There are large variations in intensity between styles of yoga based on oxygen consumption and heart rate. Variation in intensity between yoga styles was due to the variability of what practitioners were doing over the whole arc of a yoga practice. Yoga practice could range from higher intensity sun salutations to lower intensity seated postures. A heated practice room, such as that in Bikram, and length of holding postures also contributed to differences in intensity ratings.

Students seek out a yoga class or practice for many different reasons. Additionally, what we mean by yoga varies considerably from one practice style to another. For these reasons, it can be helpful to identify some objective measures to describe individual yoga styles. This can help new practitioners make more informed choices about what yoga styles to begin with when they are starting out, based on what their intentions are with respect to starting a yoga practice.

Yoga is a versatile, variable tool that can have an impact on many different aspects of our well-being. We may seek out a yoga practice for many different reasons. So, it’s helpful to have a clearer picture of what individual styles of yoga offer. This article provides information about the physiological impacts of common styles of yoga practice. That can help us make choices about which style might be a good fit for us.

The intensity of yoga styles based on oxygen consumption:

  • Hatha, Gentle or Soft Flow = light
  • Yin = light
  • Bikram = light
  • Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Rocket = moderate

The intensity of yoga styles based on heart rate:

  • Yin = light
  • Bikram = vigorous
  • Gentle = light
  • Hatha = light/moderate
  • Iyengar = light/vigorous
  • Power = moderate
  • Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Rocket = moderate

Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, Rocket Yoga and Vinyasa Flow

Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga

is an ancient system of yoga. For each movement, there is one breath. Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is both a dynamically aerobic and meditative practice. It was primarily introduced to practitioners in the West by Shri K. Pattabhi Jois, a dedicated yogi, and Sanskrit scholar. As taught by Jois, Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is a form of Hatha Yoga that focuses on asana (posture), pranayama (breath control), and vinyasa (the linking of postures by breath and movement). An important part of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is a deep sort of breathing we call ujjayi or victorious breath, bandhas or energy locks, and Drishti or our eye gaze.

Rocket Yoga

also known as "the Rocket" is a style of yoga, developed by Larry Schultz in San Fransisco during the 1980s. Rocket yoga is rooted in the practice of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. It is composed of poses from the Primary and Intermediate series of Ashtanga. It was first called "Rocket" by Bob Weir because "it gets you there faster." Rocket Yoga is a dynamic and fast-paced flow of yoga. Students are encouraged to make their own interpretation of the traditional asana or can remove or modify binding postures that tend to cause students to get stuck in the traditional series. The Rocket is also divided into a three-part series: Rocket 1, Rocket 2, and Rocket 3. Each series focuses on targeted body strength and flexibility. Typically, Rocket 1 is practiced on Monday and Thursday, Rocket 2 on Tuesday and Wednesday, Rocket 3 on Friday, and Ashtanga Primary Series would be practiced on Sunday, and optionally on Thursday instead of Rocket 1. As in the tradition of Ashtanga Yoga, Saturday is the day to rest from physical forms of yoga. The Rocket 1 series is based on the Modified Primary Series. The Rocket 2 is based on the Intermediate series of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. Rocket 3 (aka "Happy Hour" because you get two classes for one) is a combination of Rocket 1 and Rocket 2, practiced at a brisk pace to cover 90 poses in 90 minutes.

Vinyasa Flow Yoga

is also a dynamic yoga style but it can vary from soft to vigorous depending on the level of the group or student. Vinyasa Yoga is a teacher's interpretation of traditional yoga practice, based on the purpose of the class. If we want to emphasize that the class is slow-paced then we can call it Soft or Slow Vinyasa Flow or Gentle Flow. In a typical Slow Flow class, you will practice about half the number of poses you might practice in a Vinyasa Flow class. The pace is meditative, emphasizing peace and calm in body and mind. We hold poses longer, taking several rounds of breath in each pose, instead of moving to each breath. In that class, the asanas are practiced with an internal softness. You will focus on working in the poses using your breath, movement, and internal strength rather than the outer muscles. That type of Yoga is of medium intensity and the best way to start with your yoga practice to find out your preferences.

Yin Yoga

is a part of the original Hatha Yoga tradition. It combines the influences of Indian Yoga with Chinese Daoist practices and Western science to improve our health on many levels. With its emphasis on long-held, passive stresses of the deeper connective tissues, Yin Yoga mobilizes and strengthens our joints, ligaments, and deep facial networks. Most poses are done lying or sitting on a yoga mat or soft carpet and held for 2-5 minutes. In Yin Yoga class we're not stretching the tissue but rather, stressing it, and then allowing time for rest and repair. We are using the physical postures to help us in getting to a unity of the mind and the body. It is a platform for meditation.

