The word yoga means "union" (Sanskrit योग).
Hatha Yoga is a practice in uniting the mind, body and spirit , by way of physical postures (Asanas), breath work (Pranayama), and relaxation techniques that ultimately lead into meditation (Dhyana). This process begins to create a foundation for one to experience greater wellness and peace of mind.
Yoga is considered to be one of the oldest physical disciplines in existence. Through the use of physical movement, breath, poses, relaxation and meditation, it brings the Practioner into a healthy, balanced, and mindful approach to life.
Yoga focuses on creating harmony between mind and body. The ultimate aim of this practice is to bring balance between the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of Oneself. Thus creating an experience of feeling deeply connected to all that is, which naturally moves the individual into a higher state of self-realization and enlightenment. There is a Zen Proverb that says: "Before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment; chop wood, carry water." This can remind us that higher levels of consciousness have very practical applications to daily living. The job at hand may remain the same, but the experience becomes rich with appreciation and happiness. Furthermore, these higher states of awareness can be practiced even with busy lives, full of family, work, and the challenges in today's society. The world or personal circumstances don't neccesarily have to change in order for peace to become one's perspective.
In a modern world, this ancient practice plays an important role in teaching how to create and maintain balance in life, and knowing how to come back to feeling centered and grounded in the midst of busy, chaotic times. Yoga is an experiential way of learning to stay present with what is, and choosing to be, think and act from that Presence.
Hatha Yoga is the foundation of all physical styles of Yoga. It incorporates yogic philosophy, asanas (postures), pranayama (breathing), and meditation (dharana & dhyana) into a complete system that can be used as a source of exercise, stress management, and self awareness.
Doug Keller ~ Swatantrya Yoga
Doug teaches alignment based yoga, meditation and philosophy. He's a prolific writer of books on yoga therapeutics, breath, yogic philosophy and has contributed wonderful articles in many magazine over the years. The following comes directly from his website. 'Putting your mind' to a discipline — and being empowered by that practice — is what 'yoga' has meant from its beginnings. The evolving disciplines of yoga — meditation, pranayama, asana — provide the tools for empowering us mentally and physically, as well as for breakthrough into our own spiritual heart. That is what yoga has to offer.
Erich Schiffmann ~ Freedom Yoga
Best explained in his own words, "Remember, Yoga is a way of moving into stillness in order to experience the truth of who you are. The practice of yoga is the practice of meditation - or inner listening - in the poses and meditations, as well as all day long. It's a matter of listening inwardly for guidance all the time, and then daring enough and trusting enough to do as you are prompted to do..."
Works by facilitating the flow of energy through the body, in particular, along the energy channels through the chakras. Pranayama (breathing techniques), kriya (sequential postures) mantra and meditation techniques facilitate the experience of self.
Anusara means "to step into the current of divine will", or "to flow with grace". It is a modern form of Hatha Yoga started by John Friend in 1997. This style is an integrated approach, in which the human spirit blends with the precise science of biomechanics. Based in Tantric Philosophy, it is a practice that is meant to be a celebration of the heart.
Developed by yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar more than 60 years ago, promotes strength, flexibility, endurance, and balance. Iyengar incorporates precise body alignment with traditional postures, or asanas, that make up the broader category of hatha yoga. However, props used in this method provide everyone (elderly, sick, injured, and disabled) oportunities to practice Yoga. Iyengar is slow paced, very precise and especially good if you're recovering from an injury.