Interest in yoga throughout America has skyrocketing in the recent years. According to a study performed by Harris Interactive Service Bureau on behalf of Yoga Journal, it was found that in the year 2008, 6.9% of Americans practiced yoga and nearly 8% were extremely interested in yoga and its health benefits. Four point one percent planned to begin a yoga regiment in 2009. These numbers reflect that the practice of yoga tripled between the 2008 study and a similar study, performed in 2004. As interest has sparked within the American population as a whole, Health clubs and spas have begun offering yoga classes as part of their group class schedule.
In order to understand the practice of yoga, and the various benefits from the different kinds of yoga, it is helpful to look at each kind of yoga and understand their objectives and goals. Some forms of yoga are a form of spirituality. Others are focused on building core strength, flexibility and endurance. However, almost everyone who begins the practice of yoga continues due to his or her increase of overall healthiness. Bill Harper, publisher of Yoga Journal said, “Yoga is no longer simply a singular pursuit but a lifestyle choice and an established part of our health and cultural landscape. People come to yoga and stick with it because they want to live healthier lives.”
The most common form of yoga in the United States is Hatha yoga. It is also the form of yoga most often tucked under the simple label of ‘yoga’ in health club class descriptions. This exercise system, deriving from ancient Indian traditions, builds strength, improves posture and flexibility. The breathing techniques, meditation and chanting are an essential aspect of this form of yoga as well. Many advocates for Hatha yoga claim that the strength, balance and stretching obtained through this form of yoga lengthen lives and improve the quality of life therein.
Iyengar yoga, the result of extensive study of Hatha yoga and the Veda book, an ancient religious book, is considered the most spiritual form of yoga. Created by Belur Krishnamchar Sundararaja Iyengar, this form of yoga focuses on the eight limbs of the raja yoga. Each limb helps the individual remove negative elements of their spirit and to add in their place positive aspects such as a clear mind, mental control and well-being, in addition to stress relief, good posture and the quieting of the mind.
The ‘yoga of awareness,’ or Kundalini yoga, was introduced to popular culture in the 1960’s through Yogi Bhajan, when he began the 3HO. The Happy Healthy, Holy Organization focused on better self-awareness and self-knowledge through yoga exercises. Building a stronger body through Kundalini yoga is in conjunction with building a stronger bond between the spirit and the body. Yoga poses, breathing exercises and meditation are used to remove harmful mental, emotional and spiritual blocks.
While most forms of yoga focus on the spiritual aspects of the mind/body connection, Ashtanga yoga emphasizes physical strength and muscle training. A series of exercises which must be performed in order and perfected before moving on to the next pose, Ashtanga yoga must be practiced with an experience yoga instructor for the fullness of the workout, and the muscle development. Stamina and endurance are a particular focus with Ashtanga yoga. Like Iyengar yoga, Ashtanga yoga utilizes the concept of the 8 limbs of yoga. However, the primary focus of this yoga is to create enough heat through the series of exercises that the body is able to purify itself physically and re-establish equilibrium within itself.
The Aspen Club and Spa, offers each of these specialty forms of yoga, in addition to additional classes such as, Pre-Natal Yoga, Lunchtime Yoga and Yoga Basics. These classes incorporate aspects of each form of yoga listed above, allowing participants a balanced introduction to the world of yoga and the many opportunities of wellness available to them.
Experience the wellness and balance found through all forms of yoga, drop in to one of the many classes at The Aspen Club and Spa today!