Yoga is no one-dimensional type of exercise. It has a lot of elements and aspects to it, making it incredibly interesting and beneficial to people of all ages, shapes, and sizes. It has become such a popular practice over the years that it has developed several styles.
Every style of yoga is special because it targets specific parts of our physical and mental health. But two of the most talked-about ones are Vinyasa and Hatha yoga. Two very different styles of yoga and yet both well-known for their individual aspects and benefits.
In this article, we will be discussing a comparison: Hatha yoga vs Vinyasa yoga. Everything you need to know about Hatha and Vinyasa yoga is here!
What is Hatha yoga?
The yoga for physical force and mental meditation
Quite frankly, Hatha yoga wears the crown in the most popular style of yoga category. It’s considered an umbrella term used to describe yoga teachings. This means that although not all yoga is Hatha yoga, all physical yoga is considered as Hatha. Hatha yoga is a great way to introduce people to yoga and a lot of beginners start their practice with this.
Hatha is centered on helping us get into relaxation and develop mindfulness. It involves a rather slow-paced and steady transition of one posture to another. Your core strength and agility are being tested in the yoga poses being executed. Deep breathing techniques also play a very important role here to help you get into relaxation.
Basically, hatha yoga focuses more on getting into the poses right rather than moving quickly from one to another. Focus and steadiness are very important factors here. You really get to experience relaxing and improving mindfulness towards your body and surroundings.
History of Hatha yoga
Diving into Traditional vs Modern Hatha Yoga
Hatha (pronounced as “hot ta”) was derived from a Sanskrit word that actually means “force”. It might come off as a surprise for some, considering that yoga is known for being such a gentle physical exercise. This is why according to yoga expert Theos Bernard, Hatha yoga is sometimes referred to as “forceful yoga”.
Traditional Hatha yoga
According to historical context, hatha yoga originated in the 13th century. Yoga masters in hatha yoga were said to believe that coiled snakes were wrapped around our spines. They concluded that it is only through the practice of yoga can the snakes be awakened and then move to your chakras and bring you inner peace and balance.
Other than that, the goals of traditional Hatha yoga are the following:
- Body purification
- Connecting with pure consciousness
- Balance of mental and physical energies
All the traditional Hatha yoga mainly wants to do is for us to bring balance between the two sides of the body, the Ida and Pingala. Also, it was very important to keep the body’s energy flowing through the poses being done. Eastern practices believed that there were blockages that we had to remove before they could cause diseases.
Modern Hatha yoga
Compared to its traditional counterpart, modern Hatha yoga highlights the importance of asana and physical postures. This yoga practice focuses on improving the health, fitness, and wellbeing of the practitioners. Although Hatha yoga is often perceived as a gentle type of yoga compared to others, it actually requires a full degree of effort.
We can say that traditional is more of the internal work while the modern one is more on the physical one. The traditional one is leaning towards the subtle system of Hatha yoga while the modern version is really about physical practices.
The different practices of Hatha yoga
Here is a clear structure of the various practices under Hatha yoga.
This is a physical practice that provides you steadiness, lightens your body, and keeps you free from disease.
This primary practice is also known as “breath retention”. The theory made about this is that the more we can control our breath, the more we can control our life force. This means that if you are able to slow down and extend your breath, you can also do the same to your life.
This teaches how to channel energy and transferring it to certain areas of the body. It also helps develop the skill of turning speech into gestures.
This is the state of meditative consciousness and absorptive contemplation of the absolute.
Key benefits of Hatha yoga
The practice of hatha yoga provides many benefits to the mind and body. In Sweatbox Yoga, we offer a variety of Hatha yoga classes that you can choose from, both hot and non-hot types. Here are the following benefits of Hatha yoga:
Hot Hatha (Sweat level: 3.5/5)
- Relieves stress and tension
- Improves circulation and digestion
- Promotes detoxification
Hot Hatha – Yoga Conditioning (Sweat level: 5/5)
- Strengthens the upper body, lower body, and core
- Improves flexibility
- Stimulates the immune system
Hatha Basics (Sweat level: 2.5/5)
- Improves balance, flexibility, and mobility
- Strengthens and tones muscles
- Improves relaxation and sleep
What is Vinyasa yoga?
