What is Hatha Yoga?

As well as Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga classes, I also teach Hatha Classes. Like in my previous post about Ashtanga, in this post I’ll answer the question – what is Hatha yoga?

Core Concepts

The practice of Hatha Yoga is used to create balance throughout the body, specifically between the 2 main energy channels in our body, “pingala” and “ida”. The word Hatha is broken down into two parts, with “Ha” meaning “pingala” or “sun” and “Tha” meaning “ida” or “moon”. Pingala and ida are two of the main nadis in our body, which are energy channels which our “prana” (life force energy) flow through. Balancing the two through the practice of yoga brings the body into harmony and helps prevent disease and remove impurities. The purpose of Hatha Yoga ultimately is to prepare the body for enlightenment, but many modern day practitioners simply enjoy the obvious physical and emotional heath benefits of this style!

Origins

Made from a mixture of earlier traditions, the earliest textual references to Hatha date back to 1100AD, though its techniques are thought to be thousands of years older. Much like Ashtanga Yoga is a combination of Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga, Hatha combines 6 different aspects. These are:

  • Shatkarmas – Cleansing Techniques
  • Asanas – Physical Poses
  • Bandhas – Muscular Locks
  • Pranayama – Breath Control
  • Mudras – Hand Gestures
  • Meditation

What to expect

Many styles of yoga use all of the above techniques, thus making Hatha Yoga a rather all-encompassing term. But what can you expect if you were to attend a specific Hatha Yoga class? Classes will of course change from teacher to teacher, as there is no set series like in an Ashtanga class. Personally, I like to teach this as a gentle class, spending more time focusing on alignment and body awareness as you perform each asana. You will also find pranayama, which is great for energising or relaxing the body, and I love to discuss the other aspects of yoga too. I enjoy theming each class, choosing poses to aid stress relief, or to boost the mood for example. Sometimes there might be a bit of a flow in there to get the blood circulating round the body, but on the whole this is a more relaxed class to help you unwind, release tension and escape the stresses of daily life!

For more information on where and when I teach, please visit my offerings page

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