Updated: Nov 14, 2018
Hatha YOGA is the physical practice of YOGA. The asana practice of hatha YOGA symbolizes the connection of the sun and the moon, bringing the world and the physical body into balance. Hatha also means “to strike,” meaning to strike the body with the challenge of the postures and to “yoke” (the meaning of YOGA) the mind into singular focus. Most styles of YOGA in the United States are based in Hatha with different philosophies, practices, and terminology that allow YOGA to fit the individual practitioner. Its traditional source in relation to the postures is the Hatha YOGA Pradipika. See below for more information on styles of Hatha YOGA.
Styles of YOGA
There are many styles or schools of Hatha YOGA. Here are a few that inform the teachers here at Taproot YOGA.
T. Krishnamacharya, a South Indian yogi born in 1888, is said to be the “grandfather of modern YOGA.” One of Krishnamacharya’s key philosophies was that YOGA should be adapted to the individual, not the individual to YOGA. This rule informed his practice as he taught many of the 20th century’s leading yogis, including Pattabhi Jois, Iyengar, and his son, TKV Desikachar, who were instrumental in bringing YOGA to the West. The schools or styles of YOGA that were developed by these teachers are the first three mentioned below.
Ashtanga Vinyasa YOGA is a fast-paced, flowing series of sequential postures as prescribed by YOGA master K. Pattabhi Jois, who was an early student of Krishnamacharya’s. There are six series of asanas that increase in difficulty, allowing students to work at their own pace. Asanas are connected by the breath and are linked with sun salutations. Most classes taught in the United States focus on the Primary Series.
Iyengar YOGA was developed in Pune, India by BKS Iyengar, one of the most influential yogis of his time. Iyengar was a student of Krishnamacharya’s and took what he learned to cure himself of disease through asana and pranayama. In the Iyengar method, special attention is paid to precise muscular and skeletal alignment. Poses (especially standing postures) are typically held much longer than in other schools of YOGA to allow for adjustments to be made. The Iyengar system also uses props, such as belts, chairs, blocks, and blankets, to help accommodate any special needs such as injuries or structural imbalances.
ViniYOGA means YOGA for the individual. As Krishnamacharya aged and taught his son TKV Desikachar, he focused on the adapting asana, pranayama and other YOGA practices (ritual, chanting, prayer) to the individual. ViniYOGA focuses on the traditional teachings of YOGA and the adherence to a practice that serves the individual needs of the practitioner.