Ashtanga yoga is attributed to Sri K. Pattabhii Jois. Born in 1915, Jois was a student of the great yogi, Krishnamacharya. Krishnamacharya studied a rare text, the Yoga Korunta, which emphasized asanas grouped into categories and contained original teachings on vinyasa, drishti, bandhas, mudras, and philosphy. While this text has been lost to the ravages of time, it is considered the source of the ashtanga yoga as taught to and by Pattabhi Jois. In his treatise, Yoga Mala, Jois distills his understanding of yoga. While it includes gems of wisdom on all eight limbs of yoga, most of the book is comprised of the earliest extensive photographic collection of the asanas along with detailed instructions for each posture. While "official" ashtanga yoga classes teach the same sequence every time, Regina offers her own creative and ever evolving version, often focusing on one of the asana groups and exploring a deeper experience of twists, forward folds, back bends or side stretches.
B.K.S. Iyengar, also a student of Krishnamacharya, developed a system of yoga that was similar to that of his fellow student, Jois. They both offered all eight limbs but started with and emphasized one limb: asana. Unlike Jois, Iyengar did not include vinyasa, bandhas, drishti or mudras in his general teachings. He did give very detailed directions for how to practice each asana. The greatest gift of Iyengar, in my view, was his focus on making postures accessible to beginners and those with physcial limitations and disabilities. In addition to teaching postures in their easiest forms, he also introduced supports in the form of props which include blocks, bolsters, chairs, blankets, and chairs. While not a certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher, Regina has studied with many who are and offers these three principles of Iyengar Yoga in all of her classes: 1) start with the most accessible version of the pose before giving more challenging options; 2) teach several alignment cues with each posture; and 3) option to use props at any time.
Kripalu Yoga was developed at an ashram in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts by a group of seekers who originally gathered around Swami Kripalu and his disciple and successor, Amrit Desai. Initially focusing equally on eight limbs of yoga, this community attempted to literally live yoga in every action, interaction, and non-action of every moment. After a heartbreaking disillusionment when Desai betrayed the community by having multiple sexual relations with mostly younger females, (while preaching sexual abstinence,) the ashram reconfigured itself as a healing retreat center. Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health offers classes in asana, meditation, and personal development. They have been at the forefront of the yoga and psychology movement and also one of the first to offer ayurveda and train ayurvedic practitioners. (See blog on Ayurveda, sister science to yoga.) Kripalu is also one of the most prolific trainers of yoga teachers in the northeast United States. Due to their disillusionment experience, Kripalu Yoga's signature approach includes finding the guru within, radical self-acceptance and a sophisticated understanding of the relationship between yogic practices and psychological development. Regina weaves yoga techniques that decrease anxiety and depression, increase self-esteem and self-trust, and heal trauma into all of her classes.
This type of practice is accessible to beginners and those with limited strength and flexibility but even advanced practitioners enjoy a slower, easier practice at times. Gentle yoga can be flowing or it can emphasize staying in more relaxing poses for longer periods. Its purpose is to reduce stress and promote a sense of well being. Often the focus is less on asana and more on pranayama and the four meditative limbs of classical yoga: pratayahara, dhyana, dharana, and samadhi. Regina uses props and applies both her Kripalu training and the influence of Iyengar to Gentle Yoga.
Restorative yoga uses props and allows students to rest in poses for anywhere from five to twenty minutes. This is a delicious practice that is loved by old and young, experienced and beginner alike. Regina usually offers at least one restorative pose in every class and workshops which are almost exclusively restorative occur every Spring and Fall.