Mr Yoga pose

There are hundreds of types and styles of yoga, including Pilates yoga, water yoga and aerial yoga. Most styles of yoga are based on the same basic yoga poses (called asanas), however the experience one has using on style can be radically different from others. Among those with Indian names known in the United States are: Jivamkti (a kind of yoga meant to be physically stimulating and intellectually stimulating); Sivananda (a kind of yoga that integrates movement, breathing and meditation and a healthy lifestyle); Kripalu (emphasizes deep compassion, deep movements and stretching without straining); shakti (emphasizes prayer and chanting); and tantra (emphasizes mysticism and, with some types, sex). Hatha yoga, which incorporates elements of different yoga schools, is the most popular kind.

Most types of yoga are based on Hatha yoga (the yoga of activity). Ashtanga has a reputation for being one the most difficult types of yoga to master and requires time and practice to become proficient. Ashtanga consists of six precisely-designed sequences that in turn consist of a series of postures linked through movements called vinyasas . Each change of position is accompanied by “breathing units." The emphasis is one flexibility and flow. The methods were created by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, a strict Brahmin and Sanskrit scholar from Mysore.

Anusara yoga was designed by a man who convinced female disciples to join a secret organization where they took off their clothes. Acroyoga participants are held in the air. Ariel yoga is similar to acroyoga except participants are suspended from the ceiling in a sling Iyengar — whose name is derived from a yoga master who was still practicing in Pune at the age of 85 in 2002 — is based on Hatha yoga and emphasizes process, actions of the body and maintaining the classic yoga positions. The goal is often is to master a position and then hold it for as long as possible. Teacher often walk around and helps students correct their positions.

Kundalini (meaning “coiled hair of the beloved”) is said to be one of the oldest forms of yoga. It is based in oral traditions, some say, which go back thousands of years. Not based on Hatha yoga, it focuses on channeling energy up through the spine and uncoiling it like a serpent. Practitioners learn to relax and meditate while holding the positions. Sessions involve the chanting of mantras, breathing exercises and even singing.

Types of Yoga Found in India

Types of yoga found in India include 1) Japa Yoga, whose practitioners concentrate one’s mind on divine name or holy syllable, mantra etc. like ’OM’, ‘Rama’, ’Allah’, ’God’, ’Vahe Guru’ etc. through repeated recitation or remembrance; 2) Gyana Yoga, which teaches users to discriminate between self and non-self and to acquire the knowledge of one’s spiritual entity through the study of scriptures, company of Saints and practices of meditation; 3) Karma Yoga, which teaches users to perform all actions without having any desire for their fruit. In this sadhana, a Yogi considers his duty as divine action, perform it with whole-hearted dedication but shuns away all desires. [Source: ayush.gov.in ~]

Gayatri Japa, The Secret Prayer (1851)

4) Bhakti Yoga, a system of intense devotion with emphasis on complete surrender to divine will. The true follower of Bhakti Yoga is free from egoism remains humble and unaffected by the dualities of the world. 5) Raja Yoga popularly known as “Ashtanga Yoga” is for all-round development of human beings. These are Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. ~

6) Swara Yoga is the Science which is about the realization of cosmic consciousness, through the awareness/ observation then control/ manipulation of the flow of breath in the nostrils. Swara Yoga involves the systematic study of the breath flowing through the nostril (or Swara) in relation to the prevailing phases of the Sun, Moon, time of day and direction. It is the association of the breath in relation to the activities or phases or positions of the Sun, Moon, Planets, Seasons, Time of day, with the physical and mental conditions of the individual and then taking the appropriate action according to these subtle relations. ~

7) Nadi: As described by Yogic texts, Nadis are flow of energy which we can visualize at the psychic level as having distinct channels, light, colour, sound and other characteristics. The entire network of nadis is so vast that even yogic texts differ in their calculations of the exact number. Reference in the Goraksha Sataka or Goraksh Samhita and Hatha Yoga Pradipika place their number at 72,000; emerged from the navel center- the Manipuri Chakra. Of all the thousands of nadis, Susumna is said to be the most important. The Shiva Swarodaya enumerates ten major nadis which connect to the ‘doorways’ leading in and out of the body. Of these ten, Ida, Pingala and Sushumna are the most important, they are the high voltage wires which conduct the energy to the substations or Chakras situated along the spinal column. ~

Types of Yoga Popular in the U.S.

1) Hatha yoga according to gaiam.com “is a generic term that refers to any type of yoga that teaches physical postures. Nearly every type of yoga class taught in the West is Hatha yoga. When a class is marketed as Hatha, it generally means that you will get a gentle introduction to the most basic yoga postures. You probably won't work up a sweat in a hatha yoga class, but you should end up leaving class feeling longer, looser, and more relaxed. [Source: gaiam.com |::|]

Jivamukti Yoga was created by David Life and Sharon Gannon in 1984, and since then have studied with a number of teachers, including Swami Nirmalananda and Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. The classes resemble ashtanga in the vinyasa-style flow through asanas. Each class begins with a standardized warm-up sequence unique to jivamukti and often teachers will incorporate weekly themes, chanting, meditation, readings and affirmations. [Source:doyogawithme.com ++]

Anusara founder John Friend in Copenhagen in 2010

Anusara was developed by American yogi John Friend in 1997. It is a relatively new style of hatha that teaches a set of Universal Principles of Alignment that underlie all yoga postures, while encouraging flowing with grace and following your heart. The practice of anusara is broadly categorized into three parts, known as the Three A's. They include attitude, alignment and action. Based on the belief that we’re all filled with an intrinsic goodness, Anusara seeks to use the physical practice of yoga to help students open their hearts, experience grace, and let their inner goodness shine through. Classes, which are specifically sequenced by the teacher to explore one of Friend's Universal Principles of Alignment, are rigorous for the body and the mind. ++ |::|