Restorative yoga

is a deeply relaxing style of yoga practice. It is a receptive practice, not an active practice. Unlike the more active styles of yoga where poses "flow" into one another, restorative yoga poses are held from five to as long as twenty minutes. During this time, you are held in "shapes" while being supported with blankets, blocks, or bolsters (pillows). The shapes emulate the forms of some more active poses found in Ashtanga, Vinyasa, or Iyengar such as backbend, forward bend, twist, or inversion. When you are in the poses you are completely supported in a particular shape, which helps achieve the desired benefit - it could open up your lungs, release tension in your lower back, or any of the other physical or psychological benefits. In any style of yoga, part of the practice is about letting go of the ego. Restorative yoga is no different. Yoga teaches patience, devotion, and faith. When you apply the teachings both on and beyond the mat, your mind is better able to adjust to the stresses of everyday life and is brought into harmony with your body.

Read more about yoga history, philosophy, and styles by clicking here.

The new solar year is upon us as the Earth begins to tilt back toward the Sun, signifying the completion of another life cycle before the emergence of spring. For thousands of years the Winter Solstice has been celebrated around the world—acknowledging the shortest day of the year as a return to light, a return to innocence; a rebirth along the wheel of life as the great world continues to spin.

During this cycle, we are invited to realign with our goals and ideals as we look toward the new year ahead—despite the chaos of the holiday season as the calendar turns.

Winter Solstice has been a time of celebration, rest, and emotional and physical nourishment for thousands of years.

Setting intentions at the winter solstic practice

As we lay out the framework for our plans, we are building a path that lights the way through the darkness of winter and guides us toward our brightest future. Through continued refinement of our goals, a willingness to understand that mistakes will be made and that we may need to change course along the way, intentions are little stepping stones that lead us like a compass toward our highest potential. An intention is the starting point of a dream; what makes the unconscious conscious. It is the creative power that fulfills our heart’s desires, be it career or relationships, money or material things, personal or spiritual ascension.

Solstice practice

Winter Solstice in the Northern hemisphere coincides with the sun’s ingress into earth-sign Capricorn, the sign traditionally aligned with the knees. Kneel in gratitude for your body, your practice, your life. Let saying the word knees be a kind of yogic mnemonic for thinking about your needs. Which ones really could use some attention now? While you are working on the answer to that question, please your knees in these poses, which connect you to Mother Earth.

Much like our yoga practices, our intentions are always in flow—and are changing from moment to moment. Through the ritual of practice, the intentions we set in motion will automatically become second nature, as old layers, habits, and selves begin to fall away in this great unraveling toward the Self; our truest nature. And like a seed, an intention must be planted, nourished, and given patience. But an intention cannot grow if we cling to it—it must be released outwardly to make itself known to the universe.

Activate your intentions for the new year by turning inward and awakening your inner fire; by learning to see in the dark. Think of the Winter Solstice as the fourth and final movement of your 2020 life-symphony. Synchronize your breath to movement that’s strong and intuitive. Go slowly, and let go of what no longer serves you so that you may clear the slate for all that is coming your way.

Estonia should be your next yoga retreat destination. Here's why

Estonia is a hidden gem packed with opportunities to try something new and have experiences you would not have in most other countries.

Estonia has a long history of different settlers from Vikings to the medieval merchants of German, Swedish, Danish and Russian descent. Today’s Estonia is an exciting mix of old and new. The capital Tallinn is the best preserved medieval city in Northern Europe and its Old Town is listed as a UNESCO cultural heritage sight. At the same time, it is a bubbling and innovative city filled with trendy cafes, restaurants, and shops. Driving out of the city for only an hour and you will find yourself in wild nature.

If you want to combine a relaxing yoga holiday in nature but also experience some of the rich cultural life in a historical setting – Estonia is the perfect holiday destination for you. Estonia is a very compact country so you can cover a lot in just a week.

