Although there are many styles of yoga, the differences are usually about emphasis, such as focusing on strict alignment of the body, coordination of breath and movement, holding the postures, or the flow from one posture to another. All of the styles share a common lineage. In fact, the founders of three major styles — Astanga, Iyengar and Viniyoga — were all students of Krishnamacharya, a famous teacher at the Yoga Institute at the Mysore Palace in India. Two other styles, Integral and Sivananda, were created by disciples of the famous guru Sivananda. No style is better than another; it’s simply a matter of personal preference. More important than any style is the student-teacher relationship.
Hatha is a very general term that can encompass many of the physical types of yoga. A Hatha style yoga class is going to be slow-paced and provide a good introduction to the basic yoga poses. It is more gentle than Vinyasa but it can be as challenging as you want it to be. Every pose can be modified to your ability. In Hatha the aim is to stay in each pose longer while breathing deeply, it is for this reason it is better for people with injuries. It promotes endurance, strength and relaxation. It is recommended learning the alignment of the basic yoga poses before trying more synchronized classes such as Asthanga or Vinyasa.
Vinyasa, which means breath-synchronized movement, tends to be a more vigorous style based on the performance of a series of Sun Salutations, in which movement is matched to the breath. A Vinyasa class will typically start with a number of Sun Salutations to warm up the body for more intense stretching that’s done at the end of class. Vinyasa would be beneficial to someone trying to improve their cardiovascular fitness as well as build strength, flexibility and stamina.
Participants move through a series of flows, jumping from one posture to another to build strength, flexibility and stamina like Vinyasa. The difference is Ashtanga has a set sequence which is followed in every practice, developed by K. Pattabhi Jois, Ashtanga is physically demanding.
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Yoga for Sports
This is a vinyasa class primarily with some hatha influence. I have sequenced asanas to concentrate opening the hips and hamstrings whilst the body is in it’s optimum alignment. There will be an emphasis on using mula bandha (pelvic floor) and the core to build on inner strength. This can help promote healing and help prevent future injury. Participants in the past have fed back that they have noticed a reduction in run and cycle times.
Benefits for Athletes:
1) Increases overall suppleness & flexibility
2) Improves joint mobility
3) Reduces risk of injury and assists injury rehabilitation
4) Effective active recovery in terms of soft tissue and collagen fibre rehabilitation
5) Brings the body back into correct alignment and improves posture
6) Reduces fatigue and the negative effects of being muscle-bound
7) Increases stride length
8) Enhances co-ordination and agility
9) Lowers resting heart rate and increases VO2 max
1) Reduces performance anxiety and stress
2) Quietens the mind
3) Improves focus and concentration
4) Develops determination and self-discipline
5) Helps athletes how to achieve flow and get in the zone
6) Teaches athletes how to use imagery and relaxation
7) Breath work is used to manage and control arousal levels
8) Supports athlete mental health and wellbeing
1) Improves team cohesion
2) Increases team motivation
3) Provides an opportunity for the team to unite outside of the demands of intense training