View Full Version : Yoga types, benefits/drawbacks/feedback

Garrett Smith
04-14-2009, 01:49 PM
Jon Brody asked me about yoga in my workout journal, I thought I'd start a thread here for anyone to feel free to add to.

I guess I've been doing various forms of yoga for something like 12 years now. The major ones I've tried include (in some semblance of an order): Ashtanga, Bikram, Iyengar, Hatha, Anusara, and finally YRG (www.yrgworkoutllc.com) most recently.

I have come to my own realization that much of the westernization of yoga has made it seem like it is all about "relaxing"...I don't believe this is the way yoga was developed or intended originally. I've found my best results from yoga through focusing on all of the alignment cues--which means a decent amount of created muscle tension while lengthening the muscle concurrently--and gaining "relaxation" through concentrating on so many form cues (thus not focusing on the daily life/emotional/stress BS) and through the final relaxation at the end of class.

I used to go to yoga classes at local studios, I could get classes as low as $6 and $7 a class for what I considered really good yoga (75min. and/or 90min. classes). Due to my own considerations, I decided I wanted to save money and practice at home. I know myself well enough that following a book won't work for me...I need someone verbally telling me what to do (I'm that way with any stretching), so being that I have lots of yoga experience, I prefer audio CDs to DVDs so I don't have to look at anything. Anyway, moving on.

I really like the YRG DVDs. The choice of a 20min., 45min., or 60min. workout is incredible for me, especially with my new baby crunching my time a lot more. Think of YRG as basic yoga poses with a more slow & steady calisthenic component to it (ie. slow pushups with pauses, slow rising out of a "3rd world squat" through an air squat to standing). There is no yoga woo-woo here.

Anusara--very alignment-oriented, lots of woo-woo "heart talk" in a class. I've personally found the Anusara and "Anusara-inspired" instructors in my area exuding a sense of arrogance and elitism, but that could also be from the raw vegan diet most of them do. I knew many of them when they were attending or working for the same studio when it was mainly Ashtanga, so I do have some frame of reference on that observation. I wish it wasn't so, as I really like the studio itself and I like a lot of what Anusara has to offer in the yoga portions.

Bikram--I like the series. I don't care for Bikram himself. I don't think the heat is some magical property, although I do think spending time every day in a heated & humid room without paying a lot of attention to mineral intake (be it food or supplemental) is a sure way to electrolyte imbalances/deficiencies. I also have found it very hard to fit in a 1.5 hour yoga class, so this has fallen by the wayside for me.

I'll get to more stuff later. Anyone else, please feel free to add.

Liam Dougherty Springer
04-14-2009, 02:45 PM
I have gone through phases and am currently in a twice a week type phase. I don't know all the names but I take many different types at the gym I work at. We are lucky to have superb yoga instructors and I do have quite a bit of experience it is rare for a globo gym but it is a large draw for our clientele. Any how some of the benefits I have been enjoying are more solid bottom positions in squats and pulls from the floor. As well as allowing my shoulder connective tissue to begin to open up. This being said I am in no way going for a yoga award in the depth of my poses I have no interest in becoming more than functionally flexible and once I have reached this depth in a pose I hold it and increase my strength in these positions.

Although I do use yoga to enhance my lifting and gymnastic work I still receive the benefit of the meditative mental absorption in the practice as well as the relaxation of the final pose AKA lying perfectly still on your back with your eyes closed. I find it a very restorative physical activity and I need more of those in my life.

P.S. Feel free to make fun of me it is nothing compared to some of the looks I get by the Yogi's in class. LOL

Garrett Smith
04-14-2009, 04:32 PM
1 Bikram class in a studio - $10-15 per class

Bikram CD, new - $20
Bikram CD, used off Craigslist (how I got it) - $10, with unlimited uses

Since they try to have Bikram instructors follow a preset speech anyway, unless someone wants the heat, I can't see spending the extra money (unless you like to do your yoga in front of mirrors, I personally don't).

Jon Brody
04-14-2009, 06:57 PM
Cool stuff -- thx for the thread start!

..."instructors in my area exuding a sense of arrogance and elitism, but that could also be from the raw vegan diet most of them do." LOL!

I think I'm going to invest in a YRG and Bikram CD....my globo has yoga if I'm not mistaken, so I'm going to scope that out sometime soon and report back.

I basically have hyperhydrosis and the year-round sweat glands of a fat kid in a sauna the night of Halloween , and the mention of electrolyte imbalances vis a vis an actual Bikram class....:eek:

YRG seems really interesting; could be great to use during de-loading/back-off/rest weeks....otherwise, I'm searching for an optimal blend of "restorative physical activity" like Liam mentioned.....just something new that's physical, won't derail primary training plans, and a benefit of increased flexibility-strength would be sweet.

