It's All Hatha Yoga
I was just reading yet another article that listed common forms of yoga practice saying, “some of the popular forms of yoga are Hatha, Bikram, Ashtanga, and Iyengar”. The word Hatha translates to vigorous or intense. It is believed the practice got this name referring to the physicality of practice being contrasted to quieter, more “passive” branches of yoga such as meditation, inquiry, and philosophical study. For centuries most practices including asanas and pranayamas were usually referred to as Hatha Yoga. The other aforementioned names are brand or lineage names that still fall within the umbrella of Hatha Yoga. Now days many teachers, and magazine articles, are referring to Hatha as a separate type of practice. Perhaps this is not a big problem since meaning and usage, like everything else, change and evolve over time. But if the name Hatha was lost so would a beautiful metaphor. Probably not by coincidence, Hatha was used to refer to physical yoga because the syllables ha and tha imply the sun and the moon and have a related and informing symbology that reminds us of balance and polarity. That is why it’s useful to keep the broader meaning of Hatha as the umbrella term for all the physical practices of yoga. With the metaphor of sun and moon we are reminded that a central principle of yoga practice is balancing ourselves and the many polarities of living such as inner and outer, vigorous and relaxing, heating and cooling, strength and flexibility, upward and downward, and many more. Enjoy your dance in the many polarities of 2015!