One of my favorite descriptions of Hatha is “That 70’s Yoga”—basically, Hatha is what we in the western hemisphere picture when we imagine yoga and it’s generally the base for any type that teaches physical asanas (poses) and breath work.
While Hatha is often seen as a gentler style due to a slower, manageable pace, one of its translations from Sanskrit is “force”, which can embody the idea that one can develop strength from a regular, consistent practice. Another definition is a breakdown of“ha”, meaning sun and “tha”, meaning moon.
A few key notes about this popularform of yoga:
- Poses are held for a long period of time.Your Hatha session may include some Vinyasa elements (flowing from one movement right into another with the breath), but for the most part, you will hold a position and breathe, while makingadjustments as directed by your instructor.
- Alignment is a major focus. Rather than sacrificing proper alignment to get deeper into a pose, students are encouraged to listen to their individual bodies and not push too hard past your comfort level. Like with Iyengar’s method, props are often used to assist you.
- Pranayama or breath work is incorporated. In a Hatha class, you may spend a good amount of time in a comfortable, seated position, working on various breathing techniques independent of movement.
- It is accessible to all.While some forms have historically been practiced only by certain groups or sects, Hatha is open to all genders, religions, ages, and classes. From chair yoga classes at your local senior center to advanced-level workshops, the right Hatha class is out there for you.