About Hatha Yoga
"The whole purpose of Hatha yoga is to purify and control our senses. It is the ultimate science of helping us discover what lies behind the apparent reality of body and mind." - Pattabhi Jois
Yoga refers to a state of consciousness where the sense of separation between subject and object dissolves, and all one is left with is the sense of oneness. This expanded feeling produces a euphoric state where thought, time and space no longer exist.
Classical yoga, as defined by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras, is that state achieved where fluctuations of the mind stop - "Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodhah". By first concentrating the mind on a single object over an extended period of time as is done in meditation, eventually the mind through an act of grace can stop entirely. Once stopped, a tremendous energy springs forth as a natural consequence, and one enters into a state called samadhi.
Tantric Yoga takes a different approach. It involves working directly with energy in such a way that a tremendous surge of energy springs forth, and the mind stops as a natural consequence. This surge is referred to as kundalini awakening, and it can be achieved through the proper and regular practice of hatha yoga, which focuses on specific physical exercises and postures (asanas) as well as breathing techniques to control vital energy (pranayama), both of which represent the third and fourth rung of Patanjali's 8-limb Raja Yoga. Hatha yoga also includes other means to manipulate and channel vital energy, namely mudras (energy seals) and bandhas (energy locks).
Initially, one’s hatha yoga practice brings a keener awareness of the physical body. The exercises keep one’s body young, dynamic, supple, strong, and healthy. All yoga postures, combined with proper breathing, improve the circulatory, endocrine, and nervous systems. Digestion and assimilation are also stimulated as well as the elimination of toxins. The lymph system, the body’s defense mechanism, is thus far better able to prevent the onset of illness and will accelerate recovery when symptoms begin.
By maintaining the physical body at its optimum level, the practitioner can then better experience the more subtle energies at play and work with them in a way that brings about this euphoric state of consciousness.
La Source offers several distinct hatha yoga approaches. Ashtanga yoga and Vinyasa Krama yoga come from the Krishnamacharya lineage. They involve the coordination of the breath with movement. Iyengar yoga comes from the same lineage but its focus is more on proper alignment with the use of cork bricks, cloth belts, bolsters and blankets. The Sivananda style focuses on relaxed holding of postures for a sustained duration - "stirum sukham" (steady, easy) as stated in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
While we highlight the difference between these approaches regarding asana practice, each approach is a complete hatha yoga system that has different takes on pranayama and meditation as well. In addition, La Source offers therapeutic yoga such as Iyengar Restorative, Lower Back Yoga, Yin Yoga, Hormone yoga and Pregnancy Yoga that are not focused on the awakening of kundalini but are still very beneficial on a physical level.