Types of (Hatha) Yoga
Hatha Yoga is a system of pranayama (breathing practice), physical movements and strength building poses that affect the physical, mental and emotional body. In ancient times it was taught one on one and not as a group practice, to prepare the student for long periods of meditation. All physical seated poses and movement practices of yoga, especially when combined with breath, fall under the umbrella of Hatha yoga. Different teachers have coined names for the style of practice they have refined (ie. Kripalu, Integral, Iyengar, Power, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, etc.). On an entry level, physical (Hatha) yoga creates awareness of physical body and personality (emotional/ mental bodies). This can lead us to awareness of the subtle worlds beyond the physical/personality as the student develops. Most forms of modern hatha yoga practices, especially those that have influenced the Western world, can be traced back to Tirumalai Krishnamacharya who tuned into the individual and gave them a practice that would benefit their karma best. Many of those whom he gifted with individual practices took their practices to the world and attached their own name to it. Mixed Hatha integrates techniques from different classes.
Beginner's Power Yoga is a breath focused, basic strength building and warming, sequential style of Hatha yoga. The room is warm which enhances suppleness in the muscles and allows the body to move more freely. The poses are linked by a series of postures called "vinyasa" and combined with rhythmic ujjayi pranayama (breath). There are several similar Hatha Yoga practices following this formula including Ashtanga and Baptiste.
Gentle Hatha Yoga looks at overcoming the limitations of the physical body through a harmonious sequence of poses combined with conscious breathing practices. Emphasis is on posture. Restorative practices are explored.
Pregnancy Hatha Yoga is for 2nd or 3rd trimester women. It is a scientifically designed class to prepare the body for the birth process and nourish a positive experience of pregnancy. During the childbearing process a woman's body is immersed in the creative energies. It is important to acknowledge and honour this. This form of Yoga is a well-rounded style of Hatha (asanas, pranayamas, bandhas) Yoga. The focus is on heart centered teaching with emphasis on breath, spinal alignment, development of self awareness & mother’s intuition, and connection with the baby. TESTIMONIAL: “I really enjoyed your classes, and I feel they prepared me for what's ahead more than the official ante-natal classes I attended! You created a lovely atmosphere in every class.“ Zoe H, Prenatal Yoga student.
Restorative Hatha Yoga is a slow paced class emphasizing breathing and supported holding of postures. A profoundly relaxing system that seems to 'reset' the nervous system. The effects can linger on for days. These are integrated in the Hatha Yoga series each term. It may include indepth instruction on breath, prana, koshas, doshas and chakras.
Retreats allow for an integral reconnection to one's self. Explore the tranquility of nature, and the renewal effects of daily integrated yoga practices. Natural therapy at it's best! During the course of each retreat there are periods of silence (free time) to allow for self reflection. Sitting quietly or slowly moving silently through nature is encouraged. Locations for retreats vary.
Other important limbs on the yoga tree:
Mantra and meditation yoga is practiced in a state of stillness to consciously move deeper into the inner subtler planes. Mantra practice, which is the tuning into Sacred sound, is respectfully followed by a significant period of silence to allow the invoked energy to come into our conscious being. The Western personality best integrates the Sacredness of this practice with silence. The common mistake of Western teachers is to practice mantra in a Hatha yoga class and then immediately switch back to the logical mind by explaining what just happened or what the class is going to do next instead of experiencing what just happened. This switching of our consciousness from focusing on the subtle and sub-conscious to snapping us back to the logical mind wrongly trains the busy Western mind. This is like phoning the number to higher consciousness and then just putting the phone down and walking away without without listening and receiving the subtle information or energy. The lesson for the Western mind is the lesson of learning to surrender the Ego to Higher Consciousness and practice stillness and silence. This class is an advanced form of yoga taught at a beginner's level.