A Yoga Retreat in Estonia will offer you:

  • A relaxing week staying in a spa in a small seaside village near the capital Tallinn. It is a perfect location for a getaway to recharge your batteries, enjoy massages, saunas or other wellness and beauty treatments, sunbathe and swim in the sandy beaches.
  • A chance to discover the spectacular nature of Estonia. The country is famous for its untouched wild nature and especially its beautiful bogs. You can have a once in a lifetime experience by visiting a bog on sunrise – the unique landscape with sun rays slowly emerging through the morning mist is something that you will never forget. At the end of the trail you can enjoy the view from a watchtower or take a refreshing dip in the lake.
  • An acquaintance with the culture and history of Tallinn. The retreat will take place near the capital Tallinn, so there will be several options to discover its rich cultural scene. Tallinn offers a versatile experience to anyone interested in architecture, history, design and handicrafts as well as to foodies who are looking for great culinary experiences.
  • New friends among like-minded people (solo travelers are welcome!), time for yourself to relax and rewind, lots of yoga and physical activity outdoors, healthy and tasty food. What else could you want from a holiday?

You will be accompanied by a local guide Pille, who was born and raised in Estonia. She will guide you through the yoga lessons, take you to the local’s favorite places that you won’t find in a travel guide and help you with everything you might need for a comfortable stay.

Read more about our Estonian yoga retreat by clicking here.

What is Sun Salutation and why we practice it

Surya - the Sun, soul, source of all life
Namaskar - greening or salute

Sun Salutation originated in the Hatha Yoga tradition in the 9 century in India. Many variations are possible. Surya Namaskar is a series of postures (asanas in Sanskrit) linked together in a graceful flow. It can be a complete practice in and of itself or used to warm up and prepare the body before your yoga practice. In Ashtanga Yoga there are Sun Salutation A and B which are slightly different from Hatha yoga Sun Salutation. It is a beautiful greeting, but it was also meant to be a transformative experience to release the burden of our personal obsessions and just come back to the essence, The power of a Namaskar is in its refined simplicity; the combination of movements creates a physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual syncopation. In ancient times people would practice Surya Namaskar at sunrise, facing the Sun in the East.

The Benefits of Sun Salutations:

  • Increases blood circulation
  • Boost energy
  • Unwind the mind – find your center
  • Find gratitude
  • Creates more strength, flexibility, and tone to the body
  • Opens and releases tension in the hamstrings, shoulders, and the chest
  • Offers great release of tension on the spine as well as helps lengthen the spine
  • Lubricates the joints
  • Ensures Heart Health
  • Great for the Lungs
  • Boosts Immunity
  • Becomes meditative through the motions - a prayer in motion
  • Aids in weight loss
  • Improves digestion
  • Calms the nervous system
  • Improves kidney function

Want to start with yoga? Free course for beginners here.

The breath- it’s the only thing that’s with you from the moment you’re born to the moment you pass.Breathing unites the body and mind together and can change the way you feel mentally, emotionally, and physically.Although breathing is a spontaneous process, conscious control of it may be taken to learn and develop correct and deep breathing techniques. Rhythmic, deep and slow breathing exercises result in establishing the natural, relaxed rhythms of the body and mind.Breathing consciously is the essence of yoga as it assists us in connecting with the subtle energy within. It is through the breath that we are able to navigate different levels of consciousness.Firstly, connecting with your breath is a method for being present. When you concentrate on each aspect of the breathing process, you are present; you let go of the past and future and are focused on the moment inside the breath. This is why breathing consciously is its own meditation.By changing the breathing pattern, you can produce different states of mind. Slowing down the breath has an impact on your emotional state.

Yogic breathing combines ABDOMINAL (or diaphragmatic), THORACIC and CLAVICULAR breathing.

Abdominal breathing.Inhale while expanding the abdomen as much as is comfortable, without expanding the ribcage. At the end of the inhalation, the diaphragm will be compressing the abdomen and the navel will be at its highest point. On an exhalation, the diaphragm moves upward and the abdomen will be contracted and the navel compressed towards the spine.

Thoracic breathing.Concentrate on the sides of the chest. Discontinue any further use of the diaphragm and begin to inhale by slowly expanding the ribcage. Feel the movement of the individual ribs outwards and upward, and be aware of this expansion drawing air into the lungs. Expand the chest as much as possible. Exhale by relaxing the chest muscles. Feel the ribcage contracting and forcing the air out of the lungs. Do not use the diaphragm. 

Clavicular breathing.Clavicular breathing is breathing into the top third of the lungs and no deeper. Clavicular breathing is accomplished by raising the collarbone (clavicle) and shoulders during the in-breath and keeping the rest of the torso motionless. Clavicular breathing is the most shallow type of breathing. It brings oxygen into only the top third of your lungs.

Community for healthy lifestyle. Yoga, hiking, retreats, nutrition and wellbeing!
Follow me on Social Media
flagearth linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram