What Does a Hatha Yoga Practice Look Like?05/28/2021 2021-08-25 14:19
What Does a Hatha Yoga Practice Look Like?
You might have heard of Hatha yoga, but what does it mean and what does it entail to practice it?
What is Hatha Yoga?
Hatha Yoga is one of the oldest styles of yoga that we know today. It is about 4500 years old, can you imagine that? Therefore, it has a longer tradition than other, more modern styles of yoga, like vinyasa, which partly lead to it looking very different today. The main focus of Hatha Yoga is the alignment of body, mind, and soul.
If we look at the physical aspect of most yoga classes, the poses are being held for a longer period of time than in other classes, like in vinyasa. Therefore it can be a more steady and slower practice – but it can still be fiery. While vinyasa with its flowy aspects can be considered a bit more “cardio”, Hatha would be more on the “strength training” spectrum – to break it down. But even that can vary from teacher to teacher.
There are a lot of traditional Hatha Yoga schools, such as Sivananda Yoga, which is actually where I took my first yoga class. In this particular yoga style, they usually start with a few sun salutations and then go through a specific series of asanas (like shoulder stand, plow, shoulder bridge, plank, and so on) and end with savasana, mediation, and perhaps a breathing exercise. So in a way it is quite similar to Ashtanga Yoga with having a specific series of poses – in a way, all yoga styles are connected because they are all branches of the same stem.
Other Hatha Yoga classes could be very calm and focussing more on the breath and marrying it with gentle movement. I can imagine that this diversity is also one of the elements why Hatha Yoga isn’t as popular as vinyasa because the classes can be so different and it might take a bit of time to find a teacher that works for you.
How do I teach?
Because I like to implement more flows and kriyas (a combination of breath and movement, like cat-cow), I titled my teaching style Hatha Flow. My classes start with some moments to arrive on the mat, after which we start with some gentle movement, which becomes bigger while we focus on a certain topic (that can be physical, like shoulder openers, mental, like self-love, or spiritual, like a charka focus) until we wind down and end the class with savasana and a short meditation usually.
One of my students has described my classes as “both a reservoir of peace and a spark of fire”, which I really like. Apart from how I teach, I also pay a lot of attention to individual anatomy and see poses always as a spectrum that can look different to all of us. Every time I teach, I end up falling even more in love with the yogic practice.
I’ve also done an Instagram post about this if you’d like to check it out.