Hatha yoga is a yoga practice that focuses on the physical poses (asanas), and breathing (pranayama) to help prepare for meditation, and then explore the other 6 limbs of yoga.
What is It?
Rather than a style, it is actually a general category of yoga and can encompass several other styles like Vinyasa, Ashtanga or Iyengar. It is often referred to as Hatha if you are looking on a studio schedule, and is a great way to discover yoga for your first time. Hatha means “forceful” or “strong” in sanskrit, but it’s also reference to the Sun (Ha) and the Moon (Tha), and the balance between the two. In this practice of yoga, there are 84 fundamental poses, but there are innumerable variations, so you definitely won’t get bored!
A regular practice can have many physical and mental benefits!
Increases strength and balance
Helps alleviate lower back pain
Regular practice can help lower blood pressure
Reduces stress and anxiety
Increases sense of calm
Enhances mental focus
What to Expect in Your First Class?
Since Hatha is such a general term, this type of class can really vary from studio to studio, so it’s best to ask the teacher any questions beforehand so you know what to expect. That being said, a Hatha class is usually more gentle and slow, and a perfect class for beginners to yoga.
The class generally lasts about an hour or longer, and the teacher will go through many different physical asanas, while also concentrating on breath. Take your time moving into each pose, and recognize your limits. This class is an excellent introduction to the yoga world!
What You Need to Practice - Comfort is Key
Choose a mat that is comfortable and at least 5 mm thick.
Any comfortable bottoms (shorts, capris or pants) in a cotton or stretchy fabric that breathes and allows movement are great.
Choose a tank top or t-shirt that moves with you, but it is helpful to have a sweatshirt or blanket for the relaxation period.
Your mat is most important, but you can also use yoga blocks, or a yoga strap to help you in certain poses.