REALITY: There is a kind of yoga for every person regardless of gender, age, physical abilities or fitness level.
The oldest person known to be teaching the yoga that Westerners are familiar with is 92. My kids have been practicing since they could walk as they follow my moves.
Yoga is currently practiced by a variety of professional athletes like football and hockey players, downhill skiers, bikers and any other kind of athlete you can imagine. They practice not only for the physical aspects but also because yoga helps them to focus their minds and work with their breath in ways that other types of training can’t.
There is yoga for amputees and those with a variety of other disabilities. Yoga has been very beneficial for those trying to lose weight, whether that’s 20 pounds or 200.
If you have physical or emotional issues where you feel stuck, yoga may help you to finally get past those issues.
If you’re new to the practice, you may be wondering where to start.
When I began about twelve years ago, I picked up a couple books at the bookstore and started where I was – at the very beginning with no idea what yoga was or how it would transform every aspect of my life.
I bought some videos and started practicing at home since I live an hour and a half from the closest yoga studio.
I would suggest attending classes taught by different teachers to get a taste of the variety that yoga offers. Like any other human connection, you may click with some teachers and be repelled by others.
Follow your heart and do what feels good. Take things at your own pace.
Once you start practicing on a regular basis, you may hear about many different types of yoga. I was generally confused with all the different names because they all seemed to be doing the same thing: asana (the postures or movements), pranayama (breathing techniques) and meditation.
I read short descriptions online or in Yoga Journal and still couldn’t figure out the difference.
Then I read Pick Your Yoga Practice by Meagan McCrary and the differences became much more evident. Yes, the “what” is generally the same across the many varieties but the “how” and “why” can be quite different.
I had closed my mind to some types of yoga like Bikram because I couldn’t see myself sweating profusely in a 105 degree room doing the same set of postures over and over. After Meagan enlightened me more thoroughly on the “why” of this type of yoga, my mind is much more open to giving it a shot.
Pick Your Yoga Practice may be a bit advanced for the yoga newbie but it could the difference between just exercise or a lifelong passion to those who have been practicing regularly, even for a few months.
There’s a Lot More to Yoga Than You Think
Here’s an excerpt from the book:
Whether you want to become lithe and toned, address specific health issues, gain more clarity, develop a sense of peace, discover your life’s purpose or whatever it is — choosing a yoga style that supports your intentions is essential for staying on course. Here’s a guide to get you started:
To become svelte, try Ashtanga-vinyasa yoga
Ashtanga yoga is a dynamic, physically demanding practice that synchronizes breath and movement to produce a strong internal heat designed to purify the body. With its many vinyasas (vinyasa meaning “breathing-moving system”), this style is particularly great for building upper body and core strength while toning the whole body. Prepare to sweat as you briskly move through a set sequence of postures while remaining focused on your breath.
To gain stability and increase mobility, try Iyengar yoga
Iyengar yoga is the practice of precision, paying close attention to the anatomical details and alignment of each posture. Rather than moving quickly from one pose to the next, postures are built methodically with steadfast concentration and held for longer periods of time, and props are often used to modify the poses. The method is designed to safely and systematically cultivate strength, flexibility and stability along with mind-body awareness, and is particularly therapeutic for individuals with specific limitations and conditions.
To detox, try Bikram yoga
Bikram yoga is a set series of 26 postures and two breathing exercises done in 105-degree heat with 40% humidity for ninety minutes — you’re going to sweat. The specific sequence of poses systematically works every part of the body from “bones to skin,” bringing fresh, oxygenated blood to every internal organ, vein, gland and fiber, while the heat and serve to speed up the natural detoxifying process.
To become more centered, try Integral yoga
Integral yoga is a combination of yoga disciplines designed to systematically address all layers of the body, from the physical down to the more subtle aspects of being, the emotional, energetic, and mental bodies. Classes tend to be gentle, slow, and accessible, placing equal emphasis on pranayama, deep relaxation, and meditation as well as asana practice. Transforming the whole person, Integral yoga aims to help student access the place of peace and happiness that resides within each of us.
