A Hatha Yogi
The Sanskrit word hatha
is thought to be derived from the verbal root hath
which means "to force" or "hold firmly" and thus Hatha Yoga is sometimes called "forceful yoga." It is also thought to be the combinates of two words ha
meaning "sun" and tha
meaning "moon" and thus Hatha Yoga is said to balance the opposing energies of the body - sun and moon, male and female, etc. Hatha Yoga is most often identified with the practice of physical postures (asana
) and breathing techniques (pranayama
There are many schools of Hatha Yoga, and many approaches to teaching. It is not unusual for teachers to study in various schools and to blend techniques to create their own approaches. Differences among the schools are usually about emphasis: One may focus on strict alignment of the body, another on coordination of breath and movement; one may focus on holding each posture for a period of time, another on the flow (vinyasa) from one posture to another. A new yoga may want to try classes in different styles and with different teachers to find those that best match his or her needs.
Many of the schools of Hatha Yoga popular today in the West can trace their roots to the Indian Sanskrit scholar and teacher Krishnamacharya (1889-1989), several of whose pupils have themselves become prominent teachers. Among the most popular and influential in the West are: B.K.S. Iyengar, who founded Iyengar yoga; T.K.V.Desikachar (Krishnamacharya's son), who carries on the tradition, known as Viniyoga, that he learned from his father; and Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, who developed Ashtanga Yoga. There are, however, many popular schools of yoga that may be most suitable for the beginner student. We have provided a comprehensive list of yoga styles and approaches to help you find what you are looking for.