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Yoga Styles, Page 2

Another style of Yoga that has become popular with the celebrity crowd is Kundalini Yoga. The main purpose of this style of Yoga is to awaken the Kundalini force (a specific form of energy) at the base of the spine, and this is done through various moves, breathing exercises and chanting. While this sounds a bit esoteric, there are many tangible benefits to Kundalini Yoga - it promotes an overall sense of well-being, both in body and mind. While the practice can be challenging, it's generally not too taxing for beginners. The most important thing you must bring to a Kundalini Yoga studio is a lack of self-consciousness - some of the breathing and chanting may seem strange at first. And in case you've heard any stories about Kundalinis awakening and driving people mad, most of them are just that - stories. A responsible Kundalini teacher, like any other Yoga instructor, will never encourage you to do anything that's potentially harmful. In other words, use common sense. If you study Kundalini Yoga, you will never be encouraged to retreat to a mountain top and leave the world behind. It's known as the "yoga of the householder," and in that way, it's very down-to-earth.

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Kripalu Yoga looks at the whole person in its practice, emotional as well as physical. If you practice any form of Yoga for a while, you'll discover that overcoming emotional blocks will often contribute to your progress. Kripalu doesn't wait for you to find that out on your own - that's part of the package. If you want a form of Yoga that's supportive as opposed to demanding, that helps you to gain both self-awareness and self-acceptance, then the compassion of Kripalu may be what you are looking for.

While Yoga has gained popularity among the fitness crowd, there are some people who are even more concerned with its spiritual aspects. The Sanskrit word "Yoga" means "union," which is really a very complex, multi-layered subject! If the poses are of secondary concern to you, and you are more interested in mantras, meditation, pranayama (breath exercises) and searching for self-realization, then Kriya Yoga is a style you could check out. One of Kriya Yoga's most famous proponents was Paramahansa Yogananda, who came from India to the United States to establish the Self-Realization Fellowship. If you've ever read his book Autobiography of a Yogi, and if you found it inspiring and uplifting, then do explore the world of the Self-Realization Fellowship and Kriya Yoga. Another style of Yoga based on the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda is Ananda Yoga, established by his disciple, Swami Kriyananda. It focuses on meditation, affirmations, prayer and a gentle style of Asana (Yoga poses).

There are many other styles of Yoga, but these are the ones you are most likely to find. The Yoga you choose to practice should fit your personality, if you want to stick to it and make it a regular part of your life. Ask yourself: "Am I trying to become more flexible?" "Less stressed?" "Do I want to become physically fit through Yoga?" "Am I searching for something to nourish both my soul and body?" Your answers will determine which style of yoga is right for you.

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