The Difference Between Ashtanga Yoga and Hatha Yoga.

For most people considering taking up yoga, the different styles can be confusing. After all, in 5,000 years there are bound to be quite a few changes.

“What the difference is between the yoga styles” is a question that is often thought but rarely answered. This is because individual yoga studios tend to teach just one or maybe two styles of yoga.

Here at Wicklow Yoga we teach Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga.

Ashtanga Vs’ Hatha

It is not a case of Ashtanga being better than Hatha yoga or vica versa. Both are excellent for body and mind. It is more a case of which style will suit you. Without going into the full history of each I will endeavor to explain what you can expect from each style.

What is Hatha Yoga?

Hatha (Ha – Sun, Tha – Moon) is not actually one distinct style. It concentrates largely on the Asana (positions) which are the third of eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga. In general in Ireland, Hatha yoga tends to be an umbrella term given to slower paced classes. The emphasis is on the positions (asana). In a Hatha yoga class you can expect to hold those positions for a longer time than with Ashtanga. There will be some focus on breathing while holding the Asana. Most classes end with a relaxation or meditation segment.

What is Ashtanga Yoga?

For a fuller description of Ashtanga yoga have a look at our Ashtanga page. To explain what you can expect in an Ashtanga yoga class I will keep it brief here. Ashtanga tends to be a considerably quicker paced than Hatha. This is because the emphasis is not just focussed on the individual Asana (positions). Breathing control (Pranayama) both within the asana and when transitioning between positions is important. This is particularly true of an Ashtanga Vinyasa class. Ashtanga Vinyasa is a dynamic and flowing form of yoga with smooth transitions from one pose to the next. You can expect to break a sweat (or glow if you prefer) during an Ashtanga class, particularly in the earlier stages before you have mastered the synergy of movement and breathing. Again, classes generally include a relaxation / meditation segment.

Which style of Yoga would suit me?

If you are looking for a slow paced yoga class then a version of Hatha yoga is probably what you are looking for.

If however you are looking for a slightly more challenging class, then Ashtanga yoga is for you. Power Yoga, which came into being in America in the 1990’s is based on Ashtanga yoga. Power yoga, like Hatha Yoga does not encompass the eight limbs of Ashtanga though.

With both forms of yoga you build up slowly. No yoga teacher is ever going to tell you to push yourself beyond what you are presently capable of.

If you are not sure then why not give us a ring and ask for advice based on your own personal circumstances.

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