Sivananda, according to doyogawithme.com, “is a form of hatha founded by Swami Sivananda and brought to the west by Swami Vishnu-devananda. A class typically begins with Savasana (relaxation pose), kapalabhati and anuloma viloma, followed by a few rounds of surya namaskara. The class then moves through Sivananda's twelve asanas, which together are designed to increase strength and flexibility of the spine. Chanting and meditation can also be a part of a full-length class. Vishnu-devananda later founded the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers, summerizing Sivananda's system into five main principles: proper exercise (asanas); proper breathing (pranayama); proper relaxation (savasana); proper diet (vegetarian); and positive thinking (vedanta) and meditation (dhyana).

Restorative is a gentle, relaxing, passive style that allows students to relax and release the body into a gentle stretch that is held for as long as 10 minutes. Also described as yin yoga, this style makes use of a wide range of props, including bolsters, blocks, straps and blankets bolsters, blankets, and blocks to prop students into passive poses so the body can experience the benefits of a pose without having to exert any effort. The intention is to provide support within each pose, making it easier to completely leg go. Restorative yoga is a good way to relax and nurse stressed-out nerves. |::| ++

Yin yoga, according to doyogawithme.com, “is a slow-paced style in which poses are held for five minutes or longer. Even though it is passive, yin yoga can be quite challenging due to the long holds, particularly if your body is not used to it. The purpose is to apply moderate stress to the connective tissue - the tendons, fascia and ligaments - with the aim of increasing circulation in the joints and improving flexibility. It was founded and first taught in the U.S. in the late 1970s by martial arts expert and Taoist yoga teacher Paulie Zink. Yin-style is now begin taught across North America and in Europe, due in large part to two of the more prominent instructors, Paul Grilley and Sarah Powers. ++

“Viniyoga refers to an approach to yoga that adapts the various means and methods of practice to the unique condition, needs and interests of the individual. Created by T.K.V. Desikachar, the goal is to give the practitioner the tools to individualize and actualize the process of self-discovery and personal transformation. Integrative yoga therapy (IYT) brings together asanas, pranayama, mudra, yoga nidra, mantra and meditation into a complete package where they can be utilized for therapy. Founded by Joseph Le Page in 1993, IYT was an attempt to create a training program with the focus on yoga as a healing art, and has designed programs specifically for medical and mainstream wellness settings, including hospital and rehabilitation centres. ++

Hatha Yoga

Kapala Asana (headstand from Jogapradipika (1830)

Hatha is a general category that includes most yoga styles. It is an old system that includes the practice of asanas (yoga postures) and pranayama (breathing exercises), which are believed to help bring peace to the mind and body and prepare the body for deeper spiritual practices such as meditation. Today, the term hatha is used so broadly that it is difficult to predict what an individual hatha class will be like. In most cases, however, they tend to relatively easy, gentle, slow. They are great for beginners or students who prefer a more relaxed style where they hold poses longer. [Source: doyogawithme.com ++]

According to to Yoga Journal: “Most forms of yoga in the West can be classified as Hatha Yoga. Hatha simply refers to the practice of physical yoga postures, meaning your Ashtanga, vinyasa, Iyengar and Power Yoga classes are all Hatha Yoga. The word “hatha” can be translated two ways: as “willful” or “forceful,” or the yoga of activity, and as “sun” (ha) and “moon” (tha), the yoga of balance. Hatha practices are designed to align and calm your body, mind, and spirit in preparation for meditation. [Source: yogajournal.com]

According to Ellen Stansell, a scholar of yogic literature, the term Hatha yoga may date back as the 12th century and seem to have originated as an alternative to more passive forms of ritual practices such as meditation. Indian gurus who brought yoga to the West the mid-19th century to distanced themselves from hatha yoga, which they associated with fakirs and wandering street mendicants called yogins. In his book “Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice,” Mark Singleton said it wasn’t the late 19th century that hatha yoga caught on as quasi form of exercise. See History of Yoga. [Source:Ann Pizer, verywell.com, April 14, 2017 \=]

Ann Pizer wrote in verywell.com: “Today, hatha is most often used to describe gentle, basic yoga classes with no flow between poses. Expect a slower-paced stretching-focused class with some basic pranayama breathing exercises and perhaps a seated meditation at the end. Hatha classes are a good place to work on your alignment, learn relaxation techniques, and become comfortable with doing yoga while building strength and flexibility. Just to confuse things, some studios throw something called hatha flow into the mix. Wait, didn't we just say that hatha wasn't flow? Classes in which you move from pose to pose in a sequence without resting can also correctly be described as vinyasa. To further add to the muddle, you might see both hatha flow and vinyasa on the schedule at your local studio. In this case, expect the vinyasa to be a little more vigorous, but so much depends on the style of each individual teacher. \=\

According to ishayoga.org: “Hatha Yoga stems from a deep understanding of the mechanics of the body, and uses yogic postures, or yogasanas, to enable the system to sustain higher dimensions of energy. By practicing this profound science, one can change and enhance the way they think, feel, and experience life. Hatha Yoga is about creating a body that is not a hurdle in your life. The body becomes a stepping stone in the progress towards blossoming into your ultimate possibility. Sadhguru said: “Hatha Yoga is the science of using the body to prepare oneself for the ultimate possibility... Hatha Yoga is the phenomenon of aligning the human system with the cosmic – a way to hold one’s system in a way that it will become a receptacle to receive and hold the entire cosmos.” [Source: ishayoga.org /*]

