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Understanding the methods of yoga more clearly

When one starts to take an interest in yoga, one is surprised and sometimes overwhelmed by the number of different schools. What does this mean? At what level can I take part in classes?

In certain yoga classes, there is a moment of respite between each posture or between each group of postures. In others, one assembles oneself the chronology of postures, which varies according to different criteria.

We will help you see more clearly.

The different variations all stem from Haṭha Yoga, “Ha” means Sun, “Tha” Moon, “Yoga” means Union. “The search for balance in the union of opposing forces”. This may be one of the most beautiful definitions of our practice.

In the practice of Ashtanga yoga or Yoga Korunta (its original name), the order of postures in each series is immutable. The transitions between each position are interlinked rhythmically and dynamically.

The series of Ashtanga Yoga are presented in an order of increasing difficulty. Before passing on to the next series, it is essential to have mastered the preceding one. Generally, this type of Yoga appeals to those with an open spirit looking for an intense physical and spiritual activity and not afraid of sweating.

Its principal characteristics are :

  • Control of the pelvic floor (Mūlābandha)
  • Deep breathing (Ujjãyi)
  • Concentration of gaze (Drishti dṛṣṭi)
  • Dynamic movements of transition between the postures (Vinyasa)

Composed of six series, the first is called therapeutic yoga.

You will be encouraged to breathe deeply, to concentrate, and the teacher will correct you.

Following, the various methods of Haṭha Yoga that are best known:

Kripalu Yoga teams the practice of Yoga with consciousness and acceptance of oneself. It is a meditative Yoga, the student executes the postures and movements intuitively according to his needs.

Sivānanda Yoga is based on the five following principles: suitable exercises (āsana);  correct breathing (āsana);  deep relaxation (savāsana); healthy eating (vegetarian) ; positive thought and meditation (vedanta & dhyāna). Very well known thanks to André Van Lysebeth, the series of 12 principal postures unfolds in the opposite sense to the method of Ashtanga Yoga.

Satyananda Yoga or Bihar Yoga takes up several methods: Haṭha, Raja, Karma, Jnāna, Mantra and Bhakti Yoga, as well as other branches of Yoga, very much geared to the aspects of mental Yoga.

Bikram Yoga encompasses a series of 26 postures which are repeated twice in a room heated to 40° Celsius. The heat promotes suppleness, the elimination of toxins and weight loss.

Energy Yoga, of Tibetan origin, insists on the importance of a balance of the energies influencing our physical body. The respiratory work is the key that promotes the training of attention and allows the mind so often distracted and overburdened to relax.

Haṭha Yoga according Eva Ruchpaul is a yoga that purports to be secular and stresses an attitude of interior work rather than one of physical effort. The lesson is based on a rhythm of three: a posture, a period of rest, a breath, a posture… Postures and breath are intimately linked.

Kundalini Yoga is based on the idea that each of us have capital within ourselves “Health, Happiness, Faith” which can grow thanks to the practice encompassing postures, exercises in respiratory techniques, chanting and meditation.

Anusara Yoga is based on the idea that everything is supreme consciousness. Everybody is divine in all his parts, body, thoughts and spirit. It considers the postures of Yoga, practiced in accordance with the universal principles of alignment an expression of the divine.

Viniyoga, developed by the son of Sri Krishnamacharya, Desikachar – “The more we progress in life, the more we transform ourselves, physically, emotionally and intellectually” – is a method meant to integrate these changes in a way adapted to each individual.

Sri BKS Iyengar

Sri BKS Iyengar

Yoga Iyengar is a practice in which one uses numerous props to better accomplish certain postures which allows practitioners to circumvent problems of flexibility. This technique emphasizes alignment and precision of postures.

Power Yoga, developed in the United States, takes up the principal foundations of Ashtanga Yoga but does not follow a predetermined order of postures and series. It is a physical and dynamic training in very aerobic style.

Jivamukti Yoga is a system that is at the same time overtly meditative and very physical like Ashtanga Yoga. During classes, participants practice series of postures punctuated by chants (in Sanskrit), meditations, lectures, discussions, music.

