Yoga has been traced back over 5000 years to its roots in India. The word yoga means “to yoke or to join”. Although there are many different types of yoga (Bhakti-yoga of devotion, Nada-yoga of sound, Karma-yoga of selfless deeds…) as Westerners we are most familiar with what is called Hatha. All Hatha Yoga involves asana, or physical postures.Under the Hatha umbrella, there are a myriad of styles, each with its own take on postures, pacing, the way they connect, and the way they are sequenced.
Why so many styles of Yoga? All Hatha Yoga, on the most basic level, involves stretching, moving and breathing. Though some styles of Yoga emphasize different aspects of this practice they have all come from the same intention–to foster a peaceful, clear mind and a supple and healthy body. Just like any Art, Yoga evolved from it’s beginnings, to take on new influences, philosophes, trends, Many styles have come to the forefront in Western society and below are some of them (you can find more on our class descriptions page):
Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga(commonly called Ashtanga or Astanga) focuses on the breath, building flexibility, strength and stamina, and on flowing transitions between postures.The same sequence is followed in every class in the Full Series(there are 4 Series, some say 6).There is something deeply meditative and healing in the consistent practice of this strong sequence, like a string of prayer beads. The Ashtanga series was discovered and interpreted by Sri. K. Pattabhi Jois and his teacher Krishnamacharya, both Sanskrit scholars in India.Pattahbi Jois was teaching Ashtanga until his death in 2009 at the age of 93.
Click here for the official Ashtanga Yoga site.
Vinyasa Yoga or Flow Yoga was born from Ashtanga, though with a creative flow that is always different, inspired by the energy of the class and the experiences of the teacher. Vinyasa is more modern in its approach, often using upbeat music and rhythms, and drawing from different styles of Yoga. Flowing between postures with breath at the forefront makes for moving meditation that can be anywhere from soft to athletic and vigorous.
Iyengar Yoga, a very detailed and therapeutic alignment based yoga, came from the same lineage as Ashtanga(Krishnamacharya taught both K. Pattabhi Jois, the “father of Ashtanga” and B.K.S. Iyengar, the head figure of the self-named Iyengar school. He taught them very different practices based on their own strengths and weaknesses ). Mr. Iyengar is still living and teaching well into his nineties.
Anusara Yoga is an offshoot of Iyengar, Founded by John Friend, Anusara focuses on closely detailed alignment , but with a playful, exuberant attitude toward the practice.
Yin Yoga is a therapeutic practice which cultivates stillness while reaching deeply beyond into the joints and connective tissues. Mindful breath, supported postures with long holds characterize this restorative practice. Safely creating space in and around the joints while releasing the muscles results in a body that is more efficient,mobile and tension-free.
Bikram Yoga is taught in an artificially heated room(110 degrees and higher),and is the same 26 postures each class with no- flowing transitions.
Hot Yoga came out of Bikram, due to trademark legal issues and also to add variety to the postures.Though some say the heat is beneficial, caution is warranted, as breathing is typically not emphasized in these classes.
Budokon, Sivananda, Kundalini,Integral, Viniyoga… the list goes on and continues to grow.
Here at Red Pearl we focus on uniting asana and breath as tools to join the physical with the mental, spiritual and emotional realms. The fruits of this kind of awareness are an integrated and balanced state of being. we can connect more fully to the universal current of life which moves through everyone and everything. As beings made of energy, once we learn to channel and regulate the flow of that energy we are gifted with boundless creativity, wisdom and vitality.
To give you an idea of what that universal current or connection might feel like here is an example: Think about one of those times when you have come up against a problem or a challenge, and can’t find a solution. Maybe you started doing or thinking about something else– taken a run, or gone for a swim- something that made you feel peaceful and forget your troubles. And then..”AHA!” There the solution popped up, clear and steady. What happened? It was only when you gave up looking for the answer that it came to you. It came effortlessly; Everything just clicked into place. That’s it. That is the universal connection working for you, moving through you. All you had to do was get out of your own way. As human beings, we like to get in our own way. A lot. Yoga can teach you another way.
“I can’t do Yoga–I’m not flexible.” All we ask of our students (and hopefully we are all student–always) is to come to yoga as you are. You do not have to be flexible or strong or “in shape”. The most common thing we hear is “oh, I can’t do Yoga–I’m not flexible.” Well, that doesn’t make much sense; You would’nt say “I can’t go to the gym because I ‘m out of shape”. Its really the same thing! This is about the journey. It is about process—not perfection. And, each person’s journey is unique because each body is unique. And our life circumstances are just as unique, even from yesterday to today; We honor that. Each one of us has his/her own specific challenges to meet along the road. All that is required is a willingness to meet those challenges without judgment. Remember, process—not perfection.
Why Yoga? Yoga really does work from the inside out-if we allow it. On the physical level you are burning off toxins, oxygenating and purifying the system, toning muscles, organs, and glands, building bone. And yes, even getting a “yoga butt”, strong abs and defined arms, back and legs. However, each time you do yoga, breathing and moving mindfully, you have the potential to go deeper than that, peeling away layers of random thoughts, ego conditioning, limiting beliefs and expectations. How you are on the mat, is how you are in life. The way you respond(or react)when you don’t execute a posture “perfectly”, or when your Yoga neighbor’s mat is “too close” to yours, or your annoyance at someone coming in after class has begun and slapping their mat loudly on the floor–all this is opportunity to observe yourself and how you are likely to be when you are off the mat. When you can make those connections consciously, your revitalized body and your clear mind more easily supports transformation. And to be clear, you aren’t becoming something that you aren’t already. You are returning to your calm, wise and steady center—your essence that you were born with. Sometimes we just forget who we are. Yoga is a really great way to remember!
Some basic things to know before your first class:
- Allow a minimum of one hour after eating before practicing. Perhaps grab something light, like a banana, or some nuts or a granola bar if you’ve been running around on empty.
- Arrive a few minutes early if possible to allow the activity of the day to fall away and prepare yourself for your journey.
- Wear comfortable clothing that won’t restrict your movement. Form-fitting clothing is best so that we can see your alignment in the postures.
- Bring a Yoga mat(we rent them and sell them) and a towel to wipe away sweat.
- Drink plenty of water after class to replace fluids and help your body flush out toxins.
- Do the best you can for today; Be joyful for the gift of movement-whatever that is for YOU.