What is Hatha Vinyasa Yoga?

Amelia Phillips

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I asked Patty Kikos, yoga teacher from Empowered Healings, to enlighten us more on what to expect in a yoga class, and she has shared it with us here.

One of the translations for the word yoga is “union”. If we took it a step further, we could extend that to the total balance of mind, body and spirit. Be brave and take another step forward and maybe you can add your own personal interpretation of what that might mean for you and your current journey in life.

If you were to think back to what may have brought balance to your life 5 maybe even 10 years ago and then fast forward to today, chances are you may have slowed down the pace a bit, but not necessarily the intensity.
In a hatha vinyasa class, when you learn to link your movement with your breath, and after adding an intention for your practice, you are practicing the art of vinyasa. An intention can be something as simple as focusing on your breath instead of your wayward thoughts, using a positive affirmation with each breath you take, or even offering up your practice to something or someone other than yourself.

The word Hatha is a Sanskrit (an Ancient Indian language) term for the balance between the sun and the moon. These are 2 polarities that exist within all of us when we think of either our right or our left side, our top or our bottom, our strength versus our flexibility, our mind compared to our emotions, and even our sense of surrender compared to our quest for control.

In order to maintain the dynamic flow of a class that links movement, breath and intention, we activate what is known as ocean breath or ujai breath. This literally means that we inhale and exhale just through the nose whilst simultaneously making a soft sound using the back of the throat.

The reasoning behind this is that our mouths don’t necessarily have the same filtering system as our nose does, and in order to prepare the body for a practice that will continuously keep the body moving, we need to ensure that our ligaments and muscles are warm enough to endure the constant physical movement.

In a Hatha Vinyasa class, expect to move a little beyond your physical comfort zone, perhaps a little beyond your emotional and mental comfort zone as well. At the beginning of the class, we will always set an intention for the day / week and then do a few breathing exercises to balance the right and the left hemispheres of our brain.

At the end, just before the final deep relaxation when we come to lie on our back, we allow ourselves a few minutes to sit cross legged in a meditative position. This is where a particular style of meditation is taught, or sometimes it is simply a chance for us to allow our mind a few soft moments of contemplation and reflection before we surrender into that final resting pose.

“Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.”
–B.K.S. Iyengar

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5 responses to “What is Hatha Vinyasa Yoga?”

  1. PeterJ says:


    I love my Hatha yoga, I find it better than other styles because more focus is put into holding the position which means that I get more out of it.

  2. Amelia Burton says:

    Hi Peter,

    Thats a good point, holding the positions for extended periods really allows you to settle in and get a deep stretch. I also love the focus on breathing…

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