An Indian legend tells us that, thousands of years ago, some people managed to get behind the external appearance of our physical world. These Rishis, a term that literally translates into “seers”, experienced an eternal, divine truth. Inspired by this new perspective on the world which changed everything, they searched for ways to share their experiences with other people. However, the essence is beyond the intellect and therefore cannot be described with words. The Rishis began to pass on the rhythms of the world condensed into chants to a new generation of people. In this way, the roots of the yoga tradition began to form. Over time, some rhythms and chants turned into the texts of the Vedas, but many others have never been laid down in writing. They were exclusively passed on orally from generation to generation – as was the mystical experience of yoga. Some rhythms and chants did not even use language since the real experience cannot be expressed with words. Those who immerge themselves in the practice of Ashtanga Yoga become part of this vivid tradition. The dynamic practice of Ashtanga Yoga is a chant expressed by body and breaths which mirrors the rhythm of the world. By way of continuous practice, the key to this immediate experience is passed on. Over time, thousands of yogis have experienced the wisdom behind this dance of the breath with the body.
Most forms of yoga in the West can be classified as Hatha Yoga. Hatha simply refers to the practice of physical yoga postures, meaning your Ashtanga, vinyasa, Iyengar and Power Yoga classes are all Hatha Yoga.
The word hatha means willful or forceful. Hatha yoga refers to a set of physical exercises (known as asanas or postures), and sequences of asanas, designed to align your skin, muscles, and bones. The postures are also designed to open the many channels of the body—especially the main channel, the spine—so that energy can flow freely.
Hatha is also translated as ha meaning “sun” and tha meaning “moon.” This refers to the balance of masculine aspects—active, hot, sun—and feminine aspects—receptive, cool, moon—within all of us. Hatha yoga is a path toward creating balance and uniting opposites. In our physical bodies we develop a balance of strength and flexibility. We also learn to balance our effort and surrender in each pose.
Hatha yoga is a powerful tool for self-transformation. It asks us to bring our attention to our breath, which helps us to still the fluctuations of the mind and be more present in the unfolding of each moment.