Vinyasa Flow Yoga is a more traditional style of Yoga that respects the original principles of Yoga. Like in Ashtanga Yoga, the pupil adapts little by little to the method, which stays immutable.




At the Ashtanga Yoga Institute of Brussels, we practice Yoga as expressed by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois “Practice, practice, practice, every day…“

The sequence of rhythmic postures: the sun salutation

The Sun Salutation or Sūryanamaskāra is a dynamic sequence of postures; it is a ritual in honor of the rising sun. This prepares the postural work that gives warmth to the body, the heart and soul.

Sunrise at Mahabalipuram

Sunrise at Mahabalipuram

Originally, the Sun Salutation is a ritual, a morning prayer, in honor of the rising sun.

“Surya” (sun) and “Namaskara” (salutation), and “prostration” are Sanskrit terms. This dynamic sequence of postures is native to Iran; it arrived in India with the Parsi, who consider the Sun Salutation as a religious duty.

The sun salutation is used in the Ashtanga Yoga

The notorious Mysore salutations, called “A” & “B” have been transmitted by Sri Krishnamacharya & Sri Pattabhi Jois. These greetings serve as a transition between postures and as a postural preparation.

  • Warm-up (muscles)
  • Release of large articulations
  • Limbering up of the spine
  • Exercises done with the synchronization of the breath (Viniyasa)

“ if the government itself understood its usefulness, and made the practice of yogāsana, the Sūryanamaskāra, and their traditions compulsory for all students in all educational institutions, boys and girls, it would help to render their lives pure, it would be render a great service to the world ”.
Sri K. Pattabhi Jois

 Sūrya Namaskāra A :

Tadāsana, Uttanāsana A, Uttanāsana B, Chaturanga Dandāsana, Ûrdhva Mukha Svanāsana, Chaturanga Dandāsana, Adhomukha Svanāsana, Uttanāsana B, Uttanāsana A, Tadāsana, Samasthitiḥ.

Salutation au soleil A

Sūrya Namaskāra B :

Tadāsana, Utkatâsana, Uttanāsana A, Uttanāsana B, Chaturanga Dandāsana, Ûrdhva Mukha Svanâsana, Chaturanga Dandāsana, Adhomukha Svanâsana, Vīrabhadrāsana A, Chaturanga Dandāsana, Ûrdhva Mukha Svanāsana, Chaturanga Dandāsana, Adhomukha Svanâsana, Vīrabhadrāsana A, Chaturanga Dandāsana, Ûrdhva Mukha Svanāsana, Chaturanga Dandāsana, Adhomukha Svanâsana, Uttanāsana B, Uttanāsana A, Utkatâsana, Samasthitiḥ.

There is therefore always a movement during which we inhale followed by one during which we exhale.

Salutation au soleil B

Benefits of practicing Sūryanamaskāra (The Sun Salutation)

Regular rhythmic practice (every day) will gradually provide you with perfect health:

  • It softens and strengthens the muscles of the body
  • It activates intestinal regulation by increasing digestive fire
  • It purifies and develops the lungs and heart

Sūryanamaskāra will help you develop willpower, stamina, mental strength; all of them are qualities that are essential to achieve the goal of Yoga. It is a meditation in action.

All yoga practitioners know the Sun Salutation

Power Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Vinyasa Flow and other Yoga methods use the Salutation.

This is “the” Yoga technique that uses the cardiovascular system. It provides heat and considerable energy. André Van Lysebeth quickly taught the sun salutation to increase heartbeat and heat.

Sūryanamaskā, André Van Lysebeth

Sūryanamaskā, André Van Lysebeth


Other forms of salutations according to traditions

There are Buddhist or Muslim salutations, the Tibetan prostrations (“The Five Tibetans”). In India there is the Raja Aundh salutation, originating from Sivananda, which is well known in Europe thanks to André Van Lysebeth.

Finally, less known, is the Moon Salutation used in the Tantric tradition (Chandra Namaskara)