At Event Haven we currently offer two types of Yoga; Power Yoga with highly trained teachers from Africa Yoga Project, as well as Hatha Yoga with Kui who recently returned from an extensive training period in India.
Hatha Definition In its most basic usage, hatha means yoga. The word hatha describes any kind of yoga in which poses are done. (Remember that yoga has eight limbs, only one of which, asana, is concerned with yoga poses.) If you do Iyengar Yoga, this is hatha yoga. If you do Ashtanga, as different as it may seem, it is also hatha yoga. Any of the many contemporary types of physical yoga practices can be accurately described as hatha yoga. Hatha History Hatha means forceful in Sanskrit. Compared to more subtle practices that were in use at the time (which may have been as early as the 12th century), the physical practices of hatha must have seemed forceful, according to Ellen Stansell, a scholar of yogic literature. However, it was some time before hatha became synonymous with yoga asanas as we practice them today. The first Indian gurus who brought yoga to a western audience in the mid-19th century took pains to distance themselves from hatha yoga, which they associated with wandering street mendicants called yogins, according to Mark Singleton's book Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice. Singleton explains that it was not until the international popularity of the physical culture movement later in the 19th century that hatha yoga was integrated into the teachings coming west. How Hatha Is Used Today Given that the word has such an open meaning, what should you expect if you attend a hatha yoga class? These days, hatha is most often used to describe gentle, basic yoga classes with no flow between poses. Expect a slower-paced stretching class with some basic pranayama breathing exercises and perhaps seated meditation at the end. Hatha classes are a good place to learn beginners' poses, relaxation techniques, and become comfortable with yoga. What About Hatha Flow? Just to confuse things more, some studios throw something called hatha flow into the mix. Wait, didn't I just say that hatha wasn't flow? Well, since the term is so open, it can be used to mean almost any kind of asana class. What some call hatha flow, I would call vinyasa. However, some places take the confusion one step further by offering both hatha flow and vinyasa. In this case, expect the vinyasa to be a little more vigorous, but so much depends upon the approach of each individual teacher that it's impossible to be definitive on this point without taking specific classes. If you need more clarification, ask at the studio or gym where the classes are taught. Is Hatha Yoga for You? Try a hatha class if the idea of gentle yoga appeals to you or seems right for your level of physical fitness. It can be a great introduction to yoga, but shouldn't be mistaken for easy yoga since it can still be challenging both physically and mentally. If you go into a hatha class and it feels too slow or not active enough, don't give up on yoga completely.
Power Yoga is a general term used to describe a vigorous, fitness-based approach to vinyasa-style yoga. Though many consider it to be "gym yoga," this style of practice was originally closely modeled on the Ashtanga method. The term came into common usage in the mid-1990s when a few teachers who had studied with Ashtanga guru Sri K. Pattabhi Jois began to attempt to make what they had learned more accessible to western students. They also wanted to move away from the rigidity of the Ashtanga sequence, which is a set series of poses that are always done in the same order. Power Yoga takes the athleticism of Ashtanga, including lots of vinyasas, but gives each teacher the flexibility to teach any poses in any order, making every class different. With its emphasis on strength and flexibility, power yoga brought yoga into the gyms of America as people began to see yoga as a way to work out. Although Power Yoga classes vary widely from teacher to teacher, you can expect to find some intense flowing yoga with a minimal amount of chanting and meditation. Gyms and health clubs in particular have taken up the term as a way to let their clienteles know that this is exercise. Prepare to work hard and work up a sweat.