You may have heard about lots of different kinds of yoga: Iyengar, Yin, Hatha, Anusara, Hot, Aerial, Restorative, PiYo, HiYo, Vinyasa, Su Casa, Mi Casa.
And you may wonder, what kind of yoga should I do? Am I doing the right yoga? Do I need to try other kinds of yoga? What if I don't like them?
All of those names (except for mi and su casa, of course ;>) just refer to different descriptions of hatha yoga, the practice yoga postures, from gentle to intense.
There are only three kinds of yoga that are really different and so important: energetic hatha, yin and restorative. All yoga postures are can be classified as (some combination of) backbends, forward folds, twists with different relationships to gravity.
Your practice of these postures can be muscular and warming - what I refer to as energetic hatha, a surrender to gravity - yin, or a surrender to support - restorative.
And all three are important for your long term complete health and well being. All breath inspired practice of yoga asana creates change in fascia, muscle, bone, nervous system balance, endocrine system, digestion, immune and cardio-pulmonary systems. By varying the relative amount of intelligent engagement versus intelligent surrender you can have more intentional effects on certain systems.
- Energetic yoga practice, when you're practicing some standing postures, hugging muscles to bone, lifting and moving body masses through muscular engagement, creating space and "holding" postures has tremendous impacts on muscle fibers, bone, organs and joints as well as endocrine, digestive and immune systems, mostly mediated through the shape change of muscular engagement in concert with the organic movement of the breath. You may have experienced these postures as Warrior I, II, III, Downward Facing Dog, Tree, Plank, Cobra and so on.
- Yin yoga practice, in which there are no standing postures by definition, is a surrender of the skeleton to gravity. The fascial network is profoundly changed by the longer stays in postures - 2, 3, 5 even 7 minutes. Thomas Meyer, pioneering anatomist and fascial researcher is currently proposing that the fascial system be recognized as the "Biomechanical Auto-Regulatory System" or BARS. You may have experienced yin yoga as a 2 minute toe pose, or toe squat.
- Restorative yoga practice is the most profound way to create autonomic nervous system balance, also known as stress reduction and proofing. By surrendering to support - often in concert with guided meditation, breath work or even Reiki or sound healing - we unravel habits of holding our bodies, our faces, our minds and our hearts. We remain in restorative postures for much longer - 5-15 minutes. You may have experienced restorative yoga reclining over a bolstser passively for 5 or more minutes, or simply in Savasana, final resting pose at the end of every class.
Because all facets of your body-mind need your attention and awareness, I recommend you practice each of these modalities of yoga - Energetic, Yin and Restorative - every week.
Practicing frequently is far more important than practicing long: if you practice as little as 15 minutes a day, you'll notice profound changes in as little as a week. 15 minutes twice a day will change how you live. 30 minutes twice a day will give you a new lease. Which means getting at least one energetic, one yin and one restorative practice each week is a breeze.
When you further tailor the practice by choosing poses and rhythms of practice appropriate to the season, your rewards increase exponentially. Finally having these practices outlined in advance and cued up for each day of the week, complete with a meditative, restorative rest day practice assures you're practicing in a supportive rhythm, you can tailor to your needs over time.
In Healing Yoga for the Seasons, you'll receive a new set of practices every 2 months - every new season in the Ayurvedic calendar - in a rhythm that delivers energetic, yin and restorative practices rhythmically for optimum physical and mental benefit.