A few things you should expect from a Hatha Yoga class

If you are looking to give yoga a try, a hatha yoga class is a good place to start.

Look for the hatha yoga classes on the timetable in fitness clubs like David Lloyd’s and Bannatyne’s. Or you might see adverts for hatha sessions in local community centres and church halls.

you should expect from a Hatha Yoga class

In the UK, hatha yoga is seen as a gentle form of practice, compared to the more demanding ashtanga or power yoga. In actual fact hatha yoga is the oldest type of yoga practiced by people all over the world. It is a common framework from which all the more modern interpretations have evolved.

So ashtanga yoga, which is a set series of poses performed in the same order ever time, owes as much of its roots to hatha, as power yoga (a faster series of moves which are more aerobically challenging), bikram yoga (practiced in a very hot room), and freestyle fitness yoga (taught without reference to any traditional pose names). All of them have been developed from the same starting point.

Nevertheless, hatha yoga is now often synonymous with a gentler form of practice suitable for beginners.  If you like it you can progress to a more challenging form later, but wherever you end up you will still see some common features.

Hatha yoga embraces “8 limbs”, or foundations. of which those relating to poses/exercises (asanas), breathing (pranayama), meditation and concentration are most prevalent. Sometimes the more spiritual elements are also represented but many people just seeking the physical side choose not to focus on these.

You can expect doing hatha yoga to improve your flexibility and joint range of motion, but this just one of the physical benefits. Others include:

  • Better cardiovascular efficiency
  • Better respiratory efficiency
  • Increase in breath-holding time
  • A calmer an more relaxed body
  • Better dexterity skills
  • Better posture
  • Better strength and resiliency
  • Higher energy levels

Overall it can just help improve your feeling of well being.

So what you should expect from a hatha yoga class?

Usually the class begins in a seated position with an introduction to deep breathing. Then  some seating poses, perhaps a few twists. Some classes will offer a “sun salutation” which is a sequence of exercises to warm up the body. There will be core strengthening work. You’ll try some forward and side bending poses and hip and chest opening moves. And my favourite, the standing strength exercises. You might break a sweat but this is not an aerobically challenging class.

Throughout the class you might hear names given to the exercises, “Warrior Two” for example (there are three kinds of warrior pose – and this is the second of three). Sometimes the teacher might use the ancient name for the pose (“Virabhadrasana 2“). It can be confusing but don’t let it put you off. Just concentrate on the position of your body rather than what the exercise is called.
you should expect from a Hatha Yoga class

At the end of the class you get the opportunity to lie still and return your attention to your deep breathing. This is a lovely, calming moment and allows you to reflect on what you have achieved.

So that’s what to expect from a hatha yoga class. Give it a try. It is great for your mind and for your body.

Over to you: Have you recently tried a hatha yoga class. What did you think? Have I described it well in general or did you feel differently? Are you thinking of giving it a go? Are there any other questions that you have? Please leave a comment below or send me a message.

If you want a more vigourous type of yoga, read my blog about power yoga and how challenging that can be.

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