Vinyasa and Hatha yoga can both help you relax and improve your strength and flexibility. The origins of these practices differ, and the poses and techniques are different. Hatha yoga originated in 15th century India and was originally used to purify the mind before beginning a meditation practice. Vinyasa yoga is faster paced and it places the focus on how well the asanas flow together.

Due to marketing, Vinyasa yoga has gained more popularity in the West than Hatha yoga. This is the style of yoga that most people are familiar with. It is reputed to tone muscles and increase strength while remaining a fun, almost dance-like practice. While Vinyasa yoga is more popular than Hatha yoga, is it better?

What is Hatha Yoga?

Newcomers to yoga often find that Hatha yoga is easier to practice. It’s slower and less intense, making it easier to keep up with the instructor. Pranayama, the combination of breath and movement, is an essential part of a yoga practice. Students of Hatha yoga will often find they can easily control their breathing during practice sessions. In Hatha yoga, poses are held for multiple breaths. Vinyasa yoga requires a pose change on each breath, making it harder for new yogis to keep up.

Hatha yoga aims to help you concentrate and open your nadis. These are your energy channels that bring healing energy into your body. In Indian tradition, these channels can increase spiritual awareness when they are properly opened. The benefits of Hatha yoga can be enhanced by diffusing essential oils.

The word “hatha” translates to “forceful.” Hatha yoga may seem gentle in comparison to Vinyasa, but it works wonderfully to align our musculoskeletal structure and balance our masculine and feminine energies.

What is Vinyasa Yoga?

Vinyasa yoga is more demanding physically and mentally than Hatha. Poses change quickly and you have to be knowledgeable of the asanas to keep up. Vinyasa yoga increases blood flow and works the cardiovascular system to create heat, making it more intense. Like the ebb and flow of the ocean, Vinyasa yoga is constant, rhythmic, and powerful. It can boost your confidence on days when you are feeling down and help you develop a positive self-image.

Vinyasa yoga serves as a great cleanser for your internal body. Ashtanga believed that Vinyasa yoga thins the blood, thus creating a lighter, healthier body that can move more freely. Vinyasa has evolved since its creation, branching off into many schools and sub-styles.

Which Style Is Best for Your Health?

Yoga is unquestionably good for you. Increased flexibility, better heart health, even better digestion– all are associated with regular yoga practice.   Yoga helps you burn calories by increasing your heart rate. Hatha yoga burns calories at a lower rate than Vinyasa yoga. Hatha yoga can help you build lean muscle that will boost your metabolism and help you burn fat. Vinyasa yoga can also help you tone up and it burns a lot of calories during each session. Both forms of yoga can help you achieve a healthy, fit body.

Vinyasa yoga can be dangerous if performed recklessly. Many poses require a high level of flexibility and experience in order to do them safely. Starting with Hatha yoga can help you learn the basics and increase your flexibility before starting a more rigorous practice.

Hatha or Vinyasa?

Should you do Vinyasa yoga or Hatha yoga? The answer is both. Well-rounded students know the benefits of both styles and strive to master the details of Vinyasa and Hatha. A good yogi recognizes when she needs movement and when she needs to be still. Varying your practice with these two styles works with your constantly changing body to help you grow in the best ways.

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