A Random Selection of Useful Yoga Websites
The Yoga Alliance. Located at yogaalliance.org, the Yoga Alliance is an internationally recognized body that establishes standards for the training of yoga teachers, and offers a range of useful resources for all practitioners, whether teacher or student.
My Yoga Online. Located at myyogaonline.com, My Yoga Online is a great website full of videos of all types and levels of yoga, along with fascinating articles on various yoga-related topics. There’s a monthly fee, which is less than the cost of a single yoga class at most studios.
Yoga Journal. The popular yoga magazine, located at yogajournal.com, has a host of useful resources for yoga practitioners, both students and teachers.
Moving Into Stillness. This is a wonderful discussion board for anyone interested in the world of yoga. This link, Moving into Stillness, will take you to yoga expert Erich Shiffman’s website, full of useful resources, and from there you can click on the link “Join Our Discussion!” to enter the discussion forum.
Resources for Yoga and Climbing
- Yoga for Climbers DVD, with Andria Baldovin. www.yoga-ventures.com
- The Self-Coached Climber, by Dan Hague and Douglass Hunter
- Conditioning for Climbers, by Eric Horst
- Om Shanti: A yoga website with a yoga & rock climbing blog. Not too many recent entries but the older entries are definitely worth a look.
- yogaclimbing.com: A cool website all about yoga and climbing (and about yoga generally). Good articles and features.
Resources for Yoga and Mental Health
- 2010 study on positive link between yoga and anxiety reduction, conducted at Boston University: click here
- 2009 review of research, by Harvard Health Publications, on the benefits of yoga for mental health: click here
- Yoga for Emotional Balance, by Bo Forbes. An excellent, accessible book by the Boston-area psychologist and yoga teacher.
Popular Forms of Yoga (a partial list)
Ashtanga Yoga: One of the oldest approaches to yoga, with its home base in Mysore, India. Formal Ashtanga training typically entails attending class six days per week, with each student moving at his or her own pace through a set series of asanas (poses). Great attention is paid to alignment and to performing each asana with precision.
Anusara Yoga: The popular “heart opening” yoga developed by John Friend. Anusara yoga is grounded in tantric spirituality, and emphasizes the “universal principles of alignment”, a supportive yet rigourous approach to asana practice that may include props, a focus on breath (pranayama), and a desire to bring the hearty-opening quality of the practice off the mat and into everyday life. For an interesting and generally positive article about Anusara Yoga and John Friend that appeared in the New York Times in 2010, click here: The Yoga Mogul. A more recent Times article examines recent the controversy surrounding revelations of John Friend’s numerous sexual relationships with students of Anusara Yoga
Power Yoga is generally a vigorous, fast-paced, vinyasa flow style of yoga with a focus on giving students a powerful fitness workout. It’s often conducted in a heated studio, not as hot as Bikram Yoga but enough to intensify the experience and give everyone a good sweat. Although power yoga has its roots in Ashtanga Yoga, it has no fixed sequence of asanas like Ashtanga Yoga. In the Boston area, popular studios offering power yoga include Prana Power Yoga and Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga.
Bhakti Flow: Rusty Wells’ Bhakti Urban Flow yoga is a joyous, spiritual, and rigorous practice based in San Francisco. The term Bhakti Yoga refers to one of the oldest approaches to yoga, in which the primary focus is on cultivating devotion to one’s personal form of God. Rusty blends the devotion into a rigorous vinyasa flow practice, usually in a heated room with a whole lot of yogis practicing together.
Bikram Yoga: A hot, sweaty, and internationally popular approach to yoga. Students practice the same invariant sequence of 26 poses in each class, in classrooms set at 40 degrees centigrade (104 degrees Fahrenheit). A recent article in the New York Times describes the recent National Yoga Competition organized by Rajashree Choudhury, wife of Bikram Yoga founder Bikram Choudhury. Mrs. Choudhury is currently working to have yoga accepted as an Olympic sport.
Elemental Yoga: A innovative approach to yoga developed by Bo Forbes, based in the greater Boston area. Bo offers regular trainings in therapeutic yoga, with a particular emphasis on using yoga to address anxiety, depression, and psychological trauma.
Insight Yoga: Sarah Powers’ unique blend of yin and yang yoga, Buddhism, and western psychology. Sarah has a wonderful way of giving people helpful tools for healing mind, body, and heart through her wonderful approach to yoga.
Iyengar Yoga: Iyengar places a great emphasis on posture and alignment. One of the oldest schools of Hatha yoga, Iyengar teachers make considerable use of props in their classes to help students achieve correct alignment within each asana.
Karma Yoga: Karma yoga, with its roots in the Bhagavad Gita, is an approach to yoga which emphasizes selfless action, that is, service to others. It may be service to God, or to other people, but it should be ego-free, without attachment to outcome, reward, or recognition. Practitioners of other types of yoga may also follow the path of Karma Yoga by incorporating service to others into their lives. Although some studios have adopted the name “Karma Yoga”, they generally offer asana (posture-based) yoga; historically, Karma Yoga was about a life of service, not the physicality of yoga poses.
Kripalu Yoga: Kripalu is both a form of Hatha yoga and a beautiful yoga retreat center in western Massachusetts (see Kripalu Center). Kripalu yoga emphasizes breathwork (pranayama), traditional yoga asanas, and meditation. Within the approach of Kripalu, less emphasis is placed on attaining some idealized form of a pose, with teachers instead more interested in helping each student explore how to make each pose work most effectively given the strengths and vulnerabilities of each person’s body.
Kundalini Yoga: Kundalini yoga emphasizes spiritual, psychological, and physical development. Aims include fostering greater self-awareness and spiritual enlightenment, in large part by awakening kundalini energy or life force (prana) and moving it from the base of the spine up through the chakras to the crown of the head. Kundalini Yoga makes extensive use of breath work (pranayama), as well as meditation, asana, and other techniques.
Vinyasa Flow: Vinyasa Flow is an eclectic approach to yoga that emphasizes smooth, flowing movements into and out of asanas, along with the coordination of breath and movement. Vinyasa Flow classes often have a rhythmic quality, and (as in some other approaches) many teachers make use of music to help generate energy and flow in their classes. As in other approaches, many Vinyasa Flow teachers also utilize meditation, chanting, and pranayama in their classes. However, many other teachers omit these more spiritual and psychological elements, focusing instead on the physical experience of the asana practice.
Yin Yoga: This approach entails holding poses for several minutes in order to gradually stretch the connective tissue (ligaments and fascia), in order to create greater flexibility, and within a Chinese medicine framework, facilitate greater flow of chi through the body’s meridians. Yin Yoga practice is slow paced, but by no means easy. See the work of Paul Grilley, Sarah Powers, and Bernie Clark to learn more about Yin Yoga.