What is the difference between Vinyasa and Hatha Yoga?
Vinyasa is a vigorous or flowing style of Hatha Yoga. Vinyasa is actually three hatha yoga poses: plank, cobra and down dog. These poses are used in between most other poses as a way of connecting one pose to the next, intertwining the movements into a very yang (active) style of yoga practice. This type of Hatha Yoga is called Vinyasa yoga or vinyasa flow yoga. Yet Hatha Yoga can be practiced in many other ways as in Yin Yoga, Restorative yoga and Iyengar yoga and many innumerable other styles as people continue to innovate.
Hatha Yoga vs. Vinyasa
I have been asked which is better, Hatha Yoga vs. Vinyasa Yoga? Well, that simply depends on your mood. There may be days you feel like a stronger more vigorous yoga practice and there may be other days you feel maybe a little more like yin yoga. If you are really listening to your body, you will feel the incessant changes happening, some more dramatic than others, and then steer your yoga practice in a conducive direction. It’s the ‘listening’ to what your body is saying that really matters here. This listening can be applied to all styles (and all relationships) empowering them all. The listening not only steers one to the appropriate degree, it also quiets the mind and that’s the jackpot! That quiet mind opens up a world of possibilities and that world is called Yoga!
Understanding vinyasa yoga
When your mind is quiet, you can truly relax. This relaxing is the opposite of stressing, making this the healthiest thing we could do as now we are understanding the huge role stress plays in our overall health. When your mind is quiet, you can tune into what your partner (your body) is saying in that language of sensation. Then, an exercise really starts to become healing because you are honoring what you are feeling which is why we have feelings – ‘to guide us.’ Yet even more enticing is when our minds become quiet and we are no longer feeding mental energy and unconscious loyalty to the incessant, unnecessary, redundant, thoughts that are constantly filling our heads. Distracting us from all we are experiencing while keeping us locked in stress-inducing habit patterns. The universal law is ‘if you give it food it becomes strong and if you don’t give it food it starves and dies.’ We are no longer feeding mental habit patterns. We are actually killing the enemy, but the enemy is not outside of us, it is actually inside of us. The enemy is ignorance and ‘listening’ is the beginning of ‘awareness.’
So when it comes to Hatha Yoga or Vinyasa Yoga, what really matters is the listening! This is the first step in meditation - focus and concentration - and if this is not a meditation, it is not a yoga practice.