The word hatha represents the symbolic union between the sun (ha) and the moon (tha) and the balance between male and female, night and day, hard and soft. Hatha also means ‘forceful’ and relies on the practice of physical exercise to purify and strengthen the body to prepare it for liberation and enlightenment
The word yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root ‘yuj’ to yoke or to unite.
The practice of yoga has evolved over thousands of years. Many branches of yoga have developed to suit different human experiences and temperaments, although they are all bound together by a common aim, to bring peace and stillness to the mind through a balanced and healthy body.
A ‘hatha’ class may typically work towards a particular asana (posture) through a series of preparatory asana that warm up the body toning the muscles and refining the posture on the way.
We may focus on one aspect of asana such as releasing tight shoulders or hips, back bends or inversions.
Another, very popular aspect of the class is a focus on healing the body; we may focus on improving our immunity through a series of postures that encourage the flow of lymph through the body.
As is often the case, the yoga teacher learns from the student as much as the student learns from the teacher, and it is a great spiritual wisdom that the best teachers meet those students who are meant to challenge them.