The Different Systems of Hatha Yoga

In response to an endemic interest in fitness and health, yoga’s popularity has soared, giving rise to a number of yoga schools. Sleuthing through the library of lineages can be intimidating for a beginning yoga student. Classes, instructors, and techniques vary; what does not vary is yoga’s goals: to calm the mind and to cultivate a state of alert relaxation.

The most popular of the yoga schools is hatha yoga. This chapter introduces different styles of hatha yoga and teachers who brought hatha yoga to the West. Also introduced is the asana, the physical or tangible principle of yoga that is widely practiced in the West.


Hatha yoga is the most popular form of yoga in the United States.

Yoga in the West has been influenced by several Indian yoga masters. The most well known is Sri Krishnamacharya.

Several of the masters who brought yoga to the West studied under Sri Krishnamacharya before developing their own approaches to hatha yoga.

Approaches to hatha yoga vary. Some are more gentle, others more rigorous.

The prevalence of yoga in the West has encouraged a marriage of traditional hatha yoga styles with newer styles, many of which accommodate modern lifestyles.

Asana are the backbone of hatha yoga.

The breath is the invisible thread that weaves the asana together.

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