Yoga series

Yoga series

Yoga series consist of a number of asanas done in sequence, typically either in opposition to one another (commonly referred to as a "counter-pose"), or in variations of increasing difficulty (as found in the Ashtanga Vinyasa system). The most common yoga series is Surya Namaskara or the Sun Salutation, originating in the Hatha Yoga system. Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is a system of Yoga most noted for its six sets of yoga series. Bikram Yoga is also noted for its set of 26 consecutive postures.

urya Namaskara

Surya Namaskara Sanskrit for "Sun Salutation" owes its name for expressing devotion ("bhakti") to Surya, the solar deity in the Hindu pantheon, by concentrating on the Sun. The Sun Salutation is, for many yogis, an exercise to be performed at sun rise, or at least in the morning. Surya Namaskara is a sequence of twelve asanas, where the five beginning asanas overlap with the last five of the sequence. The sequence thus consists of seven unique postures. The Sun Salutation can be practiced at varying levels of awareness, ranging from that of physical exercise, to a complete "sadhana" which incorporates asana, pranayama, mantra and chakra meditation.Swami Satyananda Saraswati, "Surya namaskara", "A Technique of Solar Vitalization", ISBN 81-85787-35-2]

Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga

This style of yoga is characterized by a focus on vinyasa, or a dynamic connecting posture, that creates a flow between the more static traditional yoga postures. The vinyasa 'flow' is a variant of Surya Namaskara. The whole practice is defined by six specific series of postures, always done in the same order, combined with specific breathing patterns (ujjayi breathing).

A standard Vinyasa consists of the flow from chatarunga, or plank, to chatarunga dandasana, or low plank, to urdhva mukha svansana (Upward-facing dog), to adho mukha svasana, or Downward-facing dog. The purpose of vinyasa is to create heat in the body, which leads to purification of the body through increased circulation and sweating. It also improves flexibility, as well as tendon and hard tissue strength, allowing the student to practice advanced asanas with reduced risk of injury.

There are six series altogether. Each sequence typically begins with 10 Sun Salutations and the standing poses. This is referred to as the "opening sequence". The student then moves to either the Primary, Intermediate, Advanced A, B, C, or D, depending on his or her skill level, finally closing with a set of inverted postures, referred to as the "finishing sequence". Ashtanga Yoga is traditionally taught in "Mysore style" (supervised self practice), where each student moves through the practice at his or her own pace and level. In the West, it is more common to find classes devoted to a specific series, and guided by an instructor.

Bikram Yoga

Bikram Yoga is a style of yoga developed by Bikram Choudhury and a Los Angeles, California based company. Bikram Yoga is ideally practiced in a room heated to 105°F (40.5°C) with a humidity of 40%, and classes, which are 90 minutes long, are a guided series of 26 postures and two non-pranamic breathing exercises.

Five Tibetan Rites

The Five Tibetan Rites, more commonly referred to as "The Five Tibetans", is a derivative of Taoist Yoga and closer in nature to the practices of Chinese alchemical and martial practices of qi gung and nei gung than traditional Hindu Yoga. Lu K'uan Yu (aka Charles Luk) (1973). "Taoist Yoga: Alchemy & Immortality". Samuel Weiser, Maine.] The technique does focus on the higher level practices of chakra balancing, and the cultivation of both pranic energy and kundalini, which is what warrants its mention in this article.Kilham, Christopher S. (1994). "The Five Tibetans: Five Dynamic Exercises for Health, Energy, and Personal Power". Healing Arts Press, Vermont.]

The "Tibetans" found its way from Taoist Yoga into Tibetan Buddhist practice, hence the name, and was first publicized in the West by Peter Kelder in 1939, and republished in 1975.Kelder, Peter: "The Eye of Revelation" (1939, 1975), Borderland Sciences Research Foundation] The practice was re-introduced by Christopher S. Kilham in 1994, with his publication "The Five Tibetans".

Each of the Five Rites are dynamic, thus similar in nature to qi gong or vinyasa yoga. The first involves spinning 21 times with the arms stretched, like the Sufi dervish practice, and the last four by executing a simple sequence of moving back and forth between two different asana-like postures. According to Kelder, the rites are healthy because of the fitness element it contains, and that people above the age of 40 would rejuvenate by doing them each day. Kilham focuses more on the metaphysical aspects of the practice, noting the benefits of chakra balancing, energizing the pranamayakosha sheath, and awakening kundalini.


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