What's the Difference Between Hatha and Vinyasa Yoga?

Whether you're a newbie or an experienced yogi, there're always new things to learn in your practice. The average person doesn't know the difference between different types of yoga, like hatha and vinyasa. Are you looking to deepen your practice? Or become a stronger, more flexible yogi? Your practice will improve when you learn which type of yoga suits you best. The purpose for your practice is affected by the type of yoga you're doing. There are many factors that influence your flow. Speed, poses, and breathing vary in each type of yoga. To learn about the difference between hatha and vinyasa yoga, keep reading.

What is Hatha Yoga?

The trademark of hatha yoga is the longer length of the poses. In a class, the instructor may have you hold each pose for up to 60 seconds. When practicing at home, you could hold them even longer. Some people assume that hatha yoga is "gentle" or "easy". This is far from the truth. The longer you hold a pose, the harder your body must work to maintain it. Hatha builds strength, focus, and patience. Since the speed gets slowed down, your breathing must accommodate it. Hatha forces you to pay more attention to your breath and lean into each exhale.

Benefits of Hatha Yoga

Hatha yoga is excellent for de-stressing and getting balanced. We often feel overwhelmed by our lives. Work pulls us in one direction, family and personal lives in another. Through your practice, you restore your balance. Your concentration is deepened, also known as Dharana. It's no easy task to hold long poses and stay focused. The brain naturally wants to drift to whatever is causing the most stress. The word "hatha" means the sun and moon; the masculine and feminine. We force ourselves to work hard, but we must also learn to soothe our minds and be gentle with ourselves. As a result of practicing hatha yoga, you will become more flexible, stronger, and calmer. You'll have a stronger sense of balance in your life. And, you'll feel more prepared to approach challenges with peace and patience.

Hatha Poses

The most popular hatha yoga pose is the downward facing dog. In this pose, you begin in tabletop position. Flip your feet under so they're face-down. With flat feet and hands, lift your hips upwards. This will cause your head and shoulders to tilt downwards. Your body takes the shape of a mountain peak. There's lots of flexibility in this pose. You can step your feet closer to your hands or farther away. As you hold the pose, breathe deeply and notice how each body part feels. Other hatha poses: bridge pose, tree pose, and locust pose.

What is Vinyasa Yoga?

Vinyasa is not the opposite of hatha. They're each a sibling in the family of yoga, both with unique traits and benefits. Where hatha focuses on holding static poses, vinyasa focuses on movement or flow. It works the cardiovascular system so many people practice vinyasa for their daily exercise. Although you spend less time in each pose, some say it requires more skill than hatha yoga. Besides holding the pose, you must transfer from one pose to the next. Without understanding how to do that movement right, you risk injury. Vinyasa yoga teaches you to breathe with rhythm. Each inhale and each exhale is strategically done with the movements.

Benefits of Vinyasa Yoga

With consistent practice, vinyasa tones the muscles and builds strength. You will notice an improved agility and coordination. Since your cardiovascular system gets involved, you may notice vinyasa makes you sweat. This is a great function of our bodies and is very healthy. It also improves your overall yoga practice. Vinyasa demands you focus on proper alignment and technique. This improvement transfers into all your practices. Many vinyasa yogis notice an improvement in their body image and self-esteem. It could be due to the body becoming fitter. Or, the improved mental state from practicing yoga in general. Vinyasa is beneficial for people who feel scared to make moves in their life. It teaches you to act with intention and breathe confidently. For people who can't sit still, vinyasa is more satisfying than hatha yoga.

Vinyasa Poses

While vinyasa certainly has key poses, the practice is in the flow. The movement between poses is just as important as the poses themselves. One popular pose in vinyasa is Upward Facing Dog. Laying on your stomach, bring your hands to either side of your ribs, palm down. Push through your palms lifting your abdomen upwards. Your face should be looking straight ahead; the bottoms of your feet should be facing up. This pose is an excellent backstretch and easily flows into other positions. Other vinyasa poses are plank pose, cobra pose, four-limbed staff pose.

Which One is Better?

To be a well-rounded yoga student, you should practice both hatha and vinyasa. If your intention is to excel at yoga and one day become a teacher, it's important to do both. But, for the average person practicing yoga, assess your needs. What is your goal for your practice? In some periods of your life, you may feel out of control. You may be wishing everything would slow down so you could think clearer. Hatha yoga gives you this time to embrace your inner peace. If you want to build confidence and strength, learning vinyasa could be better. You'll learn to live with intention and embrace challenges. You must decide for yourself which practice better suits your needs. Both hatha and vinyasa are excellent practices with many benefits. One is not superior to the other.

Do You Know the Difference Between Hatha and Vinyasa Yoga?

If you're still questioning how each type of yoga is different, give them both a try. After taking a class in each, you'll witness the difference between hatha and vinyasa. Just because these yoga types are different, it doesn't mean one is better than the other. Decide what your intention for your practice is and then choose the type that best suits it. For more ways to deepen your practice and expand your yoga repertoire, check out the blog.

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