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"With ha meaning "sun" and tha meaning "moon," Hatha Yoga is commonly translated as the yoga that brings union "of the pairs of opposites." --from Sanatan Society
Thus hatha yoga is the joining together of yin/yang, positive/negative, action/passivity, masculine/feminine, giving/receiving and all the numerous other polarities in our understanding.
The traditional meaning of “hatha” yoga is the physical practice of yoga asanas. Thus, strickly speaking all forms & styles of physical practice including power is really Hatha. From Patanjali’s yoga sutras: Hatha is the second step of Ashtanga’s eight-fold path which is as follows: Yama (self-restraints), Niyama (fixed observance), Hatha (asana or specific posture), Pranayama (breathing practices), Dharana (concentration), Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), Dhyana (meditation), Samadhi (supramental consciousness).
Traditionally, the 5 yamas (moral observances): ahimsa (non-violence), satya (non-lying), asteya (non-stealing), brachmcharya (chastity) & aparigraha (non-attachment) and the 5 Niyamas: Saucha (cleanliness, purity) Santosha (contentment), Tapas (heat or discipline), Svadhyaya (study of self & sacred scriptures), Isvara Pranidhana (surrender to the Divine) were studied prior to any type of “hatha” practice. This was to ensure that there would be no harming to the self on any level due to ego attachments during one’s practice
But as these yoga teachings came to the West, things changed up a bit. Many of the teachings were omitted and other bits and pieces of the tradition were taken and tailored to our culture. As well, many of the Sanskrit terms became loosely used, so now here in our culture, “hatha” classes have come to mean any kind of asana class that is not a power class. At YARD, we are using this topical meaning of “hatha” as well and although our hatha classes may vary quite a bit in style depending on the instructor and their teaching lineage, the basic similarities of all our hatha classes are quite simply 1) a predominately physical practice and 2) a non-hot environment.
It is said that there are 840,000 asanas (postures) in Hatha Yoga. The asanas are used to channelize prana (energy or chi), open the chakras and remove energy blockages on all levels. This in turn provides for a healthy and efficiently running body, mind & spirit. As it is “hatha yoga” – this also entails a unifying of body, mind & spirit. What is quite interesting is that from a old yogic perspective – all postures lead to culminating the posture of Padmasana or Lotus posture (full crossed legged seated posture) in order to best facilitate the evolving steps of the Ashtanga path –which eventually lead one to Samadhi or Bliss. In other words, all these thousands of postures so that the body, mind & spirit can simply sit still with ease!
Within our hatha classes here, depending on the teacher, not only do we offer different styles but there may also be varying degrees of the other limbs of yoga incorporated within the class. Some hatha classes offer more of the philosophy (yamas & niyamas), some more breath work, or meditation and so forth. Try a few different styles and instructors to find out which resonates best with you.
On behalf of all the instructors at YARD, best wishes for your fabulous journey of self-discovery and of enlightenment …. whether that be a lighter body, a lighter mind or a lighter heart …..