Isha Hatha Yoga comprises of the five ancient and powerful practices that transform the body and mind into great possibilities: 1) Upayoga is a set of 10 powerful practices that activate the joints, muscles and energy system. It rejuvenates the entire system. 2) Angamardana is a series of 30 processes to invigorate the body and reach peak physical fitness and mental health. 3) Surya Kriya is a potent 21-step yogic practice of tremendous antiquity, designed as a holistic process for health, wellness, and complete wellbeing. 4) Yogasanas are a set of powerful postures for elevating one’s consciousness, stabilizing one’s mind, emotions and energy system and decelerating the aging process. 5) Bhuta Shuddhi is a process of purifying the five elements within the human system leading to harmony and balance. /*\

Kundalini Yoga

Kundalini (meaning “coiled hair of the beloved”) is said to be one of the oldest forms of yoga. It is based in oral traditions, some say, which go back thousands of years. Not based on Hatha yoga, it focuses on channeling energy up through the spine and uncoiling it like a serpent. Practitioners learn to relax and meditate while holding the positions. Sessions involve the chanting of mantras, breathing exercises and even singing.

According to the Indian government: Kundalini Yoga is a part of Tantric tradition. Since ancient times, Tantric yogis have realised that in this physical body, there is a potential force residing in Muladhara Chakra, the first of seven Chakras. The seat of Kundalini is a small gland at the base of the spinal cord. In the masculine body it is in the perineum between the urinary and excretory organs. In the female body its location is at the root of the uterus in the cervix. Those people who have awakened this supernatural force have been called Rishis, Prophets, Yogis, Siddhas and other names according to the time, tradition and culture. [Source: ayush.gov.in]

Brought to the west by Yogi Bhajan, Kundalina looks and feels quite different than any other types of yoga due to its focus on repetitive, enhanced breathing and the movement of energy through the body. It incorporates repeated movements or exercises, dynamic breathing techniques, chanting, meditation and mantras. Each specific kundalini exercise, referred to as a kriya, is a movement that is often repeated and is synchronized with the breath. The practice is designed to awaken the energy at the base of the spine in order to draw it upward through each of the seven chakras. To awaken the Kundalini, you must prepare yourself through yogic techniques such as Shatkriya, Asana, Pranayama, Bandha, Mudra and Meditation. Awakening of Kundalini results in an explosion in the brain as the dormant or sleeping areas start blossoming like flowers. [Source: doyogawithme.com ++]

Ashtanga Yoga

ashtanga asana

Ashtanga is based on ancient yoga teachings, but it was popularized and brought to the West by K. Pattabhi Jois (pronounced "pah-tah-bee joyce") in the 1970s. It is a rigorous style of yoga that follows a specific sequence of postures and is similar to vinyasa yoga, as each style links every movement to a breath. The difference is that Ashtanga always performs the exact same poses in the exact same order — a sweaty, physically demanding practice. [Source: gaiam.com |::|]

Ashtanga is typically fast-paced, vigorous and physically challenging. If you attend an ashtanga class at a studio you will be led nonstop through one or more of the ashtanga series, while being encouraged to breathe as you move from pose to pose. Each series is a set sequence of asanas, always in the same order. There are six series in total, increasing in difficulty as you move from the primary series on. Even though a typical class moves quite quickly, most Ashtanga studios offer Mysore-style classes, which allow students to work at their own pace and to be assessed by senior instructors. [Source: doyogawithme.com ++]

Describing a class by the then 84-year-old Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in Mysore, Rebecca Mead wrote in The New Yorker, “Jois doesn't teach in the manner of a Western aerobics class, by standing in the front of the room and yelling instructions. Instead each student shows up at an appointed time and works through the series of postures at his or her own place, while Jois, barrel-stomached in black Calvin Klein briefs and, and bare-chested except for his Brahmin stings performs what are known in the yoga business as adjustments---winching a leg into place or leaning heavily on a student's back to stretch him or her further." [Source: Rebecca Mead The New Yorker, August 14, 2000 \=/]

“All the men are stripped to the waist, the women are in spandex, and all of them are slick with sweat as they twist their bodies in unimaginable knots or deep into breathtaking backbends, seeming to hang suspended in the air they jump from one position to the next...The room is silent but for the subtle chorus of long, repetitive, nasal hisses, and occasional pigeon English command from Jois, who barks, “Nooooo! You go down!...It is a serenity born of concentration and pain---torture meets bliss." \=/

On her first 5:00am lesson Mead said that Jois “had alarmed me while I was attempting a forward bend by coming up behind me, grabbing my hips, and tipping me over so that my head hovered inches above the ground and my feet almost slipped out from under me: it's hard to think about meditating when the only thing preventing your head from crashing on the concrete floor is the physical strength of an octogenarian." Initiates often have castor oil smeared all their head an body, a process that is supposed make them more supple but often makes them physically sick. \=/

legs contrained using Iyengar yoga

“At Jois's daily afternoon conference...students are invited to sit with him and ask questions about yoga theory and about his life...The atmosphere is more one of companionable comfort than pedagogical rigor: on many afternoons, Jois, who is known as Gurji, will settle in his chair in his tank top and dhoti...and immerse himself in the newspaper, while his students sit cross-legged in beatific silence at his feet." Most of the participants in Jois's classes are Westerners who engage in normal backbacker activities when they are not in the classes. Local Indians often have little time or little interest in yoga. Those that are interested in it are often in to it as way to make money from Westerners. \=/

Iyengar Yoga

Iyengar — whose name is derived from a yoga master who was still practicing yoga at the age of 85 in 2002 — is based on Hatha yoga and emphasizes process, actions of the body and maintaining the classic yoga positions. The goal is often is to master a position and then hold it for as long as possible. Teacher often walk around and helps students correct their positions.

