Yoga in Sanskrit is ‘Yuj’ which means to unite or to join. During yoga, the body and mind unite to form a single unit, along with the presence of the soul. The whole body acts like one. Yoga in Bhagwad Gita is said to be in equanimity. It is the ability to control and stay calm in every situation in life.
Patanjali has rightly said that yoga refers to the checking of mental impulses. He divided yoga into eight elements that comprised; Yama, Niyama, Asana, Prayanam, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi.
There are prominently three styles of yoga- Hatha yoga, Vinyasa yoga, and Ashtanga yog. Of many different types of yog practiced in the world, two variations- Hatha and Vinyasa yoga are among the most popular. While they share many of the same poses, Hatha and Vinyasa each have a distinct focus and pacing. Which one is right for you will depend on your yog experience, fitness level, and your goals for learning and practicing this form of physical activity.
Hatha yoga is an umbrella term used to describe many of the common forms of yog taught in the west today. With this type of yog, you move your body slowly and deliberately into different poses that challenge your strength and flexibility, while at the same time focussing on flexibility and mindfulness.
Hatha yog places special emphasis on controlled breathing and posture. Building core strength, which is key to good posture, is another important aspect of this type of yog. It has hundreds of poses, including well-known ones such as Downward facing dog and standing forward bend. Poses are held for several breaths before you move on to the next. Research has shown that hatha yoga has a variety of benefits, including those outlined here.
Benefits of practicing hatha yoga:
A 2013 study in the Journal of Nursing Research found that participation in a single 90-minute session of hatha yog was associated with stress reduction. The same study determined that doing hatha yog regularly can reduce stress even more significantly.
According to a 2018 study, just 12 sessions of regular hatha yog practice significantly decrease the level of anxiety and depression.
Muscle and Joint Flexibility
Numerous studies, including a 2015 study in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science, suggest that participating in hatha yoga improves flexibility in the spine and hamstrings. The researchers also recommended hatha yog for older adults who need help improving the range of motion in their joints.
According to a 2016 study, just 21 days of hatha yog training can lead to improvements in core muscle strength and balance.
Vinyasa yoga is an approach to yoga where you move from one pose directly into another. The vinyasa yoga session has a flow, though the specific poses and the pace of the flow vary from one instructor to another. You may hear that ashtanga yog is interchangeable with Vinyasa. While they are similar in approach, the key difference is that Ashtanga sessions follow the same pattern of poses every time.
Vinyasa on the other hand usually moves from one pose to the next at the teacher’s discretion. The transition coordinates with your breathing. As you exhale or inhale, it gives you the feeling that your breath is moving your body. A fast-paced Vinyasa session can be physically challenging. It improves energy levels of the body promoting relaxation and lowering stress. It offers several other benefits including
Endurance and Strength training
The challenging poses done in quick succession helps to build muscle strength while improving your fitness.
Stability and Balance
While improved balance is a benefit of yog in general, a 2015 study in the journal PLoS One found that for people with low vision, a course of Ashtanga-based yog significantly improved their sense of balance and reduced their fall risk.
A 2013 study in the Journal of Yoga and Physical Therapy shows the fast-paced movements and physical challenges of Vinyasa yog make it an ideal light-intensity cardiovascular exercise.
Lower Stress and Anxiety
In 2012, a study on women undergoing Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) to quit smoking by practicing Vinyasa yog training. It helped to lower stress and anxiety levels. It also helped the participants quit smoking.
Hatha Yoga Or Vinyasa Yoga? Which Suits you?
Hatha and Vinyasa yog inculcates many same poses. The main difference is the pacing, of the classes. Vinyasa moves at a faster pace and requires greater breathing control than hatha yog. Hatha yog allows for more stretching because it’s done more slowly and poses are held for longer.
One way to sum up the difference is to picture Vinyasa yog as a cardio workout and Hatha yog as a stretching and flexibility workout. Like any form of exercise, the type of yoga that’s best suited to you depends on several factors:
Hatha yoga is a better fit if you:
• New to yog.
• Have a lower level of fitness.
• Want to focus on your core strength or posture.
• Prefer a slower and more relaxed pace.
Vinyasa yog may be a better match if you:
• Are familiar with yog poses and how to do them.
• Have a good level of fitness.
• If you want a cardio and strength training workout during your yog session.
• If you like challenges during your yog session.
Hatha and Vinyasa yoga has many similar poses. In their ways, they each emphasize controlled, conscious breathing to help you relax and improve your fitness. The biggest difference between them is the pace at which you change from one pose to the next.
When deciding which yog approach is best for you, keep in mind that you can always try one style and switch to a different one if you find it isn’t well suited to your fitness or wellness goals.