Clearing Things Up: What is Hatha Yoga?

With so many different styles of yoga around, and more popping up every day, it may be tempting to look at “Hatha Yoga” on a class schedule as yet another style, like Vinyasa or Kundalini.

In fact, Hatha yoga is more or less a generic name for any kind of yoga where you are doing the postures (Asana), breath work (Pranayama), and meditation. In the Venn diagram of Yoga, Hatha is the outer circle to the other smaller, inner circles of yoga styles.

Hatha Yoga was introduced in the 15th century by a sage named Yogi Swatmarama, through a text called Hatha Yoga Pradipika. In Sanskrit, Ha means moon, and tha means sun, referring to opposites in our systems, such as Prana – the life force, and Apana – the elimination of energy. Together Hatha Yoga means the joining of the active solar energy and receptive lunar energy for a more balanced, stable mind and body in meditation.