Yoga appears everywhere these days as social media platforms celebrate the aesthetic; Instagram feeds are full of the bendy elite seemingly blissed out in pretzel positions on far-flung tropical beaches. But whilst yoga may be advertised as this ideal, making beautiful and often unachievable shapes is not the reality or the core of the practice.
Originating from India, Yoga is an ancient Sanskrit word meaning to join together; a complete union of the mind, body and soul, and returning to one’s inherent peace.
Whilst the Western world first adopted the physical postures for aesthetic gains, yoga today has developed with a greater understanding of the Eastern traditions and wisdom teachings, with many seeking a deeper meaning from their practice.
Traditionally the desired effect was to sit longer during meditation, stilling the mind and letting go of the ego.
The aims of the physical side of yoga are in the embodiment, the feeling of being grounded and the cultivation of awareness, intelligent alignment and mobility in the body, all from a place of strength, balance and non-judgement.
Yoga is the balance within the mind and the body, created with the breath as the guide.
Below, Vogue speaks to several internationally renowned yoga teachers about the different types of yoga.
The Sanskrit word Hatha translates as “force”. The word can be broken down into two words: “Ha” meaning sun and “Tha” meaning moon.
Originally the practice of Hatha yoga focused on mastery of the physical body as a preparation for a spiritual practice: the control over the physical body to develop a hold over the chattering mind and as a way to connect to spirit. Read more