Grissim Connery
04-14-2009, 08:21 PM
i haven't been doing yoga dilligently enough recently. i messed myself up falling down some stairs a month or 2 ago (i put up a post about in in the fighting forum). i kept training in that state and eventually hurt one shoulder. when i thought i could come back to training, i overused my other shoulder and now it is messed up. they are both hurting in different places.

anyways i'm backing off of training for a bit to let stuff heal and in the meantime i've been doing a lot more yoga. after watching kelly starett (sp?) talk about PNF in the CFJ, i have been really focusing on building a lot of tension in the bottom of many poses. the result is that i'm really finding a lot of tension that i had been ignoring for a while. I think i agree with garrett's statement that too much yoga these days focuss on relaxing. after trying more PNF in my poses as opposed to constant relaxation, i'm opening up a lot of formerly tense areas.

my shoulders are already starting to feel better, although that could just be because i'm doing a NSAID bomb for 2 weeks, and i haven't taken any NSAIDS for about a year.

i find that anytime i could go to a yoga class, i could probably be training BJJ. thus i always choose BJJ because that's my goal hah. yoga DVD's fit much better into those holes where no BJJ class meets up.

there's a BJJ tourney in columbus this saturday. i hope nobody shoulder locks me...

Garrett Smith
04-14-2009, 09:10 PM
Don't avoid YRG because you think it is too much work. It isn't. The length of the workouts is what makes it so great.

Bikram, IMO, since it is designed to be a stand-alone workout for single-minded yoga maniacs, is actually way too much of an energy drain to work into a mixed-modality training system like many here do. The other problem I found with it is that one session of Bikram wasn't enough, two was good, but two also left me feeling fatigued for my other workouts.

I've become more and more fond of 60min. or less yoga sessions.

Iyengar is good for noobs to yoga, they are totally form-obsessed, great to learn the basics of alignment. I couldn't imagine only doing that style, though...I went to a lady who I later heard was a bit OCD form-wise...some classes we would only get through about 5 poses!

Greg Davis
04-15-2009, 03:25 AM
Every few weeks I go with my girlfriend to a local yoga class dubbed "Flow" which has a heavy relaxation component along with all the poses. I've tried a few different types of classes and have to say the value in actually going to a class is finding an instructor with a "voice" that appeals to you. At this class she is an older Indian woman with a super soothing voice, its just great to relax and listen to her verbal cues.

Ken Rich
04-15-2009, 09:25 AM
My current yoga teacher is an Anusara based instructor. He is very light on the drippy woo-woo stuff, thankfully. I like Anusara for its focus on alignment.

I'm down to one 90 minute class per week from two. Two classes per week impinged too much on my strength/metcon work. I do a fair bit of mobility/Feldenkrais work daily, so one long yoga class per week serves me well.

I've been lucky enough to do several seminars with top Iyengar teachers as well. The deep focus on alignment was very interesting and challenging.


Garrett Smith
04-15-2009, 09:31 AM
I got a lot out of a handstand workshop put on at my local Anusara studio, adding all of the yoga-ish alignment stuff to a handstand really put it in a different perspective than the typically simplified gymnastic handstand instructions.

Anusara's alignment philosophy and approaches are great--I took a 3-session "Anusara 101" class that really went deeper into the didactic stuff...that was fun.

Chris Rice
05-03-2009, 07:36 AM
I have David Swenson's Astanga Yoga Short Forms DVD and enjoy the 30 minute routine the most. Can anyone offer a comparison of Bikram and Astanga in general terms - especially if done from a DVD and not a class setting?

Garrett Smith
05-03-2009, 08:01 AM
Biggest difference between the two is that there is no "flow" in Bikram. None. Half is the standing series, half is the floor series, all of the Bikram poses take short standing or lying "rests" between asanas.

Bikram's is 90 minutes. There is no short version.

As far as I know, there is no DVD of Bikram's series, only audio CDs and the book.

I would highly suggest attending a class or two of Bikram's before purchasing anything, people either love or hate it.

Frank Needham
05-03-2009, 08:53 AM
Just noticed this thread. Due to a nasty roll-over accident of my own making back in 2000 I found myself on the edge of immobility due to the pain from the whiplash I got. This caused me to seek out anything that I could imagine to deal with it and eventually I decided to try yoga. Within six weeks I was feeling much, much different. Not without pain but at least I could function. This is site of the woman who gives the classes I attended: http://yogawithmilea.com/ She calls the classes power yoga and I've really no idea what style that corresponds to. All I can say is that it worked great for me and I'd recommend doing what I did to anyone who found themselves in the same circumstances. If I recall the cost was like $15.00 for two classes and I did lots and lots of them. The jerk Dr that I was sent to for evaluation wanted to operate within 5-10 minutes of being in his office! I think I made the better choice.

