Yoga is the ancient science which studies the mind and its’ relation to physical body, breath and emotions. The branch of Yoga dealing with the practice of Asanas (postures), Pranaymas (breathing techniques) and Kriyas (cleansing techniques)is called Hatha.
Hatha Yoga can be translated as “forceful” Yoga. It means that the practitioner should put effort (both, physical and mental) to master it. Another translation is “Sun and Moon” Yoga. Only when the mind is calm meditation happens. And to calm the mind, according to ancient Yogis, we need to balance the two energies: masculine, active and hot (Sun) and feminine, reflective and cool (Moon). How to balance it? To practice Kriya, Asana and Pranayama with dedication! So, both translations lead us to the same place!
Today, however, Hatha Yoga is mentioned with a different meaning most of the time. The name was adopted by one of the styles of Asana practice. Please, don’t be confused! Any Yoga class you go to will be a Hatha Yoga class, all the different “names of Yoga” are just the styles developed over the centuries within it. Think about it as different flavors of ice cream, it can be chocolate or mango, but it’s ice cream all the same!
If you are just starting your journey to yourself through Yoga, you may have a hard time choosing a class from the variety on offer. It’s is ok if you can’t tell Ashtanga from Yin now, you will get used to all the strange names and will eventually discover your favorite style.
To help you navigate the Yoga world, we have prepared short descriptions of Yoga classes we host at Yoga in Vang Vieng:
Ashtanga Introduction Class
Ashtanga Vinyasa is considered to be one of the most physically challenging styles. It is a set sequence of postures and Vinyasas practiced as a continues flow.
The focus of this style is on the unity of the breath and the movement, each position is held for 5 breaths before transferring into the next one. Practitioners use the special breathing technique called Ujjayi breath to keep their mind in the present moment.
Another element of Ashtanga Vinyasa is the Bandhas, energy locks, applied by slight muscular contractions in the pelvic floor and lower abdomen. The Bandhas help to develop core strength, keep the lower back safe and focus the mind, to name a few benefits.
In Ashtnaga Introduction classes we welcome everybody! In the beginning of a class, the teacher will introduce you to Ujjayi breath and the Bandhas and later you will learn how to perform some of the postures of Ashtanga Primary Series, focusing on the correct alignment and the breath.
If you are an Ashtanga practitioner with experience, an Introduction class is nice way to come back to the foundation and get an expert advice and some tips on deepening the practice from the teacher.
The namesake of all the physical Yogic practices, Hatha is a perfect place to start your acquaintance with Yoga. This style is distinguished by long holdings of Asanas and exploring the relationship of inhalations and exhalations with the body and mind in the process. As you are in the posture for, sometimes, several minutes, you have time to align the body correctly, to make sure you breathe deeply and maybe even get a glimpse of inner peace! And it also gives your teacher time to check if everything is going right and help you out if needed.
Hatha style works with the whole body-mind system, that is why apart from Asanas, classes often include Pranayama (breathing techniques) practice, meditation and, most importantly, deep relaxation in the end.
Kundalini is one of the most misunderstood and mysterious styles of Yoga. You might have heard it’s dangerous, you might have heard only women are allowed to classes, you might have heard other intriguing or strange things about it.
In fact, Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan I totally safe and it is an amazing tool to get in touch with your deepest, purest self, improve the quality of life and even discover your hidden talents using Kriyas (in Kundalini tradition Kriya is translated as “action”) and meditations. Kriya is a set of physical exercises, breathing techniques and sometimes chanting , which stimulates specific parts of the brain, nervous and endocrine systems. Different Kriyas have different effects, from energizing morning sets to ones helping to overcome insomnia and negative thinking patterns.
Kundalini Yoga can be physically intense and challenging, but all the effort pays off by the state of tranquility and bliss after completing a set. And the best news is that everyone can practice it! The only thing you need is an open mind and readiness to give your 100% to the practice!
Kundalini meditations are wonderful way to make profound changes in your life. They affect nervous system, brain and subconsciousness, aligning body, mind and spirit.
Some meditations are as short as short as 3 minutes, but you will feel them working straight away! Prepare to discover your strength and endurance, to chant along with your fellow students and to feel rejuvenated and relaxed after the class!
If you will find a meditation that resonates with you, please feel free to ask the teacher how to include it into your daily routine.
Known as “sleeping yoga”, restorative yoga is for those looking for a calm, relaxing practice. It taps into the parasympathetic nervous system to create complete emotional, mental, and physical relaxation. You will use multiple props – blankets, bolsters, blocks – in order to get the body in the most relaxing position possible.
Known for its fluid movement and seamless transitions, vinyasa yoga is a great practice for yogis who prefer continuous movement and who dislike routine. Each posture and movement is paired with the breath, making the practice almost dance-like.
Yin Yoga combines Yogic wisdom with traditional Chinese knowledge of energy meridians (or channels), that’s why it is named after the Chinese concept of female aspect of creation, Yin, complementing all the other styles of Hatha Yoga, which are Yang.
When you walk into a Yin class you will see bolsters, blankets and cautions all around. The props are meant to keep the body fully supported during the practice, so that you can completely relax and turn all the attention within, exploring the essence of the Yin principle of the Universe, its softness and acceptance of what is.
On the physical level, Yin targets facial, ligaments and joints, as well as muscles, helping to keep them strong and healthy. The postures work with the energy channels, gently releasing the blockages caused by stress and negative emotions. You will feel light and relaxed after the class not only in the body but on more subtle levels, too!
Yin Yang Flow
Some days it’s hard to tell what will restore our balance, relaxing and letting go or to giving the body a nice workout to bring the mind to the present moment. In Yin Yang Flow classes you will get it all! Dynamic elements of the class will stimulate your nervous system, get the heart pumping and oxygenate the whole body, inviting you to challenge yourself, and the relaxing Yin part will give you time to tune in and listen to what the body and soul have to say.
These classes are also great to experience the variety of Yoga styles and find out what suites your temperament!