What is Hatha Yoga?

Hatha Yoga in the Himalayan Tradition, which includes rules of conduct and observances, as well as cleansing practices, asana, pranayama, and relaxation practice—is designed to relieve tension in the body, balance the nervous system, and gently withdraw the mind from its usual preoccupations.

Group classes labeled “hatha” can vary widely, depending on the teacher and his/her background and interests. Some classes will be quite physical, while others will focus more on breathwork and meditation practices. In general, the classes I teach are inspired by the Himalayan sage tradition of The Himalayan Institute where I received my training — a living tradition from which I continue to learn and practice. The asanas are traditional, straightforward, & effective.

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Effective use of tools is part of the practice.

I’m also intersperse modern functional movement practices which prepare the body for traditional poses. We use tools such as blankets, bolsters & blocks to make the poses your own — you’ll find each practitioner doing something a little different in my classes, as each person honors their unique body & mind on any given day.

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Traditional practice for modern life.

Hatha group / private classes combine mindful asana (postures), breathwork, and a finishing guided relaxation (Often I hear from new students that the guided relaxation at the end of class is a unique feature of Hatha classes). In general, traditional “Hatha” classes tend to move at a steady, intentional pace. We focus on the breath and hold poses a little longer than in a vinyasa flow style class. Poses are sequenced intelligently and in a specific order to facilitate mindful movement of energy in the body, to soothe the nervous system, and to focus the mind.

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Penn State students in a guided relaxation practice.

In layman’s terms — students often say, “I just FEEL good after class,” “I slept better after class,” “I feel more focused and energized during the day.”

Hatha yoga is well-suited for beginners because it gives one time to investigate a pose, breath technique or meditation focus. That said, Hatha is also perfect for more seasoned students — holding postures is an incredible way to build strength and focus, breath techniques advance your practice on and off your mat, while relaxation practices soothe the nervous system & calm the mind. The ultimate goal of “yoga” is to master the fluctuations of the mind — an advanced practice in itself!

See you on the mat!