Hatha Yoga

Lady Niguma
Hatha Yoga is the best known path of yoga practiced in the west today. 

Though modern yoga studios may offer more than just the postures, on their schedules the title "Hatha Yoga" usually refers to the "plain yogurt" version of an asana class. 

By that, I mean that the class will not necessarily adhere to the framework of any particular tradition or lineage. 

Rather, it will most likely be an assortment of yoga postures selected at the personal discretion of the teacher, like plain yogurt with yummy stuff mixed in.

Traditionally, Hatha Yoga is the practice of balancing, harmonizing or unifying polarities; right and left, inner and outer, body/mind and spirit, the Self and the Divine.

In that context, yoga means "to join" or "union" and it involves much more than just the postures.

According to the Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Yogi Swatmarama (click here to go to the text):

Hatha Yoga has five essential components: 

  1. Asana
  2. Pranayama
  3. Mudra
  4. Kriya
  5. Bandha  
My study of Hatha Yoga has mainly followed two lineages:
  • The Twelve Basic Postures as taught by the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres founded by Swami Vishnudevananda in the name of his teacher, Swami Sivananda Saraswati of Rishikesh. 

12 basic asanas
The Twelve Basic Asanas of Swami Vishnudevananda and Sivananda Yoga

Yogini Maheshwari in Vajrasana high above Jasper, Alberta.

Both lineages teach the traditional components of Hatha Yoga as well as a synthesis of all the Yogic paths.