About Yoga

There are many types of yoga, (Raja Yoga, Tantra Yoga, Bhakti Yoga are but a few) but Hatha Yoga is the primary type of yoga concerned with strengthening and maintaining a healthy body. Under the Hatha Yoga banner there are again many different styles and these continue to evolve especially in the west (e.g. Astanga Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, Vinyasa Flow, Anusara Yoga, etc etc).

Hatha Yoga evolved from Tantra Yoga and was developed around the 12th & 13th centuries AD by Goraksanatha, as learned from his teacher Matsyendra. Fundamental to Hatha yoga is the principle that a strong body is needed for i) enabling a good energy flow within the body, ii) aiding meditation and iii) for the state of samadhi (enlightenment) as the latter has a powerful effect on the nervous system and body.

In the 15th century AD one of the main text, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika was compiled by Yogi Swatmarama, which contains information on; satkarma (purification procedures), asana (postures), pranayama (breath control), cakras (energy centres), kundalini (serpent power), bandhas (locks), kriyas (techniques), shakti (goddess force), nadis (channels) & mudras (hand gestures).

During a class we will tend to focus only on the asanas (the physical postures that most people think of when they think of yoga) which promote strength and flexibility of the body. When performing asanas we focus our attention on the body and the breath, which enables the mind to be stilled and can reduce stress and aid relaxation.

Additionally, people often find that when they start yoga they become more mindful of their bodies and the environment and consequently many people choose to reduce the amount they smoke, they drink and the animal products they eat and start eating more wholesome foods and exercising more. This however is not a pre-requirement for starting yoga and is just another  of the benefits of yoga.

Many people who come to yoga classes also choose to start meditation, practicing in their own homes or work places on a regular basis. This can provide many benefits, including reducing stress and making people more mindful of their surroundings, what they say, hear and how they are feeling.

If you would like to learn more about the other aspects of Hatha yoga, please see Links  page for recommendations.