Iyengar yoga was developed and popularized by B.K.S. Iyengar (pronounced "eye-yen-gar"), who taught classes from his home in Pune, India and has become one of the most influential yoga gurus of all time. According to doyogawithme.com: “The trademark of iyengar is the intense focus on the subtleties of each posture. In a typical iyengar class, poses are held much longer than in other schools of yoga, in an effort to pay closer attention to the precise musculoskeletal alignment within each asana. Another trademark of iyengar is the use of props, such as blocks, belts, bolsters, chairs and blankets, which are used to accommodate injuries, tightness or structural imbalances, as well as teach the student how to move into a posture properly.” [Source: doyogawithme.com]

gaiam.com says: “Iyengar is a very meticulous style of yoga, with utmost attention paid to finding the proper alignment in a pose. In order to help each student find the proper alignment, an Iyengar studio will stock a wide array of yoga props — blocks, blankets, straps, chairs and bolsters are all common. There isn't a lot of jumping around in Iyengar classes, so you won't get your heart rate up, but you'll be amazed to discover how physically and mentally challenging it is to stay put. Iyengar teachers must undergo a comprehensive training — if you have an injury or chronic condition, [Source: gaiam.com]

Vigorous and Sweaty Styles of Yoga

Vinyasa: Like hatha, vinyasa is a general term that describes many different styles of yoga. It essentially means movement synchronized with breath and is a vigorous style based on a rapid flow through sun salutations. Vinyasa (pronounced "vin-yah-sah") is a Sanskrit word for a phrase that roughly translates as "to place in a special way," referringto a sequence of poses. Vinyasa classes are known for their fluid, movement-intensive practices. You may also see a vinyasa class referred to as a flow class, which refers to the continuous flow from one posture to the next. Vinyasa teachers sequence their classes to smoothly transition from pose to pose, with the intention of linking breath to movement, and often play music to keep things lively. The intensity of the practice is high, but one vinyasa class may be very different from another. [Source: doyogawithme.com ++, |::|]

Hatha yoga components and objectives

Bikram: In the 1980s “Bikram Choudhury developed this school of yoga where classes are held in artificially heated rooms. In a Bikram class, you will sweat like never before as you work your way through a series of 26 poses. Like Ashtanga, a Bikram class always follows the same sequence, although a Bikram sequence is different from an ashtanga sequence. Bikram is somewhat controversial, as Choudhury trademarked his sequence and has sued studios who call themselves Bikram, but don't teach the poses exactly the way he says they should. It’s also wildly popular, making it one of the easiest classes to find. See More on Bikram Below |::|

Hot Yoga is largely the same thing as Bikram. Generally, the only difference between Bikram and hot yoga is that the hot yoga studio deviates from Bikram's sequence in some small way, and so they must call themselves by another name. The room will be heated and you will sweat buckets, so check out our mats and accessories specifically designed for hot yoga classes. |::|

Power yoga is used to describe a vigorous, vinyasa-style yoga. Developed by two American yogis, Beryl Bender Birch and Bryan Kest, both of whom studied with Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, it originally closely resembled ashtanga and was an attempt to make ashtanga more accessible to Western students. It differs, however, in that it is not a set series of poses, but rather allows the instructor freedom to teach what they want. Power yoga is popular around the globe but the way is taught can vary.

DDP Yoga: Brawny, Hybrid Yoga

DDP Yoga, a form of yoga that blends calisthenics and rehabilitation techniques, became popular in the United States in the early 2010s. Reuters reported: “Fitness experts say DDP Yoga may lack the relaxation benefits of a more traditional yoga practice, but it can be a well-balanced and effective exercise workout. Shirley Archer, an American Council on Exercise spokesperson, said DDP Yoga features traditional yoga postures in a non-traditional format. "The style is oriented toward a fighter's workout," she said. [Source: Reuters, May 6, 2013]

“The program incorporates all aspects of fitness-cardio training, muscle strength and endurance, flexibility and balance but it does not include the meditative or relaxation benefits of traditional yoga. "If you do not include the meditative aspect of yoga," Archer said, "the benefit of balancing the nervous system and encouraging restoration is lost."

“Professional wrestler Diamond Dallas Page said he developed DDP for people who wouldn't be caught dead doing the traditional mind-body practice. "At the end of 1999 I blew out my back," said Page, a three-time World Championship Wrestling (WCW) World Champion. "My wife suggested yoga and I thought, 'That's for girls.' But I tried it and was blown away by how much it helped me."

“DDP Yoga mixes traditional yoga postures with what Page calls "rehab stuff and old-school calisthenics." In mid-class he will drop down for a set of pushups in a boot camp-like setting. The postures are similar to those found in all yoga classes but Page jettisoned their Sanskrit names and beefed up their English equivalents. In DDP Yoga the crescent pose, a back-bending lunge, is re-named superstar. Mountain, or standing pose, is called touchdown and child's pose is re-dubbed safety zone. A warrior pose becomes road warrior and packs a martial arts punch. "It's a difference in tone and attitude," said Page, who has been doing workshops across the United States and will bring DDP Yoga to Scotland in June. He has also taken it to U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Terri Lange, a 61-year-old retired nurse, practices both traditional yoga and DDP Yoga. "I love the flexibility yoga gives me. I think that's the fountain of youth," said Lange, who is based in Woodstock, Georgia. But she said she likes DDP Yoga for the cardio punch it adds to her practice. "Traditional yoga is quieter. DDP Yoga is shouted commands and working with force," she said.

