What is Yoga?
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Yoga is a Sanskrit word for yoke or union. It is a discipline that unites the body with the mind and the individual with the divine. Through the physical practices of asana (postures), pranayama (breathing), mantra (chants), mudra (hand positions), and meditation, yoga inspires strength, flexibility, mental clarity, and a sense of spiritual peace.

Yoga Glossary—This guide reflects a range of yoga styles in the marketplace, but should not be considered a complete list. Individual teachers and hybrid forms emerge almost daily, but most are grounded in these essential styles.

Anusara, founded by John Friend, is a heart-oriented discipline based on its own Universal Principals of Alignment. This set of biomechanical principals, applied in each pose, is directed toward achieving the individual body’s optimal blueprint, relying on such physical actions as the hugging in of muscle to bone, maintaining the connection of the scapula to the back, and the outward expression of the heart through mindful extension of the arms, hands, and fingers. In a spiritual sense, strength is cultivated internally and offered outward to the world. Anusara also integrates Vinyas’s flowing style with Iyengar’s propensity for long holds.

Literally “eight limbs,” Ashtanga emphasizes vinyasa, the synchronicity of breath and flowing movement. Practitioners believe that continuous flow purifies the physical body—an internal heat is created and a cleansing sweat induced—and refines the breath through concentration. There are six series of asana in Ashtanga yoga and each has 25 to 40 postures. The primary series is for beginners; the second focuses on back bends, and the remaining four are described as “very advanced.” Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, Ashtanga’s founder, requires that students adhere to the sequences he mined from ancient script.

Bikram Choudhury developed a precisely sequenced series of 26 asanas to warm and stretch muscles, ligaments, and tendons in a supportive order. The vigorous system is designed to oxygenate the blood, improve circulation, tone muscle, and trim fat. Proper alignment and breathing are important in Bikram yoga and following the sequence in imperative. Bikram studios are famous for increasing room temperature to 105 degrees for deeper stretching and to detoxify the body through sweat, thin the blood, increase the heart rate, and improve physical strength and mental concentration.

Kundalini Yoga, as thought by Yogi Bhajan, combines asana, pranayama, mudras, mantras, and meditation into one practice that balances the seven chakras, or energy centers, along the spine. In asanas, arm and leg angles are emphasized to harness the electromagnetic flow of energy. Rapid diaphragmatic and long deep breathing through the nose and mouth are also employed. Postures are held anywhere from 90 seconds to 31 minutes.

Precision and alignment are central to the practice of Iyengar. This system asks students to hold poses long enough to fully experience them, use props(blocks, blankets, ropes) to maintain alignment, and follow a proscribed sequence of asanas. Iyengar teachers are intensely schooled in anatomy and are particularly well equipped to train students to incorporate even the slightest adjustments, such as toe and finger spacing, to bring stability and openness into the postures.

This practice calls on Hatha Yoga asana, mantra, yantra, mandalas, mudras, and ritual to help individuals break through self-limiting constructs that stunt personal growth and wellness, and stimulate awareness, leading to increased compassion for others. To most Westerners, Tantra has a sexual connotation, and there are sexual practices know in the United States as Red Tantra, where a couple cultivates their sexual energy for spiritual transformation through sacred exercises.

Vinyasa (also known as Power or Flow Yoga)
This is the most popular form practiced in America. Like Ashtanga, it is a great workout as the class demands near constant motion. Each movement is linked to breath, fostering a meditative quality. Classes begin with simple postures and build to the complex. Surya namaskar, or Sun Salutation, is the foundation from which various standing postures, like Warrior and Triangle, are linked.

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Cheri Clampett

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Romi Cumes, LMT
Transformative Healing Arts

Offering private and group yoga instruction, therapeutic bodywork, and energy healing.
(805) 448-4111

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