Neill Smith
05-03-2009, 09:22 AM
This is a great thread.

Iím still in search of the perfect yoga practice. Iíve done mostly Ashtanga and more recently Power Yoga (which is based on Ashtanga). Although now I only average one or two sessions per week, I'm a big fan. If I had to enumerate the potential benefits:

Meditation (not relaxation--they're different)
Active recovery
Kinesthetic awareness.

There are also pitfalls. It seems to be pretty easy to become a yoga instructor, and yoga with a bad instructor is a good way to get hurt.

Ashtanga and Power position themselves as your primary workout, which isn't a fit for me. Also, there's not a ton of variety. For the kinesthetic awareness component, having variety in postures would be nice.

Yael Grauer
05-09-2009, 11:08 PM
I bet Ashtanga is one of the less bad ones. Or Iyengar.

Anybody done Dance of Shiva?

Nicholas Wall
12-10-2009, 01:28 PM
I try to stretch regularly both after my AM sessions and in the evenings to unwind. I plan looking into purchasing a yoga DVD. My question though, how many of you practice olympic lifting? I am interested in the flexibility to do the lifts and not sure if more is better or worse. I think I am lacking some flexibility in that I cannot sit back in the squat very well. Appreciate any and all help. First post also! Thanks.

Garrett Smith
12-10-2009, 03:24 PM
There is specific flexibility that you should focus on for the OLs that will work faster than yoga.

If you want yoga for some relaxation, go for it. If you have focused goals you want from your flexibility regimen, go after those.

Greg Everett wrote some great articles on flexibility in the earlier PMenu issue, you might want to look them up.

I have plenty of flexibility for the OLs, I'm hoping to get in one yoga class a week now, mainly for the relaxation (and I can always use more hamstring stretching!).

Nicholas Wall
12-10-2009, 05:09 PM
Thanks Garrett. I was banking on getting a response from you. From going through all the forum topics you seem to be the know all! I do have that issue of the PM and I will go back and take a look at it again. I don't remember but I will find it. Do you stretch following your lifts or do you consider your warm ups (DROM, etc.) plus the movements of the lifts them selves enough stretching? Thanks. I work out in my garage and don't have any other athletes to get feedback from. Just trying to see what others do.

Garrett Smith
12-10-2009, 06:20 PM
I've found I do best with scheduled stretching in between my heavy sets of 5/3/1, doing lower body stretches on upper body days, and vice versa. I've also started adding a complete day (easy day) of some stretching muscles while training the opposite muscle groups (reciprocal inhibition kind of idea).

I don't think doing the OLs or warm-ups are enough stretching in and of themselves...or else I wouldn't be stretching separately!

Lawrence "Bo" Boland III
01-21-2010, 07:57 AM
This is a great thread. One of my goals for this year is to improve flexibility. I'm a freakin' 2x4 plank when it comes to being limber. I can't touch my toes, I have a hard time reaching my upper back, and I'm positive that it effects my performance.

I'm starting up a 1x week yoga class with my wife, and have been doing these thoracic mobility drills to help out my posture and front rack position (I can't properly do it, and indications lead to lack of thoracic mobility)


Kyle Collins
08-31-2010, 09:44 AM
Most of the Yoga I have done/found involves lots of movement into different poses. It seems to me like it would be better to hold certain poses and focus on getting everything lined up right. The DVDs and classes I have used moved into the next pose too quickly to even have time to explain how to be in the pose properly, let alone make sure you are there. Am I overly worried about doing the positions properly?

Garrett Smith
08-31-2010, 12:51 PM
Most of the Yoga I have done/found involves lots of movement into different poses. It seems to me like it would be better to hold certain poses and focus on getting everything lined up right. The DVDs and classes I have used moved into the next pose too quickly to even have time to explain how to be in the pose properly, let alone make sure you are there. Am I overly worried about doing the positions properly?
Kyle, you are very correct in your concern.

For styles that really emphasize alignment, look to Anusara or Iyengar, IMO.

For those who don't want to do "yoga" but need to add some stretching, try Kelly Starrett's MobilityWOD (http://mobilitywod.blogspot.com/).

Kyle Collins
09-06-2010, 06:52 AM
Thanks for the Advice. Ended up getting this one:


If it is good I'm gonna get her one for shoulders.