By Nizha Periaswamy

Millions of people across the world have benefited from the practice of yoga. In fact, the practice, believed developed by the ancient sages thousands of years ago, has blossomed vibrantly over the years and left a phenomenal impact on its practitioners.

Yoga is a method to unite the mind, body and soul. In Sanskrit, it also means "The highest state of concentration".

Yoga is a way of life which guides humans to live a wholesome life using easy techniques and methods to achieve physical and mental fitness, with minimal time, effort and expense.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his speech at the recent World Yoga celebration, called yoga as "India's gift to the world."

This art has also caught up with the Western world, and although today it is massively commercialised, yoga is still valuable as a practice in daily healthy living.

Yoga practitioners should revere to the great sage Maharishi Patanjali, who is believed to have made the existing yogic practices, systemised and codified. His "Patanjali's Yoga Sutras" are also hailed as the Yoga Bible by its practitioners.

In Malaysia, yoga has shown a drastic expansion in the past 10 years - taking many forms and types of practice. One can step into yoga centres where the art is not only taught by Indians, but also other races. Besides, yoga classes are also nowadays conducted in many fitness studios.

Before joining any yoga classes, it is best to know the many different types of Yogasana, Each type caters for a different purpose. Below are the different types of yoga:

1) Hatha is the most common type of yoga and the traditional way of practice. It is designed to align and calm your body, mind and spirit, in preparation for meditation, It is suitable for every level of practitioner, including beginners.

2) Vinyasa yoga is popular and is taught at most studios and gymnasiums. Vinyasa incorporates breath with yoga movements. It helps practitioners develop a balanced body, and it is suitable for those looking for some "adventure" in practicing the art.

3) Ashtanga yoga was introduced by Sri K Pattabhi Jois in the early 20th century, which synchronizes the breah with a progressive series of postures that produces intense internal heat ad profuse sweat that detoxofies muscles and organs. This yoga is suitable for those who don't get bored easily and have high stamina.

4) Iyengar yoga is named after BKS Iyengar, a famous yogi from India who introduced the style with emphasises on the alignment of asanas using breath control and the use of props. It is suitable for the elderly, people with special needs, and people who enjoyed detailed methods in their practice.

5) Power yoga is an active approach to the traditional Hatha yoga, whereby the poses are performed more quickly and with added core exercises and upper body work. It is suitable as a weight programme.

6) Yin yoga is a meditative practice that allows your body to become comfortable in a pose without doing any work. The postures are more passive, is mainly confined on the floor, and gives a much deeper access to the body. This yoga is elderly practitiobners and those looking for relaxation while performing asanas.

So, which one is your pick?

Photo source: Sakthi School of Yoga