Hatha Yoga is derived from older sanskrit texts and holds many styles of yoga under it’s large umbrella. The word Hatha is general and refers to the practice of physical yoga postures, so Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Iyengar, JAMA and Power Yoga classes are all Hatha Yoga. The word “hatha” can be translated as the yoga of activity, and as “sun” (ha) and “moon” (tha), the yoga of balance. Hatha is a willful yoga as poses are often held for a minimum of 1 to 5 minutes. I thought my shoulders and arms would fall off at the 4 minute mark of my first Adho Mukha Svanasana (down dog)! In Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Swatmarama introduces his system as preparatory stage for physical purification that the body practices for higher meditation or Yoga. It’s based on asanas (postures) and pranayama (breathing techniques) much like Vinyasa and JAMA yoga (Journey Around Movement and Asana). Vinyasa and JAMA further personalize your yoga practice through the use of intention and mantras. JAMA yoga takes Hatha yoga another step further by integrating qigong and dance movements into the asanas (postures) to both align chakra, and balance the nervous system. JAMA yoga, the journey around movement and asana has a cardiovascular element, and emphasizes the activation of deep personal and community connection. JAMA yoga adds elements of movement (dance) because this added element teaches the body new neuromuscular and neurochemical activation patterns – improving one’s ability to focus better, align the body, let go of pain sooner and drop into meditation faster.
All three yogas (Hatha, Vinyasa and JAMA) begin with a focus and intention. Every style of yoga offers a unique combination of postures that correspond with the chakras, small and large muscle groups and YOUR SOUL if the intention is there. ALL levels, every BODY (from stiff beginners to athletic dancers) are encouraged to sample different styles of yoga and diverse teachers until one resinates with you. There is a yoga style out there for everyone.