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Hatha Yoga

Despite the prevalence of brand-name Yoga styles, each with its own orientation and curriculum, many Yoga studios and independent teachers still offer what is simply called Hatha Yoga.

Hatha Yoga meditation

Hatha Yoga classes often reflect a more eclectic emphasis on traditional Yoga practices.

The teacher may draw on content and principles from a number of different sources while still maintaining a more generic approach to Yoga poses, breathing, purification practices and meditation.

Hatha Yoga classes can be gentle, vigorous, therapeutic or otherwise adaptable.

Read the class description and get to know what the teacher plans to emphasize, preferably by taking a trial class, before deciding whether a specific Hatha Yoga class is right for you.

The meaning of the word Hatha is, literally, sun (ha) and moon (tha). In this sense, its aim is reminiscent of the Chinese principle of balancing masculine and feminine energies.

The emphasis on physical postures, breath and other Hatha Yoga practices is said to create a balance between opposing forces in the body and thus restore calmness and vitality, while enabling the student to engage in deeper meditative practices.

Some Hatha Yoga classes incorporate an awareness of energy centres and energy channels said to coexist with the physical body but on subtler levels.

Because of its traditional associations and ancient roots, Hatha Yoga is sometimes used as a blanket term to refer to all physical yoga styles. When you see a listing for a Hatha Yoga class, however, it often simply means that the teacher will take a gentle, traditional approach, that develops the fundamentals in a relaxed manner.

For some students, this approach may not be high-octane enough; they may prefer more vigorous and challenging Yoga styles. For others, however, traditional Hatha Yoga classes embody the essence of Yoga: a harmonious and peaceful practice that reduces stress and brings about gentle progress.