“Archer believes if DDP Yoga attracts men who would not otherwise be active, then that is a big bonus. "Since this program does not have a spiritual component, it is attractive to people who may not be interested in more traditional yoga," she said. Lange said the different feel of DDP Yoga attracts a lot of men disinclined "to walk into a yoga studio in tights." "It's an aggressive way to do this," she said.

Laughing Yoga

Laughing yoga is an Indian-style of yoga that blends stretching and laughing. Reporting from Bangalore,John Lancaster wrote in the Washington Post, “In the grainy half-light just after 6 a.m., a few dozen men and women gather in a small park, greeting one another beneath a canopy of flowering trees. Ranging in age from 40 to 80, they clap, form a circle -- and unleash a gale of uproarious laughter. "Ho ho. Ha ha ha. Ho ho," they guffaw, sides heaving and heads thrown back to the sky. "Ho ho. Ha ha ha. Ho ho." [Source: John Lancaster, Washington Post, April 4, 2006 =^=]

Some Finns practicing Laughter Yoga

“A passing jogger doesn't give them a second glance, and why should he? They're the regulars from the Mini Forest Laughter Club, commencing their daily ritual of smiles, giggles, chortles and belly laughs that -- in combination with stretching and breathing exercises -- make up the quintessentially Indian discipline of "laughter yoga." Named for the park where it meets 365 days a year, even during the drenching summer monsoon season, the Mini Forest Laughter Club is made up of middle-class retirees, homemakers and businessmen, among others. It is one of scores of such clubs in this chaotic, high-tech city where beggars and street urchins coexist with eminent scientists and newly minted zillionaires from the booming software and outsourcing industries. =^=

“Invented by a Bombay physician, Madan Kataria, in 1996, laughter yoga is predicated on the idea that "laughter for no reason" can promote spiritual well-being and health benefits, such as lowered blood pressure. The concept has given rise to laughter clubs in India and a number of other countries, including the United States, and inspired a 1999 documentary by celebrated Indian filmmaker Mira Nair (who also directed "Monsoon Wedding"). "Really, they are crazy," Basava Raju, a retired state bank officer who founded the Mini Forest club, said of his fellow laughter enthusiasts. "They are addicted so much," added Raju, a fit-looking 68-year-old whose business card identifies him as a yoga therapist and "laughtologist." "They don't like to miss even a single day."” =^=

Laughing Yoga Session

Describing one session, John Lancaster wrote in the Washington Post, “The morning session unfolds according to well-established ritual. After the introductory bout of "executive laughter," the group warms up with more-traditional yogic routines. Led at first by K.R.L. Narayanan, a 59-year-old chemist in khakis and running shoes, they rub their abdomens in a circular motion while repeating "Om," the sacred Hindu mantra, then extend their tongues and pant like dogs. Then the laughers step up the pace, running toward one another and slapping high-fives, clapping and marching in circles like soldiers in formation. "Go for the mobile jog!" commands Narayanan, urging the group into a gentle trot. [Source: John Lancaster, Washington Post, April 4, 2006 =^=]

“The laughing commences in earnest with a minute or two of "stretch laughter," which consists of laughing while miming the shooting of a bow and arrow toward the sky, followed by a cleansing burst of "blaster laughter." "Breathe in -- blast with the laughter!" commands Raju, the ex-banker and resident laughtologist, prompting an explosion of loud guffaws. During the 45-minute session, the group partakes of "ice cream laughter" (a low chuckle that is savored slowly), "coffee laughter" (performed while pretending to pour coffee) and "mobile laughter" (initiated by shouting, "Hello! Hello!" into an imaginary mobile phone). The hilarity is infectious, especially when the members parody a mirthful lion -- opening their mouths wide and wiggling their tongues -- in the exercise known as "lion laughter." =^=

“Some laughter exercises are more subtle. "Meditative smile, please," orders Madhav Pai, a 64-year-old retiree in hiking shorts and a Grand Canyon T-shirt. Interspersed with the laughter are various stretches as well as facial exercises to strengthen the eye muscles and tongue. As the session winds down, it acquires more of a spiritual dimension. After directing the members to hold the left hand up and the right hand down, Raju tells them to "feel yourself like an antenna," with "cosmic energy" entering the body through the left hand and "negative energy" leaving through the right. " Shanti, shanti ," he says, repeating the Hindi word for peace. "Observe the inner silence you have created." =^=

“The meeting ends with "appreciation laughter" -- members laugh while flashing each other the OK sign -- and "garland laughter," in which they garland one another with imaginary flowers. It is not yet 7 a.m. As the participants prepare to go their separate ways, Nitya Murthy, 64, a homemaker married to a retired technology executive, attests to the healing power of laughter. "I had a severe heart attack 12 years ago," she says. "I've been hospitalized five times. I've had two angioplasties." But now, thanks to the laughter club, she says, "I feel fit as a fiddle."” =^=

Kundalini chakras

Naked Yoga

Naked yoga (Sanskrit nagna yoga or vivastra yoga) is the practice of yoga without clothes. While many practice naked yoga at home and in nature, there are a growing number of participants in group classes, notably in the West. The practice of spiritual nudity is common among Digambara Jains, Aghori sadhus, and Naga sadhus. [Source: Wikipedia +]

Yoga has been practiced in the nude since ancient times. The Bhagavata Purana says: “A person in the renounced order of life may try to avoid even a dress to cover himself. If he wears anything at all, it should be only a loincloth, and when there is no necessity, a sannyasi should not even accept a danda. A sannyasi should avoid carrying anything but a danda and kamandalu.” +

