Mindful Movement Through Yoga
The practice of yoga has been around for over 5,000 years. Originating as a lifestyle philosophy and form of meditation, it is an ancient branch of Hinduism whose focus lies in seeking enlightenment. Through utilizing breathwork and physicality in search of harmony within, yoga became a widely practiced philosophy. Comprised of more than just a physical practice, yoga philosophy embraces all aspects of life and is based on the Yoga Sutras of Patañjali found in the Eight-Limbed Path. For years, this method of mind-body connection thrived in India, Yoga’s official birthplace, and when introduced to Westerners in the 1900s, it became, in turn, something larger even than itself. Inherently we are all movers, and up until this moment in time, there were not many ways in Western civilization to cultivate the body with both spirit and mind. This is why, I believe, that when yoga was introduced, it was so widely embraced and has since blossomed into the mainstream practice it is today.
Westernized yoga has adopted most of its Indian heritage; however, it has seemed to part with the religious affiliation of the philosophy. The focus instead lies on the physicality of movement and wellness benefits. The most widely studied form of yoga today is Hatha. Almost any yoga class you attend will be based on its methodologies. Specialized styles of yoga have since branched off from traditional Hatha; examples being Iyengar, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Bikram (Hot Yoga), Kundalini, the list goes on and on. All derived from classic Hatha movements; the emphasis tends to differ based on focus, intent, and outcome. However, all of these styles focus heavily on connecting to the body through building strength, endurance, and cardiovascular health.
As a dancer and lover of movement, I have found specific styles of yoga that tend to offer more than others in terms of their healing properties and opportunities for the mind-body connection. I encourage you to enjoy the following styles for peace, strength, and happiness.
Origins: Hatha is the form of yoga that all modern-day yoga is derived from. First taught in the 1930s by a man named Krishnamacharya, he studied yoga all his life and worked tirelessly to spread his modernized form of yoga. Due to this, he is known as the father of Modern Yoga.
Style: Perfect for beginners, modern-day Hatha classes are slower-paced with great focus on alignment and strength building. Meditation and breathwork are also common elements of Hatha classes and are the perfect introduction to this form of the mind-body connection.