What Is The Difference Between Hatha, Ashtanga and Kriya Yoga?

By pal | September 30, 2008
Hatha, Ashtanga & Kriya Yoga Differences

Hatha, Ashtanga and Kriya Yoga are just different forms of practicing yoga, but the basic core remains the same in all the three forms.

Hatha Yoga: Hatha yoga was a form of yoga introduced by Yogi Swatmarama in the 15th century in India. Hatha yoga considers ‘ha’ (sun) and ‘tha’ (moon), i.e. the two opposing parts of the body (front and back, left and right etc.), and the ‘yolking’ of them (yoga). Of the original yoga or the eight- fold yoga as proposed by Patanjali in his ‘Yoga Sutra’. Hatha yoga deploys just two—those of posture (asana) and breathing (pranayama). There are more than 200 hatha yoga postures or asanas, and these have their variations as well. Through the practice of Hatha Yoga, your body becomes supple, strong, flexible and balanced. Your organs are well supplied with blood. Pranayama (science of breathing) teaches breathing techniques and is an essential part of yoga. Pranayama helps in centering the mind and improves concentration and mental well being. Hatha Yoga is the most commonly practiced form of yoga because of its emphasis on physical exercise.

Ashtanga Yoga: Yogi K. Patabhi Jois introduced a version of yoga called Ashtanga Yoga which is a more power-packed version of the traditional Hatha Yoga postures. It pays particular attention to the sequence of asanas and how one asana should lead to the other. The asanas are done as a continuous motion and resemble aerobics since they are more energetic and taxing. It combines the principles of postures and breathing like Hatha Yoga, but here stamina building also forms a component. To distinguish it from Patanjali’s original Ashtanga Yoga, this is also called Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga.

Kriya Yoga: Kriya Yoga, introduced by Yogi Paramahansa Yogananda, is ‘spirituality’ based yoga, where an initiation takes place between the ‘master’ and his ‘disciple’. You have to follow three basic principles, namely, self discipline, introspection and devotion. By practising these three you eventually achieve a higher consciousness or state of being. These kriya exercises are not simple breathing exercises. The ‘prana’ or life- force is controlled and channelized through the spinal passages and the spiritual energy is opened up. The mind, body and spirit reach a sense of balance and purity.

Presently, the interest in yoga has heightened. Several forms of yoga under different names have cropped up. Few examples are Iyengar Yoga, Bikram Yoga, Power Yoga and many more. You can take select what suits you. However, the basic principles of yoga are the same, with the aim to make your body supple and your mind tranquil.

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