Most forms of yoga in the West can be classified as Hatha Yoga. Hatha simply refers to the practice of physical yoga postures, meaning your Ashtanga, vinyasa, Iyengar and Power Yoga classes are all Hatha Yoga. The word “hatha” can be translated two ways: as “willful” or “forceful,” or the yoga of activity, and as “sun” (ha) and “moon” (tha), the yoga of balance. Hatha practices are designed to align and calm your body, mind, and spirit in preparation for meditation.
Hatha yoga is the overarching umbrella of yoga that encompasses most of the traditional styles, including Vinyasa and Ashtanga. Directly translated to “willful” or “forceful” in Sanskrit, Hatha yoga is the fundamental system of yoga that focuses on the pairing of poses or “asanas” with breathing techniques or “pranayama.”
Hatha yoga uses the practice of the poses to rinse out the body and build the physical strength and endurance required to spend long periods of time in meditation. Once the Hatha yoga practice is complete, the ideal mind-body harmony has been created to facilitate deep, relaxing meditation.
In today’s yoga community, the term “Hatha Yoga” is often used to distinguish classes that pair pranayama and traditional yoga poses. However, Hatha Yoga classes veer away from the rigorous breath-to-movement flows more commonly found in Vinyasa and Ashtanga yoga, and focus on flowing the breath in static postures to be with them longer.
Hatha yogis can expect an accommodating practice full of static postures, mindful breathwork and a manageable pace. This dynamic allows for a greater focus on alignment and mindful breathing, making the practice accessible to yogis of all levels, especially beginners. Matthew Spangler teaches in-person Hatha Yoga in Los Angeles, CA. Virtual Sessions available Worldwide. Namastè