Yoga Blog

Choosing Your Classes: What Is Hatha?

While the term ‘yoga’ is internationally recognized as the movement of the body through asanas (postures), there are many different styles that fall under the umbrella term. 

One of the most popular styles is Hatha yoga. 

If you are already a member at Prana Yoga & Wellness or have perused our class schedule before, you’ve likely noticed a few Hatha yoga varieties on the menu. With students of all abilities and experience levels, we’ve created a class for every member and their unique needs!

So what is the difference between each of these classes and how does Hatha differ from other styles of yoga? Follow along to learn about each of our Hatha yoga class variations and discover the best choice for your next practice.

What Is Hatha?

Hatha is an 8-limb yoga practice. If you’ve been to a class at Prana before, it’s likely no surprise to hear that yoga goes far beyond what you do on your mat. In fact, asanas are only one piece of the beautiful and profound Hatha puzzle. 

Hatha breaks down into ‘Ha’, meaning sun, and ‘Tha’ meaning moon. This represents the process of finding the balance between the moon and sun and purifying both the solar (Pinga) and lunar (Ida) channels. 

By practising each of the 8 limbs incorporated in Hatha yoga, the yogi or yogini strives to achieve Samadhi. Samadhi is the state of being free from the illusion of form, time, and space. 

Each of these limbs contributes in the following ways:

  1. Yamas – the 5 social observances
  2. Niyamas – the 5 moral observances
  3. Asana – brings steadiness and comfort to the body and mind
  4. Pranayama – expands our capacity to retain prana (life force energy)
  5. Pratyahara – allows us to withdrawal from sensory input
  6. Dharana – creates a single-pointed focus
  7. Dhyana – teaches us to observe the self without judgement
  8. Samadhi – helps us become free from Maya (the things we think are real but are not)

The reason this physical practice is so powerful is because of the forced posture of the body. Our body naturally takes postures to reflect our emotions, current state, or consciousness. You can see this by evaluating how you sit or stand when you are feeling happy, sad, angry, etc. 

By performing the Hatha asanas regularly, we begin to gain control and elevate our consciousness through the use of the physical body. 

What to Expect in a Hatha Class

There are 6 tools used in Hatha yoga. Most of these tools will be immediately evident as you flow through a class. 

  1. Asanas (postures) – used to gain control over the body
  2. Pranayama (breathing exercises) – used to gain control over the breath
  3. Mudra (hand gestures) – Used to manipulate and stimulate energy
  4. Bandhas – Used to stimulate chakra centres
  5. Kriyas – To purify internal organs
  6. Mantras – Used to gain control over the monkey mind

Each class will begin by bringing attention to your breath. We often refer to this as finding your breath connection, where we begin to notice how the breath moves through our body and manipulate our breathing patterns with pranayama. 

Once we’ve found the breath and come to the present moment, we begin to warm the body for movement. This includes warming the spine and joints for flexibility and weight-bearing. 

When our bodies are warm, we begin to move through classical Hatha yoga asanas to prepare the body for higher potential and build strength. The duration of time each of the poses are held depends on the variation of Hatha, however, you’ll usually stay in each posture for around 10 breaths. 

And finally, you arrive at the rest and relaxation pose we all love so much. Savasana. 

You may notice your savasana is extra juicy and fulfilling after a Hatha yoga class. This is because the asanas are specifically designed to improve your relaxation and consciousness level after the class.

So what is the difference between each of the Hatha classes?

Hatha Flow

This class is a classic Hatha yoga practice where postures are held for longer to build strength. You’ll often see a combination of dynamic flows with the integration of more challenging postures such as inversions or backbends. 

This class is perfect for anyone who is looking to break a sweat, build some strength, and try some fun and challenging poses.

Hatha Slow Flow & Gentle Hatha

We now have 2 Hatha Slow Flow classes and a Gentle Hatha session on schedule with our newest class taking place on Saturday mornings at 8:30 am with Dave. 

Slow Flow is a great introduction to Hatha with more gentle postures. The flow is much the same as a regular Hatha class, however, the decreased pace allows for more description and guidance of each pose. 

You’ll still break a sweat and build lots of strength (especially with the longer holds) so be sure to bring a towel and drink bottle!

Hatha Therapy

This class is specifically designed to assist those with limited mobility or injuries. By utilizing a slower moving class, we are able to work with individual restrictions to increase stability, mobility, balance, and flexibility. 

Hatha Vinyasa

Brand new to our studio, we have the fusion of Hatha and Vinyasa styles in this Hatha Vinyasa class. 

Vinyasa yoga emphasizes the marrying of our breath to movement and typically moves quite quickly from one pose to the next. Each student will often move at their own pace due to the different lengths of breath for each yogi or yogini. 

By combining the powerful breath to movement connection of Vinyasa with the strength and balance of Hatha postures, we are able to experience a beautifully rounded class. 

Find this brand new class on Friday mornings at 9:30 am with our lovely new teacher Fran!

Experience Hatha Yoga Today

Now that you know the power of Hatha yoga and how each of these classes can benefit your practice, it’s time to try it for yourself. With the incredible physical and mental benefits of all Hatha yoga classes, we’re sure you’ll love this style of yoga just as much as we do.

Ready to try something new? Book your Hatha Slow Flow or Hatha Vinyasa class today!

About us

We offer a safe and authentic yoga experience, and our caring teachers will ensure you work at your own ability. With plenty of options for beginners and experienced students alike, we want to empower everyone to discover their individual path to a happy and healthy life.

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