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Yoga is typically represented by people bending and twisting their bodies from one pretzel-like shape into another. It is fluid and graceful. What we don’t expect is someone bouncing up and down on the balls of their feet, tapping their abdomen, and jiggling their heads like a bobble head toy that our parents or grandparents used to place in their cars. Walk by a Dahn yoga center however, and that is exactly what you may see!
This practice is called yoga but in reality it is a hybrid of yoga, tai chi, meditation, martial arts and other exercises that incorporate both the body and mind. In fact, it is more aptly named “Body and Brain” for it’s focus on both of these areas. The popularity in this style of exercise has been fast growing and it is actually the most popular type of yoga practiced in the United States today.
This is definitely an alternative approach in holistic health. Founder Ilchi Lee began this practice in 1985. His first customer to the Dahn Yoga approach was a stroke victim whose vitality Lee helped regain with this exercises. Lee is an author and founder of the body and mind training approaches from South Korea. His focus is primarily on chi energy and brain wave vibrations. According to Wikipedia and the book Dahn Yoga Basics, there are three basic characteristics unique to Dahn Yoga: mastery and use of energy, enhancing the body and brain connection, and self managed holistic health care.
Energy centers in the body are called chi centers. Chi, or qi, stems from ancient Chinese explanations for life force. It is what sustains all living things. The chi centers are where energy gathers, and flows from, and to, the rest of the body. In Dahn practices, this incorporation of energy centers is believed to maximize the vitality and healing effect of the remainder of the exercises.
A Dahn yoga session is split into multiple parts that segway from one to the next. A warm up is recommended for about 15 minutes before the onset of each lesson. This is when you will see people standing on a mat, bouncing by bending only slightly at the knees and tapping their abdomen. This is said to harvest energy that the body will use later for focusing. After warming up, flexibility and strengthening begins with stretching.
Unlike typical India-style yoga, stretches are deepened and relaxed repeatedly in almost a bouncing or elastic manner. It looks like the stretches you would envision a runner doing before a race; hamstring, calves and quads, arms, shoulders. It also helps promote balance in the individual and get the blood circulating throughout the body.
Next is brain wave vibrations. This is a movement style meditation that is done while the individual stands and “bounces” on the balls of their feet, or shakes their entire body. The entire time the individual is also moving their head from right to left over and over again. It is assumed that the brain is naturally healing and this exercise activates the energy center in the crown.
Energy breathing postures are slow positions that synchronize with inhalations and exhalations. These exercises work like energy body guards, allowing pure energy to enter the body and kicking out stagnant energy that may be harmful. It frees up the energy centers throughout the body so they can accept the pure energy that is said to be healthful and appease the spirit in addition to the body and mind.
Many of the slow movements that flow from one to the next is the influence of tai chi. Originally designed as a style of self defense, it is now more logically called movement meditation. Each position is done in full concentration and incorporates deep breathing.
This style of meditation and exercise has received quite a bit of controversy over the years. Some people and publications, including Rolling Stone Magazine, claim that this is a “mind control cult”. There are also negative opinions on the cost of Dahn programs and the pressure that individuals feel from instructors to pay for workshop fees.
Money-and-success-centered Forbes magazine printed accuations of this nature in their article “Dahn Yoga: Body, Brain and Wallet. In this article it reported on students who felt pressured to spent tens of thousands of dollars, were encouraged to go into debt for these workshops, and took part in hazing and cult style activity.
The practice also received a lawsuit after the death of a student while on a hiking expedition during their Dahn Master course. The report showed that the student died from dehydration.
The fact that it is called “yoga” is strange to me since it is so different from traditional yoga practices. It is more of an Asian fusion exercise incorporating nonviolent martial arts, including tai chi, with with a few yoga style asanas and a focus on Chinese culture qi. The allegations against the practice further strengthens my hesitation to recommend it. Though yoga is considered a slightly more expensive type of workout than many other common practices, spending thousands of dollars on a workshop is not something that should be considered lightly, if at all.
Also, while I believe in the positive powers of yoga in easing anxiety and depression, in improving health and increasing energy, I am hesitant to believe that it can “heal” sickness. The allegations and death suit filed against the Dahn corporation also make me question the healthy lifestyle associated with this practice. All in all this is an alternative approach to the body, mind and spirit phenomenon that is sweeping the world, though there is reason to doubt it’s validity. I do recommend that anyone interested in this activity should do their research in advance.
Yoga for weight loss is a very special strategy towards losing weight. Improving physical, mental well-being; increasing flexibility, strength; reducing strength and toning the muscles are just some of the many yoga benefits. However, the question remains, can yoga training techniques even help you lose weight.
Is Yoga Weight Loss Possible?
Practicing any type of yoga is ideal for fitness because it builds strength, but according to studies, yoga alone cannot raise the heart rate enough to effectively lead to weight loss. Typically, exercises that help with weight loss by burning calories usually raise the heart rate. It is not possible to get the cardiovascular workout needed to lose weight from yoga alone. However, yoga weight loss is possible by performing more vigorous styles of yoga that provide a better workout.
The Most Vigorous Types of Yoga for Weight Loss
The flow or vinyasa category of yoga includes most athletic styles of yoga exercises. Usually, these styles begin with a series of fast-paced poses known as sun salutations. These are followed by a flowing series of standing poses so you will stay moving. Once the warm up in over, deeper backbends and stretches are introduced. Many popular styles of yoga are included in vinyasa, which will leave you sweat-drenched, such as:
Ashtanga yoga is one of the most vigorous styles of yoga training techniques practiced today and those who practice this style of yoga are one of the most dedicated yogis. Usually, beginners are recommended to sign up for a series of Ashtanga classes to help motivate them. Since the same series of poses are followed in Ashtanga every time, so the sequence can also be practiced at home after learning it. Ashtanga can also be performed by joining a Mysore-style group in which students go at their own pace but a teacher is present as well.
Vinyasa yoga will definitely leave you sweat-drenched because it is performed in a hot room. It must be kept in mind that hot yoga and Bikram yoga are not the same. Bikram is a style of yoga that was pioneered by Bikram Choudhury. Bikram yoga was developed from hot yoga and includes a set series of poses. Today, these are various other styles of hot yoga (for instance, Moksha) in which a hot room is used.
Power yoga is utterly popular at health clubs and gyms, although it is also widely taught at dedicated yoga studios too. In power yoga, the intensity and heat of Ashtanga is built up, while the fixed series of poses is dispensed.
Yoga Workouts at Home
If you want to successfully lose weight with yoga, then it is important that you perform the yoga exercises regularly. Even if you cannot make it to a class, you should continue exercising by practicing yoga training techniques at home. Do a little bit of yoga every day if you want to maximize its weight loss benefits. Yoga for weight loss is possible, but it will only be possible if you perform the more vigorous styles regularly.