Hatha yoga is the most widely taught form of yoga in the western world, with classes offering students exercises to stretch and flex the body, develop breath awareness, relaxation and meditation. It can strengthen and tone the body, unlock tight breathing patterns and still the mind.
Asanas (yoga postures) strengthen and tone the body and improve the flow of energy – regulating physical systems of the body and breath, and stilling the mind for meditation.
The asanas used in a class will vary from teacher to teacher and depend on the abilities of the students. The objective in asana work is not how far you can stretch or contort your body, but to combine stability (stira) with ease/relaxation (sukha).
Simple breathing techniques are taught to develop awareness and relaxation of the breath. These are then developed into ‘pranayama’ exercises – controlling and moving prana through the breath. Prana means the ‘vital’ or ‘life force energy’.
Different meditation techniques are integrated into the asana, breath work and relaxation.