In the West hatha yoga has become a synonym for a specific style of yoga, but in reality hatha yoga is the foundation of all yoga styles. In Hatha Yoga Pradipika, an ancient yogic text written in the 15th century, Yogi Swatmarama introduced a system of physical practice (asana) combined with breathing techniques (pranayama), whose only purpose was to prepare the body to sit still in meditation.
Hatha yoga is a term that refers to the balance between the sun (ha) and moon (tha) energy channels governing, respectively. the masculine aspects – active, hot, expansive, invigorating – and feminine aspects – passive, cool, introspective, calming – that are present within all of us. Yoga is then about the integration of opposites, a concept that I regularly highlight in my teaching. For those looking to take a step further, the ultimate essence of yoga is about realising the non-dualistic nature of reality. Hatha yoga teaches the balance of effort and ease, and is a practice that is at once awakening and calming.
In my hatha yoga classes the emphasis is on an all-round practice of yoga where the student takes an inner journey based on the practice of asana, pranayama and meditation. A strong emphasis is placed on correct anatomical alignment to prevent pain or injury. Students will also explore bandhas, mudras, mantra chanting and the eight-limbed path described by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras, a text that defines the structural framework for yoga practice.