The most popular styles of yoga in the West today derive from Hatha Yoga, including (but not limited to) Bikram, Iyengar, Jivamukti, and Ashtanga or Vinyasa.
Hatha means "force" in Sanskrit, and refers to yoga as a system of physical techniques. Hatha Yoga is mentioned early in both Hindu and Buddhist contexts, with the earliest records of the term "Hatha Yoga" being found in Buddhist Tantric works from the eighth century. However, according to legend, Hatha Yoga was developed by Buddhist/Hindu Saint Matsyendranath (early 10th century), who overheard Shiva describe the principles of yoga and from this, founded Hatha Yoga.
Even though Hatha Yoga is an ancient practice, the most influential work on Hatha Yoga is medieval: Svami Svatmarama’s 15th Century Hatha Yoga Pradipika. Among other things, his work contains descriptions of postures (asanas), breathing exercises (pranayamas), power centres (chakras), and meditation (dhyāna). During India’s movement for independence from the British Empire in the 1920s - 1930s, the interest for Hatha Yoga grew enormously. Hatha Yoga became so popular in this period because it was considered a symbol of national unity, Indian traditions, and freedom, as opposed to imposed ‘Britishness’.
With Hatha Yoga’s popular rise in the 1920s - 1930s, it was also greatly developed in this time period. Some of the most influential revivers and reformers of Hatha Yoga were Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, Paramhansa Yogananda, and Bishnu Ghosh. They all had in common that they focused more on the asana practice that had been done before, and they worked on optimal sequencing and alignment in asanas. However, all of them primarily taught the 84 classical Hatha Yoga asanas.
In Yolistic Integrative Wellness Hatha Yoga classes, we combine deliberate breathing with static postures, which creates a strong foundation for your yoga practice. After some time, you may even find meditation and relaxation by staying in the postures.