The yoga for power and control
If you are looking for a more challenging type of yoga, you might wanna practice Vinyasa. Vinyasa is a powerful yoga style where you execute the poses at a continuous pace. The goal is to get you really sweaty and your heart racing so it’s generally considered as a good cardio workout (but not really recommended for beginners).
The great thing about yoga is that the session is rarely repetitive. It can differ from one session to another, depending on the desired flow of the yoga teacher. So if you’re looking for a routine that involves more intense and continuous movements that will get your body sweating and heart rate up, add Vinyasa flow to your workout routine!
History of Vinyasa yoga
The word Vinyasa is Sanskrit. “Vi” means variation while “Nyasa” means within prescribed parameters. It was believed that Vinyasa was meant to teach us not to “throw our bodies around” but instead understand that our external movements are a way for us to express how we think and feel. We are meant to bring consciousness to every movement we make in each moment.
When Vinyasa yoga was created by Rishi Vamana, the goal was to embody the multiple facets of yoga such as mudra, pranayama, asana, meditation, and Japa.
Characteristics of Vinyasa yoga
If you want to practice Vinyasa yoga, you must remember its following characteristics:
- Breathing techniques are very important for they help us connect one posture to the next one. It’s a continuous flow of movements which is why it’s often referred to as “Flow yoga”.
- Transitions are what make the Vinyasa practice special. They make it possible for the sequence to take place. In fact, they should also be considered a part of the poses.
- Vinyasa is all about the movement. The execution of the poses, accompanied by your inhalation and exhalation makes it possible for us to move in and out of the poses better.
- Vinyasa yoga is an athletic and aerobic type of workout that will really get your body moving. It will increase your heart rate and make you sweat, more than the other types of yoga exercise. Due to this, it can be fun and exhilarating to practice.
Key benefits of Vinyasa yoga
Vinyasa yoga is a very popular yoga practice due to its many formidable characteristics and the benefits it provides:
- Improves stability and balance
- A good cardio exercise
- Good training for endurance and strength
- Reduces stress and anxiety
- Helps with weight loss
Hatha or Vinyasa: Which one is the better style of yoga?
Hatha and Vinyasa—both very prominent and well-known yoga practices. They have their differences and comparative factors. But is one really better than the other? Should we be more team Hatha or Vinyasa? Let’s have a look:
Hatha yoga is forceful yoga but it captures the essence of posture, breathing control, and slow-paced growth. This is a type of yoga practice that will enable you to formally prepare from one posture to the next. Hatha is a lot more gentle compared to Vinyasa. It’s all about healthy relaxation and allowing yourself to breathe after a long, hard day. By learning how to center your breath, you will be able to connect with your inner energy and strengthen yourself both physically and mentally.
On the other hand, Vinyasa yoga has a faster pace, thanks to the continuous string of movements. It’s more physically and mentally challenging. Holding the poses will take longer and then the transition is faster from one posture to another. This is a yoga practice not recommended for beginners but to those who are looking for a more intense workout to help them get into fitness. This is why it’s considered a good cardio workout or something that will aid in weight loss.
Finally, Hatha yoga is more susceptible for beginners. These are the people whose eyes are opening to the world of yoga for the first time. Vinyasa, meanwhile, is more for those who already had previous experience with yoga and are looking for more.
Both Vinyasa and Hatha Yoga are important in our lives. One cannot exist without the other. They serve different purposes and do not share most of the same characteristics, but they have the same goal: to make us healthy and fit. They want to help us inhibit a good kind of lifestyle that will help us face our daily challenges better. Whether it’s relaxing yoga, power yoga, or any other, we need to remember that yoga, in general, has a significant role in our lives. These yoga poses will help us be the best version of ourselves physically, mentally, and spiritually!
If you want to know more about Vinyasa and Hatha yoga or experience them yourself, you can join Sweatbox Yoga studio! It’s the best yoga studio in Singapore and offers a variety of Hatha and Vinyasa classes.