By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500
Choosing the right Yoga teacher, and a compatible style, is more complicated than most people realize. Most students should first research through the many styles available, in their local area, to determine which will best suit their needs. There are many to choose from, when you consider there are nine main Yoga styles from India. These nine main styles are: Bhakti, Raja, Karma, Jnana, Hatha, Kundalini, Tantra, Yantra, and Mantra Yoga. Each of these styles places different emphasis on the methods for union of mind, body, emotion, and spirit. There are also many hundreds of sub-styles of these forms of Yogic methodology.
Outside of India, Hatha, and its many sub-styles, is most commonly seen. With all of this in mind, researching the prospective style is very important. You should learn and compare local styles and classes, which are available to you. Then you should consider which of the following is the most important health aspect – Is it mental, physical, emotional, spiritual health, or a combination of them? All of us do not have the same needs.
For example: If you are in search of relief from stress, you might not be looking for “Boot Camp Yoga,” complete with a “drill sergeant” to bark out commands and insults for you to “shape up or ship out.” Yet, some people love boot camps for the feelings of accomplishment and empowerment, which carry over into everyday life. With that said, if you are looking for a “workout,” a class that focuses on meditation may not suit your needs. The many benefits of meditation cannot be realized by a closed mind. You cannot force yourself to meditate and neither can your Yoga teacher.
You can, at least, try to meditate, but if you are not receptive to it, you may be best to try a physical style or take a Pilates class. This is not meant to speak ill of physical styles, or Pilates, but it brings to mind a saying – “You can’t teach a pig to sing. It’s a waste of time and it annoys the pig.” So, why bother wasting time? Find a style, which fulfills your needs, and enjoy your life.
If you are searching for a Yogic exercise class, Hatha styles, such as Bikram, Vinyasa, Power, and Hot Yoga, may be just what you are looking for. Ashtanga is also physically challenging, however, Ashtanga is the Sanskrit word for “eight limbs,” and is a form of Yogic methodology described by Patanjali, in his Yoga Sutras. Ashtanga is sometimes called, “Raja” which is one of the nine main Indian styles.
Now – let’s say you are middle aged, or older – have been inactive for a while -possibly have some physical limitations – and you are searching for a style to help you get the most out of life. In this case, the gentler Hatha sub-styles, such as Restorative, Iyengar, Kripalu, and Chair Yoga, will help you age more gracefully.
Lastly, there is a form of Yogic methodology for everyone, of any age, but you want to research, educate yourself, try it out, and find the Yoga teacher who is suitable for you.
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