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Introduction to Yoga - day 4

Updated: Apr 23, 2023

Understanding Hatha Yoga

This week we will be talking about Hatha Yoga. Simplistically, this is a school of Yoga (like your "university" department) concerned with physical health.

Remember all physical Yoga is Hatha Yoga! Don't be fooled!

All your favourite classes derive from Hatha Yoga school being:

Krishnamacharya's Vinyasa Krama, was the closest to the original yoga as in the older books. This seemed to be more movement-based than static postures - which were used mainly when there were health problems (old medicine)!

(from Wikipedia):

Tirumalai Krishnamacharya Venkata Desikachar (21 June 1938 – 8 August 2016), better known as T. K. V. Desikachar, was a yoga teacher, son of the pioneer of modern yoga as exercise, Tirumalai Krishnamacharya. The style that he taught was initially called Viniyoga although he later abandoned that name and asked for the methods he taught to be called "yoga" without special qualification.[1][2][3]

K. Pattabhi Jois's Ashtanga (vinyasa) yoga, a type of yoga exercise with fixed sequences, is also popularised by super flexible names like John Scott, Matthew Sweeney and Kino Mcgregor.

(from Wikipedia):

Ashtanga vinyasa yoga is a style of yoga as exercise popularised by K. Pattabhi Jois during the twentieth century, often promoted as a modern-day form of classical Indian yoga.[1] Jois claimed to have learnt the system from his teacher Tirumalai Krishnamacharya. The style is energetic, synchronising breath with movements. The individual poses (asanas) are linked by flowing movements (vinyasas).[2]
Jois established his Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute in 1948.[3] The current style of teaching is called "Mysore style", after the city in India where the practice was originally taught.[4] Ashtanga vinyasa yoga has given rise to various spinoff styles of power yoga.


B. K. S. Iyengar's Iyengar Yoga, though Mr Iyengar was doing his Vinyasa style for 50 years, he realised that people do not have a regimental exercise; therefore he developed a yoga system based on precision and alignment of asanas

(from Wikipedia):

Iyengar Yoga, named after and developed by B. K. S. Iyengar, and described in his bestselling[1] 1966 book Light on Yoga, is a form of yoga as exercise that has an emphasis on detail, precision and alignment in the performance of yoga postures (asanas).
The style often makes use of props, such as belts, blocks, and blankets, as aids in performing the asanas. The props enable beginning students, the elderly, or those with physical limitations to perform the asanas correctly, minimising the risk of injury or strain.

Restorative Yoga - when B.K.S. Iyengar realised we were not able to do the Yoga Exercise he learned, he adapted the Asana style to make it a calming class, which we loved here in the west:

(from Wikipedia)

the Yoga Journal editor Judith Lasater helped to popularize restorative yoga, based on Iyengar Yoga's asanas and use of props.[3][4][5] Lasater states that "you will need" a yoga mat, four yoga blocks, three firm bolsters, three hand towels, three eye bags, eight firm blankets, a broad 6 feet (1.8 m) long yoga belt, a folding metal chair with the front rung removed, and two 10 pounds (4.5 kg) sandbags.

Well that is a lot... of stuff to worry about!


Paulie Zink, Paul Grilley and Sarah Powers' Taoist or better known Yin Yoga - where you hold your postures for a prolonged amount of time (in comparison with any other Yoga exercise)

(from Wikipedia);

Yin Yoga is slow-paced style of yoga as exercise, incorporating principles of traditional Chinese medicine, with asanas (postures) that are held for longer periods of time than in other styles.
Yin Yoga was founded in the late 1970s by martial arts expert and Taoist yoga teacher Paulie Zink. Yin Yoga is taught across North America and Europe, encouraged by its teachers Paul Grilley and Sarah Powers. As taught by Grilley and Powers, it is not intended as a complete practice in itself, but as a complement to more active forms of yoga and exercise.


