Hatha Yoga Vs. Vinyasa

Shot of young woman practicing yoga in spinal twist pose with their hands joined. Young people doing yoga workout at gym.
Choose a yoga style based on your preferences and goals. (Image: jacoblund/iStock/Getty Images)

When you think of yoga, you're probably thinking of Hatha. Although there are plenty of yoga studios that offer Hatha yoga classes alongside more exotic-sounding practices, such as Ashtanga or Kundalini, the truth is that Hatha yoga is actually an umbrella term for the physical practice of yoga.

Vinyasa, too, isn't a specific type of yoga, like Bikram or Anusara. Rather, Vinyasa is a stylistic approach to practicing yoga — it means to link a series of asanas, or poses, together by flowing from one to the next. Ashtanga and Power yoga are considered Vinyasa-style yogas.

Technically speaking, you can practice Hatha yoga in a Vinyasa style; however, a yoga studio might differentiate between the two when offering classes.

The Similarities

Hatha yoga is generally considered a slower form of yoga; if you see a class described as "Hatha," it's probably gentle and relaxing. Though Vinyasa is much more flowing than hatha, one thing that won't change is the poses that you do in classes. In both a Hatha-style and Vinyasa, you'll often find yourself in common poses such as Warrior I and II, Downward-Facing Dog, Bridge and Triangle.

A young woman demonstrating various yoga poses.
Downward facing dog is a staple in both vinyasa and hatha yoga. (Image: jentakespictures/iStock/Getty Images)

The Differences

The main difference between a Hatha and Vinyasa yoga is the pace and the goal of the practice. Hatha yoga, according to Yoga Journal, is designed to align and calm your mind, body and spirit. Although you might break a little bit of a sweat, depending on your fitness level, this isn't a workout that's meant to get your heart racing. There's a misconception that Hatha yoga could be "boring" because of its gentle pace; however, it's important to remember the purpose of focusing on breathing and channeling your energy.

Vinyasa yoga, on the other hand, is a bit faster-paced, as it requires coordinating your movement with your breath, flowing from one pose to the next. Vinyasa classes often repeat series of poses and often involve increasing body heat — and sweat — and building strength.

Making a Choice

You might feel the need to pick between practicing Hatha or Vinyasa yoga; however, you don't have to make that decision. Both Hatha and Vinyasa have their place in regular yoga practice, and the experienced yoga will practice both types regularly.

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