Yoga has become the popular way of exercise. Through the many diverse styles of yoga, you can get a full workout that includes cardio, flexibility, and strength training. There are many different styles of yoga, but the only authentic, true style of yoga is classical Hatha yoga. Although based upon classical Hatha yoga, other people have created all other yoga styles. For example, Bikram Yoga, is the style of yoga done in a heated room. Although they claim to have benefits, from the Ayurveda standpoint, Bikram Yoga can be very damaging to the health. Yes, sweating is a good way of releasing toxins from the body, but the excess heat is not good for the brain. Think about it, when you have a very high fever, what do doctors worry about the most…the brain frying. It is very important to keep the head cool at all times. With a heated room and doing Asanas at the same time, damage can occur to the brain and lead to other problems such as stroke, anger, and inability to think clearly.
Another style of yoga that is very popular is Iyenagar Yoga. Iyenagar yoga is most commonly known for using props. Again, in the original form of yoga, props are not used because props are not needed. Yoga means unifying and therefore the practice of Yoga is meant to unify the mind and the body. I once took an Iyenagar class and did not really like it. I felt as if more emphasis was used upon the usage of props rather than using my body. The only way to help the body is to fix it from inside out slowly and gradually, not through force or creating unnatural barriers.
The asanas, meditations, and breathing exercises that most yoga centers teach are often taught incorrectly and the fundamental principles are never shared or taught. Let’s take Pranayama for example. It doesn’t matter which side you start with. To do Pranayama, close off the right nostril with your fingers and take a deep inhalation through the left nostril. Then close the left side along with the right side and hold your breath. Then, open the right side and continue to hold for a few more seconds. Lastly, exhale all the air through the right side of the nostril and then inhale through the right side and so on. The most important part of Pranayama is the exhalation part. The reason is that exhalation allows for the removal of toxins. When you inhale, you bring fresh oxygen to the brain. Then when you exhale, you remove the carbon dioxide from the body and therefore, you clean out both the mind and lungs. Majority of those who practice yoga do not know that you are supposed to exhale more than you inhale when you do Pranayama.
Most Yoga classes are missing the fundamentals and explanations of why you do what kind of asana. The practice of Yoga is not meant to be difficult…it is meant to work the body and fix it. In order to avoid any kind of injury in the practice of yoga, it is important not to over do and push yourself to the extreme. For example, if you have never sat in lotus before and the muscles in the groin area are tight, then do not attempt to sit in lotus only because everybody else is doing it. Ask your yoga instructor on how to loosen the body first and prepare it to do the advanced asanas. Do not be afraid to ask questions and slow down if you need to. If you practice yoga correctly and have a qualified yoga instructor, then you are not likely to hurt yourself and will have maximum benefits.