Naga sadhus use nudity as a part of their spiritual practice of renunciation. The word Naga comes from NAG (snake) which signifies power in Hindu philosophy. The word sadhu derives from sadhana meaning spiritual practice. Members of the sect considered nudity a way of rejecting the material side of life. Celibacy and disregard of the harsh outside conditions were among the key ideas of their philosophy. They practiced naked yoga to tame their desires, identify with their physical bodies and to break the attachment with everything physical, sensual and material. +

Modern naked yoga is practiced in Germany and Switzerland through a movement called Lebensreform. The movement had since the end of the 19th century highlighted yoga and nudity. Blanche de Vries Bernard combined a popularity of Oriental dancing with yoga. She was 1914 put in charge of a yoga school for women in New York City and five years later, she opened an institute for female teaching ‘‘Yoga Gymnosophy’’— a name that conveys the blending of yoga and nudism. She taught until 1982. +

In the West since the 1960s, naked yoga practice has been incorporated in the hippie movement and for instance in progressive settings for well-being, such as at the Esalen Institute in California, as depicted in the 1968 film Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice. Other films with notable segments include The Harrad Experiment and Naked Yoga (1974). Actress Lena Nyman practice yoga exercises naked in a movie, I Am Curious (Yellow), from 1967. Organized naked yoga existed after mid eighties mainly among naturists, particularly in Central Europe. In New York City in 1998, an American going by the name Jayadev started a group called "Midnight Yoga for Men" where participants practiced "naked before the infinite" in the style of the sadhus. +

Another person famous for the promotion of naked yoga in the West is Aaron Star, owner of Hot Nude Yoga. He began his version of nude yoga in April 2001 becoming an instant "underground sensation" as quoted by Time Out New York. The practiced yoga combined elements of Ashtanga, Kundalini, and Contact Yoga with elements of Tantra. Because of the success of Hot Nude Yoga, nude yoga groups began to blossom all over the world, from London, Moscow, Madrid to Sydney. Many of these male-only naked yoga groups have been associated with the gay community, though often not intentionally. +

Paddleboard Yoga

Yoga classes are conducted in the cool waters of the Puget Sound off Seatlle and warmer waters in Florida, California, and Hawaii. Reporting from Seattle, Manuel Valdes of Associated Press wrote: “Adrift on a Seattle waterway, personal trainer Vicki Wilson and about a dozen women are following their yoga instructor's directions, hoisting their bodies up in a pyramid shape as they strike the downward-facing dog pose. They do this while balancing on an oversized surfboard. Around them, boats sound their horns, a train chugs away, and seagulls fly about. But never mind the noises, the ebb and flow of the water is what Wilson likes best. "It's very different than the in-studio feel," Wilson said. "You might hear a clock ticking, something artificial happening, and yes, there's the distraction of trains and boats, but with the water you have this flowing harmony." [Source: Manuel Valdes, Associated Press, July 19, 2011 +]

“Paddleboard yoga has arrived in Seattle. For about two months now, WASUP Yoga, which operates out of Surf Ballard, a local surf shop, has been offering yoga classes on the cool waters of the Puget Sound, drawing attention to the unusual sight of yoga poses on the water. Neighborhood blogs and a local TV station have featured stories about the class, and after a deal on a coupon website, classes have been filling up. "Just like regular yoga is for everyone, so too is yoga on a paddleboard. It's nice to have a little smidgen of awareness of where your body is in space. But that's not totally necessary because you can gain that in 2.2 seconds after jumping on board," said WASUP yoga instructor Hasna Atry. +\

“This new way of finding your inner chakra stems from the growing popularity of paddleboarding. Followers of paddleboarding point to Hawaii as the source of the activity, in which a person stands or kneels on an oversized surfboard and uses long paddles to move through the water. It's not uncommon to see people on boards paddling the Puget Sound or area lakes, even in the dead of a Seattle winter, donning full body wetsuits. Someone, somewhere, figured out that paddleboards are big enough to hold a person doing the cobra pose. And the practice has spread. There are now paddleboard yoga classes in at least Florida, California, Hawaii and Washington. +\

“In Atry's two-hour class, participants get a quick lesson on paddleboarding before they head to the water, where they tie to a buoy. She leads the class from her board, floating in front of them. Participants line their boards up next to each other. She starts slow, with breathing exercises before moving on to the more difficult stretches. Atry said she has modified some of the yoga postures to account for the added challenge of balancing on a board. "When you're on the paddleboard and trying to do the same postures as on land, you have completely different feedback because if you don't have your footing right, you will feel the board move around and if you aren't focusing, you will fall in the water," Wilson said after her second class.

“Wetsuits are optional, but recommended on the days it's not hot enough to warm the cool waters. Prices for the classes range from $23 for a single class to $325 for a month of unlimited classes. Atry said the surf shop plans to continue classes until early fall, and take a break once winter arrives. There have been many people new to yoga and paddleboarding trying out her class, Atry said. "Often times they'll go into the water tentatively, especially if it's their first time on a board, but it's so neat to see them jump on the board and paddle back without problem at all, having been through inversions, balancing and stretching on the board."

