristics as those practiced in the Eastern cultures, but other practices are structured differently. There are several forms of this discipline and philosophy. These include Kundalini, Hatha and Ashtanga, as well as others. You can usually find instructional courses that feature each of these types. Students may choose yoga to relieve the stress of living, increase flexibility or to promote weight loss. There are side benefits with each major type.
Hatha yoga and raja yoga each place emphasis on the physical aspects of the discipline. These can include postures (known as asanas), gestures, meditation, purification and breathing. The Western form typically places the main emphasis on achieving the correct asanas or exercises.
The Astanga version places emphasis on transitions and movement between asanas. The exact form is less crucial than keeping the movement slow and smooth. Astanga emphasizes breath control. Each student becomes aware of the movement of air into and out of the body. Because of the smoothness of movement, this type of the practice builds warmth internally, which improves the sense of relaxation.
Kundalini is also a dynamic form of the discipline. It is the original form and the most powerful form. In spite of this fact, it can be practiced by anyone who is willing to work using the concepts and instructions that describe the techniques. Kundalini uses yogic postures, positions, meditation, chanting and breathing control. This type of yogic emphasis strengthens health and well-being physically. It also provides mental clarity, emotional balance, stress relief and personal transformation.
There are some students who take up the practice in order to improve flexibility. Athletes who concentrate on strength exercises may find that there are benefits achieved when they become more flexible. Balance between strength and flexibility improves performance for many athletic endeavors.
There are some students who begin using asanas as part of a weight loss program. Getting rid of a few extra pounds by using gentle and non-aerobic movement, breathing and visualization of body energies sounds like a simpler process than calisthenics. The weight loss benefits also bring holistic health to the body while enhancing burn of calories.
When yogic exercises are utilized to improve good health, they often provide stress reduction as well. Reducing stress means there is less impact on the organs of the body. Stress reduction elements of yoga are easy to apply, even while at work or school. Clearing the mind of negative thoughts and pressures and replacing them with calm and serenity requires no special equipment and no physical exercise.
Yoga practices can be simple to begin. Online sites describe and demonstrate some routines to get you started. These forms could be combined with other exercises for variety and effectiveness. Students can decide to purchase tutorials which describe routines. These are single user routines. When more support and guidance is desired, joining a class may be the best solution. Leaders provide instruction and encouragement which is important for some learners.