To ignite your passion and creativity, try Kundalini yoga
Kundalini yoga is a spiritual practice aimed at expanding consciousness, igniting passion and increasing physical vitality by accessing kundalini-shakti and integrating prana (your life force) throughout the body. The method is multidimensional, using rhythm, movement, breath and sound to effectively stimulate and shift your energy. Alternating between active exercises (known as kriyas) and mini-periods of relaxation, you’ll be guided to pay close attention to any internal sensations you’re experiencing — releasing stored emotional and psychological blocks and allowing creative energy to flow.
To develop more self-acceptance and compassion, try Kripalu yoga
Kripalu yoga is a comprehensive and compassionate approach to self-study that uses asana, pranayama, deep relaxation, and meditation as its primary tools for promoting physical health, calming the mind, opening the heart and developing deeper levels of self-awareness. The method is inquiry-based. Prompted by questions such as What are you feeling right now? What is your body asking for? students are encouraged to move and modify the postures, discovering what works best for them. Above all else, Kripalu emphasizes practicing with compassionate self-awareness and acceptance.
To explore spirituality, try Jivamukti yoga
Jivamukti yoga is a physically dynamic, intellectually stimulating and spiritually inspiring method that incorporates chanting, meditation, deep relaxation and pranayama into a vigorous vinyasas practice with a heavy injection of philosophy, poetry, music and affirmations. The system emphasizes the living spiritual tradition of yoga, bringing ancient teachings alive in a contemporary setting and applying the wisdom to daily life.
Whatever style of yoga you choose, being clear on your intention for practicing will help you get the most out of your time spent on the mat. And don’t beat yourself up if you fall out of practice from time to time, most of us do. Unlike resolutions, which by definition are rigid, intentions are softer, more fluid. They are riverbanks on your path, helping guide you in the direction you want to go — reminding you of the bigger picture so that you don’t get lost in the day to day.
How do you know which style is best for you?
Whichever style keeps you coming back. When in class, notice the way you feel, not only physically but also mentally and emotionally as well. How do you feel after class? Are you in a rush to run out the door, or do you find yourself lingering a little longer? One thing to keep in mind is that the class experience is as much about the teacher as it is the style of yoga their teaching. Finding a teacher that you resonate with is crucial to developing a steady yoga practice. Basically, you’ll know when you know, and the more you expose yourself to different teachers, styles and practices, the more you’ll know.
[end of excerpt]
I appreciated the indepth descriptions of these and many other types of yoga. This is the only resource I’ve found with this information and it’s something I’ve been seeking for the past few years.
I also learned much more about the mysterious history of yoga. The yoga we know today has evolved dramatically over the decades.
Whether you’re relatively new to yoga or are an experienced practitioner, there’s tons of great information for you in this book. After reading Pick Your Yoga Practice, I’m excited to try more of the styles that I had previously dismissed as “not me.”
As we learn, grow and evolve, so do our needs. This book can open the door to a new way of seeing life and yourself, regardless of where you are on your path. I highly recommend it.
I have two copies of Pick Your Yoga Practice that I’m giving away to readers who comment below on how this book can benefit them. –> Congratulations to Chris and Karen who each won a copy of Pick Your Yoga Practice!
Meagan McCrary is a Los Angeles based yoga teacher and the author of Pick Your Yoga Practice. She teaches for Equinox Sports Clubs, works one-on-one with some of the entertainment industry’s leading professionals, and holds workshops and retreats nationally and internationally. Visit her online at http://www.meaganmccrary.com.
Learn how I manage three little kids, a husband, job, writing and taking care of myself - all with mindfulness. Check out my latest guest appearance: a podcast interview at Manifested Happiness: How To Be Mindful When You're Too Busy
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