Yoga at its Roots
Hatha means the Moon and Sun, or opposing forces, Fire and Water (following a similar concept as yin-yan). It is a balance between strengthening asanas and soothing, opening seated postures, incorporating Pranayama (breathing techniques) and meditation.
Essentially Hatha yoga incorporates all physical yoga as we know it in the west today, i.e Iyengar, Vinyasa, Ashtanga Yoga. However, in the present the term has been coined to become a branch of its own, usually referred to as a softer form of asana, Pranayama and meditation practice. Sometimes it may seem like the right choice for a beginner due to its slower pace and more basic classical postures, but also a relaxing, stress reducing yoga for all levels.
As opposed to the Vinyasa practice I normally teach, my Hatha class focuses on warming the body through Surya namaskar (Sun Salutation), and then moving into a series of classical standing postures where we remain a little longer than usual, holding the posture and finding the depth of our breath, thus exploring the intensity of each pose. The standing sequence is then typically followed by an arm balance and/or an inversion, and ends with an extended seated posture practice. Pranayama is incorporated during the class to promote balance and vitality, and ended with meditation or Yoga Nidra (yogic sleep).
In my personal practice I listen to my body to see what it needs from day to day. Sometimes I may wake up to feel a little lethargic and have no desire to get out of bed, and I choose to do a Vinyasa practice to energize and move energy through my body and mind. Other times I may have a need for grounding and slowing down. I might feel the need to spend more time and focus on each pose, concentrating on my breath and making every movement purposeful. Here is where I come to my faithful Hatha, using my energy to purposefully slow down, be present and brave enough to explore a deeper side of my yoga practice.
About the author:
Silvia Eriksson is a Montezuma resident, originally from Copenhagen, Denmark. Traveler, yogini, aspiring artist, former food enthusiast and graduate of culinary school, she now teaches at Montezuma Yoga full time......