October 5, 2021

Hatha Yoga 101: Everything You Need to Know

Yoga is well-known for its ability improve flexibility and balance, as well as providing a relaxing yet challenging way to relax. Because it only requires minimal equipment, yoga is a great choice. There are many types of yoga that offer different benefits. Hatha yoga, an ancient practice that is easy to learn and provides a good introduction to the asanas.

We asked yoga teachers to share their knowledge about Hatha Yoga, including its benefits and what to expect in a class.


  • Nathalia Basso, RYT 200-trained yoga instructor and owner Nathalia Fit, is Nathalia Basso.
  • Tory Schaefer, the national director for yoga operations at Life Time, is Tory Schaefer.

What Is Hatha Yoga?

Hatha is an ancient practice that has a deep history. Hatha yoga is the “original” flow of yoga, with “Hatha” referring to bodily activities. It dates from the 11th to 13th centuries and is based on vedic yoga (or ancient yoga).

The sun and the moon are the symbols of this discipline.”Ha” means sun and tha the moon. The word Hatha is the union of opposites. Tory Schaefer, a yoga instructor, explains that physical yoga is based on this idea, the union between opposites.

This type of yoga has changed over time.According to Basso, the phrase “beginning” yoga lessons now has a variety of connotations and is extensively used. However, you can also find advanced hatha classes.

Best For: Beginners and Low Impact

Hatha yoga encompasses a wide range of flow-based yoga sessions available in a studio or gym. “Hatha yoga classes at most facilities will be a beginner’s level version of a flow or vinyasa class. These classes tend to be slower and use different breathing techniques. There are variations in the length of the holds and the repetition of individual poses, rather than sequential sequences. According to Basso, the positions can be linked together or not to form a continuous vinyasa flow.

What to Expect During a Hatha Yoga Class

Schaefer says that hatha yoga classes are slower-paced and hold poses longer to help students focus on the union of opposites.

Modern Hatha Yoga classes are usually 60 minutes long. Many poses you would perform in a vinyasa yoga class can also be performed in a Hatha class. Basso explains that you might find yourself doing downward dog variations, warrior variants, child’s poses, triangle, pyramid and so on.

Ask the yoga studio what kind of classes they offer and what type of hatha you can expect.

Benefits of Hatha Yoga

Yoga is well-known for its ability to bring balance, stability and flexibility. Our experts say that it has some unique benefits.

  • Excellent for beginners: “Hatha can be a beginner-friendly class because the pace is slower and the poses may be repeated,” Basso says.
  • Balance and stability: Slower movements, repeated and practiced at a slower pace, are necessary to build stability and balance.
  • Focus and clarity: It is important to learn how to slow down and perform each pose with care. This will help you focus inwardly and stay focused.
  • Calmness: Schaefer says that you leave feeling lighter and brighter.
  • Accessible: “Props or equipment beyond your mat is not necessary, but modern Hatha allows for the use blocks, straps and blankets for comfort, accessibility, and ease of access,” Basso says.
  • Schaefer defines awareness as “The ability to feel more present in your body and life.”
  • Improved sleep: Yoga can improve the quality of sleep for people who have trouble sleeping.
  • It can reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Increased flexibility: It can increase flexibility and functional fitness through regular participation.
  • Mobility: Schaefer says mobility means “greater flexibility throughout the whole body and mind.”

Safety Considerations

There is always a risk in any exercise program. There are contraindications to all yoga poses. Before you begin any type of yoga practice, consult your doctor. Basso says it is also important to inform your teacher about any injuries or conditions you might have. The risks associated with Hatha are low-impact and beginner-friendly.

Yoga should not hurt. If something happens in class, don’t stop. Schaefer adds that teachers may be able offer modifications to your class if you have an injury.

At Home vs. In-Studio

Setup and setting are the most important differences between in-studio and at-home Hatha. The yoga studio environment is a large part of modern yoga, as well as the practice with other students. Basso explains that if you are practicing at home, choose a quiet space and set the mood with essential oils, music, lighting, props and incense.

Schaeffer states that there is a major difference between practicing in a class setting and at home. “It is too easy to get distracted at home, or stop practicing after a few minutes. The community supports students in their learning by sharing energy and supporting them to move further than they would on their own. The teacher can also provide more personal support.

Traditional vs. Modern Hatha Yoga

The term “hatha” is used to describe all types of yoga. Basso says that there are two types of hatha yoga: one is traditional, which includes certain practices, and the other is modern hatha.

Mantra chanting and meditation are common additions to Hatha yoga.It also includes standing, sitting and finishing asanas. Specific chakras should be stimulated by the asanas. Hatha yoga today focuses more on the physical side of things than the mythical and spiritual aspects.

What to Wear to a Hatha Yoga Class

Hatha yoga requires you to wear flexible and mobile clothing. You will be moving every part of your body during hatha yoga. Therefore, wear something that allows you to move freely. Schaefer says that if your shirt is too big, it will fall over your head when you do a downward-facing dog.

Basso recommends wearing what you feel most comfortable in. Basso suggests that you wear whatever fabric is comfortable moving in, even though Hatha Yoga has a slower pace. She says that there’s nothing worse than feeling squeezed or having to rip a pair of pants in a yoga class.

The Takeaway

Hatha yoga is a great choice if you’re new to yoga, or if you want to get the most out of yoga. It will help you build stability, flexibility and mobility, which are all vital elements of functional fitness. This is a great introduction to yoga.