Why Hatha and Ashtanga Yoga make the perfect partnership for your Yoga Teacher Training course

Yoga Teacher

Hatha and Ashtanga yoga are often combined as part of a yoga teacher training program. While Hatha yoga is the most commonly practiced, classical form of yoga and perfect for beginners, Ashtanga yoga on the other hand is a more structured and dynamic kind of yoga. However, both these styles of yoga lay emphasis on the physical aspect of yoga and hence are often combined together as part of your yoga teacher training course.

This blog will discuss the nuances of Hatha and Ashtanga yoga and how their subtle similarities make these two styles complement each other as part of a yoga teacher training course.

What is Hatha yoga?

Hatha yoga is a gentle and slow kind of yoga and is considered apt for beginners in yoga. A typical Hatha yoga class includes standing and seated poses that not only help to strengthen your body but also increase flexibility.

Hatha yoga class is quite a versatile class that can be manoeuvred depending on the time of the day and your teacher. For instance, a morning Hatha yoga session can be made invigorating by including some energising poses while if the same class is conducted in the evening hours, Hatha yoga can be done as a winding down activity and would include more calmer seated poses than standing stretches. The poses can include long stretches and static poses during the evening hours so as to allow the body to relax and rest.

There are many places like Rishikesh in India where as a beginner you can join a Hatha yoga course in Rishikesh and learn the basics of yoga.

What is Ashtanga yoga?

Ashtanga yoga or the 8-limbed yoga originated in Mysore and was developed by K Pattabhi Jois who established the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute in 1948. This dynamic flow yoga follows a structured pattern of sequences that flow one into other. The sun salutations which form the crux of the practice help to warm up the body. The subsequent standing poses, the seated postures and the culminating inversions form the entire sequence of the practice. Ashtanga yoga practice lays emphasis on the breath that serves as a guide helping yogis flow from one posture into another as part of the sun salutations. Also, one stays in these poses for five breaths before moving on to the next pose.

Compared to Hatha yoga, Ashtanga yoga is a physically demanding practice with a strong emphasis on the pose and the breath. The students are engaged and immersed in the practice in such a way that there is little space for external distractions. Astanga yoga creates an oasis where the outside world seems even far away.

Ashtanga yoga is a six-series yoga comprising of the Primary series, an intermediate series and four advanced series. However, most Ashtanga yoga classes typically focus on acing the Primary series.

Rishikesh is considered the “yoga capital of the world” and reputed yoga schools like Yoga Vidya School can help you learn the nuances of this dynamic flow of Ashtanga yoga in Rishikesh. 

Now, although seemingly different in terms of rhythms and sequences, Ashtanga yoga is often combined with Hatha yoga as part of a yoga teacher training course like the most popular 200 Hour Yoga teacher training in Rishikesh.

Now, let’s delve into the many similarities that make these two styles of yoga perfect partners in a yoga teacher training course.

Hatha yoga and Ashtanga yoga are both Hatha yoga practices

Yoga originated in India some 5000 years ago. Over the past several millennia, yoga evolved as part of a practice that includes physical asanas, pranayama, meditation, chanting mantras and other forms. It was Sage Patanjali who around 400 AD wrote the elaborative 196 yoga sutras. These sutras are one of the earliest explanations of the Hatha yoga practice which was refined by many yoga masters in subsequent times. Ashtanga yoga is just another modern form of Hatha yoga that was popularised by K Pattabhi Jois in Mysore.

The yoga postures are similar

Ashtanga yoga is a dynamic flow yoga with respect to Hatha yoga. However, there are many yoga postures that are common between the two forms of yoga. For instance, poses like the triangle pose, warrior poses 1 and 2 as well as the downward facing dog is practiced in both the Hatha yoga and Ashtanga yoga classes. Similarly, sun salutations which are taught as part of a Hatha yoga class are actually the base of any Ashtanga yoga class.

What differs between these two styles of yoga practice is that one spends more time holding a pose in Hatha yoga where more focus is laid on achieving the correct alignment. On the contrary, in an Ashtanga yoga class breath is held for a mere 5 seconds.

Both styles of yoga have room for modifications

Both styles of yoga can be accommodative beginners and hence modifications are introduced. Although, Ashtanga yoga follows the same set of sequences every single time, still, the poses can be tailored to every practitioner’s needs. Hatha yoga is gentle and slow odes cater to beginners’ needs with ample room for modifications. Ashtanga yoga can also be performed with alterations, especially in case of an injury.

Breath forms the basis of both styles of yoga

Breath is a strong focus area in both Hatha yoga and the Ashtanga yoga practice. In Ashtanga yoga, breath serves as a guide helping practitioners move in and out of each set of poses in a seamless way, albeit with a lot of practice. In Hatha yoga also, breath serves as the guiding path where moving into a pose is associated with inhaling breath while loosening out from a pose is usually associated with exhalations.

Both classes end in Savasana

Savasana or lying down in a corpse pose marks the end of a class in both Hatha yoga and Ashtanga yoga classes. The difference may be due to the duration of relaxation and whether it is a guided form of relaxation.

Final thoughts

Ashtanga yoga is an evolved form of Hatha yoga. So, anyone keen on learning Ashtanga yoga needs to learn Hatha yoga basics before moving on to the more challenging Ashtanga yoga practice. Hence, a yoga teacher training course often combines the slow and gentle Hatha yoga practice with the more physically demanding Ashtanga yoga practice to mould an individual’s mind and body in a 360 degree manner.

Author Bio:

Name : Yoga Vidya School

Yoga Vidya School is one of the best yoga teacher training school in Rishikesh India , provides help and steering by giving the self-discipline and spiritual tools that helps you to grow and go deeper into your inner self. It is a place to immerse in serious authentic yoga practice led by best yoga teachers of India, in an energetic environment created for transformation through Yogic Movements, Mudras, Meditations, Philosophy and Spiritual Lifestyle. 



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