Hatha yoga is usually slower-paced where yoga poses (asana) are held for a few breaths. A Hatha class will often include breathing techniques and meditation as well as asana.
Hatha yoga is a great place to start if you are new to yoga or if you want to deepen your practice because you get the time and space to become familiar with yoga poses. Although Hatha yoga can still be challenging too!
Most contemporary, physical forms of yoga are derived from Hatha yoga. When you do Iyengar, this is Hatha yoga; when you do Ashtanga, as different as this may seem, it’s Hatha too.
In Sanskrit, “Ha” represents sun and “tha” represents moon. This alludes to the opposites in our lives, such as yin and yang, light and darkness, hard and soft, vigorous and gentle. Hatha yoga is about finding balance. Through working with the physical body, releasing tensions and traumas stored in the body, you create space in yourself and, through that space and balance, the opportunity for spiritual growth.
Benefits of a regular Hatha yoga practice
- Makes the body stronger and more flexible.
- Release tension and trauma stored in the body.
- Calms the mind.
- Creates space in body and mind and in that space you find ‘balance’ and the opportunity for spiritual growth.
Read more about the history and evolution of Hatha in What is Hatha Yoga?