'Goat Yoga'

Goat yoga is practiced on a farm in Oregon, where the goats provide for animal assisted therapy. A.J. Willingham of CNN wrote: “It's actually a little hard to believe we, as both a goat- and yoga-loving society, have slept on this concept for so long. Leave it to Lainey Morse of Albany, Oregon to realize something as glorious as goat yoga. Her goat yoga classes have become so popular, there's a 1,200-person waiting list that's growing by the day. [Source: AJ Willingham, CNN, January 12, 2017 |~|]

“The classes are held at Morse's scenic western Oregon farm, where the goats have open access to the guests during their practice. Snuggles are not uncommon, and neither is the occasional upward goat on a downward dog. It's a perfect combination, Morse says. "Goats are perfect for the yoga practice because it's not only combining nature and animals, it's combining yoga, and they all go together so well." |~|

“Morse’s small farm is called "No Regrets," She owns eight goats because, well, she's always wanted to own goats and that is a dream that should not be deferred. One day, during a child's birthday party she hosted on the farm as part of a charity auction, a mother who taught yoga approached her with an interesting suggestion. "The woman said, 'You should really have a yoga class out here," Morse said. "I said okay, but the goats have to join in." It didn't take much time for the concept to catch fire. |~|

Even now, as sessions fill up and the waitlist grows by dozens — or hundreds — every day, Morse marvels at how much people are connecting to her animals. "The most fun part for me is watching people's faces when a little goat comes up to them while they're doing a yoga pose. It's a distraction, but it's a happy distraction."She says people have come from states away, and for many, there's more to their journey than just curiosity or a yen for quirky concepts. "It may sound silly, but goat yoga is really helping people," Morse says. "People come in that have anxiety, depression; they're recovering from cancer or illness." Morse also uses her goats in animal assisted therapy for people that suffer from depression or disabilities. "It's not curing diseases, but it's helping people cope with whatever they're going through." |~|

“Morse feels this on a personal level. About a year and a half ago, she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder and was going through a tough time in her personal life. "I would come home every day and spend time with my goats, and it was so therapeutic for me," she says. "It's hard to be sad and depressed when there's baby goats jumping on you."” |~|

Bikram Yoga

Bikram Yoga is one of the most extreme and physical forms of yoga. Practitioners do 26 positions twice, always in the same sequence, in 40.6 degree C (105 degrees F), with a humidity of 40 percent. The emphasis is on pushing yourself to a high, often painful, level. It is not unusual for practitioners to feel nauseous or pass out while doing the sequence.

Bikram Choudhury is the founder of Bikram yoga. He has reportedly made millions of dollars from yoga and he apparently wants more. In the early 2000s, he began suing yoga teachers that he said were using positions that he had a copyright on. One yoga teacher that was served a letter from Choudbusry said the letter was nasty and had a long list of demands, including payment of $150,000 fines. Failure to meet the terms of the letter, he said he was told, would result in a lawsuit.

Choudhury came from India to the United States in 1971. He spread his “hot yoga” technique which became very fashionable. He bought a house in Beverley Hills and began collecting Bentleys and Rolls Royces. He has reportedly compared himself to Buddha and Superman and has led his classes from a throne, wearing only a Speedo swimsuit. In the early 2000s, he obtained a copyright for the series of 26 positions and began demanding that every teacher and studio that taught his techniques owed him royalties. “You know how hot yoga got started?” a former student told The New Yorker . “Bikram was teaching a class in Japan, in the winter, and a woman sitting near the window asked if she could bring in a space heater.”

According to doyogawithme.com: “One thing you can be sure of when you attend a Bikram class is consistency. Outside of the instructor, a Bikram class is the same no matter where you go, consisting of the same, copyrighted twenty-six postures and two breathing techniques, in the same order for ninety minutes. You can also be certain that you will sweat; the room is hot and the class challenges you both physically and mentally...This form of hot yoga is meant to flush toxins, manage weight and allow students to move more deeply into poses. [Source: doyogawithme.com]

According to the BBC: Because of this consistency across the world, Mr Choudhury refers to the practice as McYoga. He teaches wearing small black pants, while followers also wear tight, skimpy clothing. Many followers are very loyal to Bikram yoga and credit it with changing their lives. Celebrities including Madonna, Andy Murray, Gwyneth Paltrow and Goldie have all participated in Bikram yoga.

Bikram Choudhury’s Attempt to Patent Yoga Poses

Bikram Choudhury, the founder of 'Hot Yoga', received trademarks for his brand of 26 yoga poses performed in a steam room. The Bikram Yoga brand has made Choudhury something of a celebrity -- his studios are all over the country, he sprinkles conversation with the names of A-list clients and friends like Quincy Jones and Shirley MacLaine, and his brand of yoga is practically a household name. Every year he reaps the profits from his best-selling books, videos and exclusive line of yoga clothing. The Indian government is not happy about the fact he erans so much money from yoga copyrights and patents.

Meena Hartenstein of ABC News wrote: “The Indian media has swirled with rumors that parliament is specifically targeting Bikram Choudhury, arguably the best-known yoga patent holder in the United States. Choudhury, who was born in Calcutta but now lives Los Angeles, built his Bikram Yoga empire on a series of 26 carefully choreographed asanas, or yoga positions, performed in a heated room and accompanied by a specific set of instructions. All of this, according to Choudhury, is patented, copyrighted and trademarked. "I have a brand name," he said. [Source: Meena Hartenstein, ABC News, May 22, 2007]

“Yet despite the notoriety, or perhaps because of it, Choudhury is a divisive figure in the yoga world. Indians argue that he has stolen their ancient traditions and is now profiting from them, while Choudhury believes he is entitled to protect his style of yoga since he created it. "No one in the world does yoga the way I do -- not even in India," he said. Vinod Gupta, head of the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library, sees it differently. "It is not his own," said Gupta. "Those asanas were created in 2500 B.C."

