Hatha + Vinyasa Yoga : What is the Difference?

The classes offered from Effort & Ease are often described as either "Hatha" or "Vinyasa" yoga. Understanding what the heck the difference is between the two can be confusing. Also considering you've probably heard of SEVERAL different types of yoga: Ashtanga, Yin, Bikram, Kundalini, Anusara, Iyengar, ETC! All types have different origins and traditions.

Here I'm going to explain the differences (and similarities) between Hatha and Vinyasa Yoga so that you know what to expect when you show up to practice. 

HATHA YOGA //

So, to put it simply, almost ALL yoga is Hatha Yoga. In the beginning of yoga, Hatha (meaning "forceful" in Sanskrit) related directly to the physical practice of asana (poses). From Hatha yoga, other types of yoga, such as those listed above, were born. In today's society, Hatha yoga generally refers to a more gentle practice including basic postures and a focus on breathing steadily in each pose. There is generally no "flow" (read on for more info on what that means) in today's version of a "Hatha" yoga class. Hatha classes are a great place to start learning about yoga and to become comfortable with breathing and getting to the body. Some folks with an existing yoga practice appreciate a Hatha yoga class for it's meditative and relaxing qualities. If you attend a Hatha yoga class and it feels too slow for you, check out Vinyasa for an entirely different experience. 

VINYASA YOGA // 

Vinyasa classes are like a Hatha yoga class, amplified due to flowing through every pose with the natural rhythym of the breath. The purpose of a vinyasa yoga class is to build heat in the body, to strengthen + lengthen muscles simultaneously.  Vinyasa classes are also referred to as "flow" classes which appropriately desribes the nature of the class. A vinyasa class can look very different varying from instructor to instructor, but the basic premise is the same. Building heat happens quickly generally through the use of Sun Salutations and a flow linking standing and balancing asanas with the breath. It can be referred to as a power class, which was developed as part of the Ashtanga tradition (a very vigorous but meditative physical practice). Vinyasa classes are often challenging, but the purpose first and foremost is to keep the focus on the breath and honor your body in each present moment. 

 
A group shot of Utthita Parshvasahita from an Ashtanga practice led by the amazing Kathy McNames and Scott York from Yoga Vermont. This was part of an overnight retreat at the Stowe Mountain Ranch Yoga Retrat Center back in September of 2012. Spot me in the front row! One of my favorite Vermont memories. 

A group shot of Utthita Parshvasahita from an Ashtanga practice led by the amazing Kathy McNames and Scott York from Yoga Vermont. This was part of an overnight retreat at the Stowe Mountain Ranch Yoga Retrat Center back in September of 2012. Spot me in the front row! One of my favorite Vermont memories. 

 

I hope this clears it up for some of you and allows you to begin considering if yoga is right for you and which practice offered through Effort & Ease Yoga might benefit you most!