So What is Yoga?

 

This is a big question. The physical forms of yoga normally found in a studio or gym (Ashtanga Vinyasa, Vinyasa Flow, Flow, Power, Yin....) all come under the umbrella term Hatha yoga. This is the yoga of 'forceful effort' - or the yoga that focuses on the physical practice of asana (postures) that are synchronised with the breath and practiced within an ethical framework to strengthen, and tone the physical body, with benefits extending to the mind and the emotional self. Eventually, a practitioner can reconnect with his or her own, inner teacher.

Due to it's physical nature, Hatha yoga yields many physical benefits as well as the more mental, emotional, spiritual or esoteric. This physical focus has made Hatha accessible and popular across the globe. 

NB. Confusingly, gyms and studios sometimes use the term Hatha to describe the slower styles of physical yoga...

From a broader perspective, the physical Hatha yoga is in fact, just one of several methods of yoga. 

Other methods include Jnana (yoga of knowledge), Mantra (yoga of repetition) Karma (yoga of selfless action), Bhakti (yoga of devotion)...and more. Each of these methods employs different techniques. The overriding objective of all these methods, however, is a common one: to silence the internal chatter and constant movement of the mind so that we can connect with our calm, peaceful, inner teacher and guide.