We've been skipping around our local studios lately trying to mix things up a bit and broaden our practice. It was tonight's practice at EvolveMovement Studio with Laura Nickerson (ERYT 200hr & RYT 500), that reminded us we really do have a soft spot in our hearts for Hatha.
Like most practices under the now big umbrella of "yoga", Hatha seeks to align the body in a way that frees the energy through the spine by utilizing postures (asana), breathing techniques (prana), and meditation, but the root of the Sandskrit word "Hatha" actually translates to Sun (Ha) and Moon (Tha). Thus, Hatha yoga is known for uniting pairs of opposites in the human system.
Maybe that's why we like it so much? The sense of balance it provides. Goodness know we need it!
These days however, hatha is most often used to describe gentle, basic classes with no flow between poses. A “hatha” class could likely be a slow-paced stretching class with some simple breathing exercises and possibly even some seated meditation.
Laura’s class was, well, not like that.
Her knowledge of the practice, modification options, and hands on adjustments (we LOVE gentle adjustments!), really got us hooked. Her jokes and energetic disposition are pretty catchy too! Every once and awhile she’ll bounce to the middle of the room for a quick demonstration. But even with the laughs, her focus is on each individual’s capabilities and/or limitations. Her philosophy is to have each student "claim their experience".
"I want everyone to practice according to their own bodies, their own needs. I provide the guidance, but they know themselves best. It’s my hope they claim their experience, that they make each practice their own”.
We like that philosophy and intend to add the class to our repertoire. A healthy dose of Hatha is just what we we’re looking for, and we certainly like Laura’s delivery.
Although some say Hatha has a more serious or traditional approach and there’s little room for humor, and some say Hatha is a slower less flowing practice, we found this particular class to be neither. It was fun, and practical, and quite the workout if we do say so ourselves. So the question is, is it still Hatha?
Heck yeah, it’s Hatha!