Mr infamous Bikram Choudhury - based on the teachings of B. C. Ghosh - Bikram Yoga - a (very) hot fixed sequence yoga practice popularised in the early 1970s in the USA

Bikram Yoga is a system of hot yoga, a type of yoga as exercise, devised by Bikram Choudhury and based on the teachings of B. C. Ghosh, that became popular in the early 1970s.[1] Classes consist of a fixed sequence of 26 postures, practised in a room heated to 105 °F (41 °C) with a humidity of 40%, intended to replicate the climate of India. The room is fitted with carpets and the walls are covered in mirrors. The instructor may adjust the students' yoga postures. Choudhury's teaching style was abrasive.[2]
Bikram Yoga spread rapidly across America and the Western world, reaching a peak of some 1,650 studios in at least 40 countries in 2006. Choudhury attempted to copyright the Bikram Yoga sequence from 2011, but was ultimately unsuccessful. In 2016, facing lawsuits and accusations of sexual assault, Choudhury fled to India, leaving Bikram Yoga, Inc. to be run by others.[3]


David Life and Sharon Gannon's Jivamukti (created in 1984) say it based themselves on traditional Yoga. It is vigorous and very similar to popular Ashtanga and Vinyasa styles.

The Jivamukti Yoga method is a proprietary style of yoga created by David Life and Sharon Gannon in 1984.[1]
Jivamukti is a physical, ethical, and spiritual practice, combining a vigorous yoga as exercise, vinyasa-based physical style with adherence to five central tenets: shastra (scripture), bhakti (devotion), ahimsā(nonviolence, non-harming), nāda (music), and dhyana (meditation). It also emphasizes animal rights, veganism, environmentalism,[2] and social activism.[3]


John Friend's Anusara Yoga was founded by the American-born yoga teacher in 1997

Anusara School of Hatha Yoga, also known as Anusara Yoga (In Hindi:अनुसार योग) is the successor of a modern school of hatha yoga founded by American-born yoga teacher John Friend in 1997. Friend derived his style from the Iyengar style of yoga and reintroduced elements of Hindu spirituality into a more health-oriented Western approach to Yoga.


Words you might come across n your schedule at Yoga Life Space

Anusara - branded Hatha Yoga

Core - based on your abdominal (solar plexus) and hip muscles

Flow - meaning normally going from posture to posture with the breath

Gentle - easier postures, letting go of tension, could be restorative or Yin. Could be a floor practice only

Hatha - classical yoga, diverse sequences and postures. Normally you have time to adjust postures

Power - vigorous, higher level of expertise and strength required

Restore(ative) - bigger resting in the postures

Vinyasa - a flow, sun salutation based, as well as other sequences

Yin - branded Hatha Yoga; prolonged holding of postures

Words you might come across at Yoga 1

Yoga Arambha - main name for a entrance level class or for us who are very happy to take it easier (i.e. a beginner class)

Yoga Sukham - main name for a easy/gentle class (similarities to a Yin class, restorative, and related )

Yoga Kriya ™ - main name for a movement-base class (similarities to a Yogalates, pilates, Body Balance, and related)

Yoga Asana ™ - main name for a Posture-based class (This is the Yoga you might find around, including hot yoga - though we do not do yuk sweaty smelly yoga)

Yoga Virya - main name for a Power-based class (similarities to a Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, Jivamukti and related)

Diamond/Thunderbolt Posture(s)

Vajrasana & Vajraverasana

Reclined variations


Camel Posture(s)


Forward Postures

Rabbit Posture (also known as child posture with arms extended)

Devotional Posture (also known as child posture with arms to the side)

Child Posture (modern yoga started calling this posture puppy-dog posture; though this is my tradition's original child posture).


Cobras, dogs and Cukoos

(Baby) Cobra posture with different hand variations

Cobra is your original backend where your hips are on the floor. You have plenty of other variations on your cobra, Upward-dog being one - your hips are away from the floor, which means you are pressing with your hands and the top of the feet on the floor.

Cukoo posture is a classical name for your backend with your toes tucked. The legs represent the feathers of the cukoo bird - teachers are sometimes scared of this posture cause they didn't learn it, so please check if you are alright to do it.


Locust Posture(s)

There are plenty of variations, though these seem to be the classic take on locust - a slight difference from the ones who lift your chest too (see bow posture).


Bow Posture(s)


Weel Posture(s)

This is a very difficult posture. If you are not there yet, carry one with your bridge variations (see below)


Bridge Posture(s)


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