What is the difference between hatha and other types of yoga?

Hatha yoga is a generic term that refers to any type of yoga that teaches physical poses. Almost all of the types of yoga classes taught in the West are Hatha yoga. When a class is promoted as Hatha, it generally means that you'll receive a gentle introduction to the most basic yoga poses. You probably won't sweat an iota in a Hatha yoga class, but you should end up leaving class feeling longer, looser and more relaxed.

The Sanskrit term hatha is a general term for all the physical poses of yoga. In the West, hatha yoga simply refers to all other styles of yoga (Ashtanga, Iyengar, etc.) However, there are other branches of yoga, such as kriya, raja and karma yoga, that are separate from physics-based yoga practice. Physical-based yoga is the most popular and has numerous styles. Both Vinyasa and Hatha yoga can help you relax and improve your strength and flexibility.

The origins of these practices are different, and the positions and techniques are different. Hatha yoga originated in 15th century India and was originally used to purify the mind before starting a meditation practice. Vinyasa yoga has a faster pace and focuses on how well the asanas flow together. Hatha yoga students will often find that they can easily control their breathing during practice sessions.

The table below illustrates the key differences between Hatha yoga as a type of physical yoga and vinyasa. Hatha yoga was created to treat the body like a temple, which is why they offer “body-centered yoga”. Ujjayi pranayama is the main breath of vinyasa, while hatha yoga will prioritize different breathing methods depending on the objectives of the class. But, and this is where the problem arises, in modern yoga, we tend to treat hatha yoga as if it were an independent practice.

According to Mark Singleton, it focuses on “health, fitness and well-being and ignores “the subtle system of hatha yoga. There is more repetition of specific sequences within a vinyasa class, while there is more repetition of poses in a hatha yoga class. Hatha yoga can be considered a general term to describe many of the most common forms of yoga taught in the West today. Starting with hatha yoga can help you learn the basics and increase your flexibility before starting a more rigorous practice.

Of the many different types of yoga practiced around the world, two variations, Hatha and Vinyasa yoga, are among the most popular. One way to summarize the differences is to imagine Vinyasa yoga as a cardiovascular exercise and Hatha yoga as stretching and flexibility training.

Alyssa Concannon
Alyssa Concannon

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