“The U.S. Patent Office said Choudhury does not hold a patent on his Bikram brand of yoga, but he does have patents on related products. And the routine itself is protected by a copyright, and since he also holds a trademark on his sequence of moves, he controls how Bikram Yoga is marketed and sold. None of these legal protections allow Choudhury to "own" his routine -- people are still free to practice it in the park, for example. But no one can market themselves as a licensed Bikram practitioner without his OK . Despite the brewing controversy, Choudhury said he remains unfazed. He believes that rather than trying to block him from making money, India should focus on making its own profits from yoga. "Yoga is a multimillion dollar industry," he said. "How much has India made out of it? Nothing. I think they are a little bit jealous."

Sued by Bikram Choudhury

Ben McGrath wrote in The New Yorker, “Greg Gumucio, the founder of the populist franchise Yoga, was sued in 2011 by his former mentor Bikram Choudhury, the copyright infringement and other things. Yoga to the People offers “Traditional Hot Yoga” classes at a number of its New York studios for only eight dollars. Choudhury considers himself the inventor of hot yoga as we know it, or Bikram Yoga—a rigidly prescribed sequence of twenty-six postures to be endured with the thermostat set to a hundred and five degrees, for maximal sweating. Gumucio’s classes use the same sequence and aspire to thermostatic consistency. (“It’s really hard to maintain a steady temperature,” he said.) Choudhury’s suit refers to Gumucio’s operation as the Napster of yoga. [Source: Ben McGrath, The New Yorker, February 6, 2012 ||||]


““It’d be like if Arnold Schwarzenegger said, ‘O.K., five lunges, three bench presses, and ten squats—I own that workout,’ ” Gumucio suggested.“Bikram is a much more compelling person than I am,” he said, and attributed his falling out with Choudhury to the realization that strong personalities and yoga are to some extent spiritually incompatible. Within the restaurant, however, he appeared to have achieved the status of a guru, as first the sommelier (female) and then a co-owner, John McDonald, stopped by to pay their respects. “Thank God yoga still belongs to the people,” McDonald, an extreme-sports buff, said, while munching on a vinegary potato chip. Then he added, sarcastically, “You know, I think I’m going to copyright potato chips—a sequence of potato chips!” ||||

In December 2011, “one of Gumucio’s attorneys received an e-mail response from the acting chief of the U.S. Copyright Office’s performing-arts division that seemed to justify McDonald’s cavalier attitude. After a legislative review, the note said, the office had determined “that exercises, including yoga exercises, do not constitute the subject matter that Congress intended to protect as choreography.” Emboldened, Gumucio’s side filed a countersuit (“Each and every one of the yoga postures . . . used in Bikram Yoga classes was developed and recorded hundreds, if not thousands, of years ago, and are in the public domain”), seeking reimbursement for legal fees.

Gumucio... brought up a magazine story from ten years ago, entitled “Yogis Behaving Badly,” in which Choudhury said, of the yogi-student relationship, “What happens when they say they will commit suicide unless you sleep with them? . . . Sometimes having an affair is the only way to save someone’s life.” As if in implied contrast, Gumucio mentioned that as a result of the lawsuit he was introduced to the feminist Catharine MacKinnon. They had since designed a T-shirt with an anti-rape message together.

In response to the countersuit against Choudhury, his lawyer, Robert Gilchrest, said. “We will explain precisely why Greg was expelled from Bikram Yoga and the conduct that precipitated his expulsion. We’ll let the public decide whether Greg’s a guy who can be trusted...There is a huge issue at play here,” and brought up popular exercise videos published by New York City Ballet, Cindy Crawford, and Jane Fonda. “Then you’ve got Jazzercise, Tae Bo,” he said. “What’s being implied by Gumucio really throws into jeopardy the existing copyright to all of those exercise videos.”

Bikram Choudhury Issued an Arrest Warrant

In May 2017, A Los Angeles judge issued a warrant for Bikram Choudhury after he failed to pay more than $6 million to his former lawyer in a sexual harassment case. The BBC reported: “Mr Choudhury fled California shortly after he was ordered to pay Minakshi Jafa-Bodden punitive damages. He was served court papers in Mexico, where he is holding training classes. The judge also set bail for him at $8 million .

Ms Jafa-Bodden was head of legal and international affairs at Mr Choudhury's Los Angeles yoga school from 2011 until 2013. She said she was abruptly sacked from her position for refusing to cover up an investigation into a rape allegation. Mr Choudhury claimed during his trial that he was nearly bankrupt because of the high cost of his legal fees and because his business was no longer thriving. A lawyer for Ms Jafa-Bodden told AFP news agency that they would keep pursuing Mr Choudhury "however long it takes, wherever it takes". [Source: BBC, May 25, 2017]

Mr Choudhury had dismissed the allegations during the trial and said Ms Jafa-Bodden was sacked from her job because she did not have a licence to practice law in the US. "Ms Jafa-Bodden faced retaliation and intimidation when she refused to stay silent about witnessing illegal behaviour," her attorney, Mark Quigley, said in a statement.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons and Amazon

Text Sources: Internet Indian History Sourcebook sourcebooks.fordham.edu “World Religions” edited by Geoffrey Parrinder (Facts on File Publications, New York); “Encyclopedia of the World's Religions” edited by R.C. Zaehner (Barnes & Noble Books, 1959); “Encyclopedia of the World Cultures: Volume 3 South Asia” edited by David Levinson (G.K. Hall & Company, New York, 1994); “The Creators” by Daniel Boorstin; “A Guide to Angkor: an Introduction to the Temples” by Dawn Rooney (Asia Book) for Information on temples and architecture. National Geographic, the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Smithsonian magazine, Times of London, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton's Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Last updated September 2018

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