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Isis Monteverde: Hatha vs Vinyasa Yoga

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Life coach Isis Monteverde formerly worked as a yoga teacher, having trained in Bali. This article will compare Hatha and Vinyasa yoga, exploring the key similarities and differences between them.

Of the many different types of yoga practiced all over the world today, Hatha and Vinyasa yoga rank as two of the most popular schools. While they share many poses in common, each has its own distinct focus and pacing. Choosing the right one requires consideration of a variety of different factors, chief amongst them the participant’s fitness level, yoga experience, and goals for learning and practicing yoga.

Hatha yoga is an umbrella term used to describe several of the most common types of yoga taught in the West today. With this type of yoga, participants move into different poses slowly and deliberately, challenging both their strength and flexibility while encouraging relaxation and mindfulness. Placing a special emphasis on posture and controlled breathing, Hatha yoga helps to build core strength and incorporates hundreds of poses, including Downward-Facing Dog. These poses are usually held for several breaths before the participant moves onto the next.

The Vinyasa approach to yoga places a special emphasis on flow, with participants making fluid movements from one pose directly into the next. Although the term Vinyasa yoga is often used interchangeably with Ashtanga yoga, in reality there are subtle differences, with Ashtanga yoga sessions following the same pattern of poses while Vinyasa allows the instructor to vary poses at their discretion.

Key benefits of Hatha yoga include:

  • Improved muscle and joint flexibility, with a 2015 study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science suggesting that people who practice Hatha yoga benefit from improved flexibility of the spine and hamstrings
  • Enhanced core strength, with a 2016 study indicating that just 21 days of Hatha yoga training can improve core muscle strength and balance
  • Reduced symptoms of depression, with just 12 sessions of Hatha yoga significantly decreasing levels of anxiety and depression, according to a 2018 study

Meanwhile, key benefits of Vinyasa yoga include:

  • Improved strength and stamina, with challenging poses completed in quick succession
  • Enhanced balance, with a 2015 study revealing that this form of yoga helped to improve the balance of people with impaired vision, reducing their fall risk
  • Improved fitness, providing an effective, light-intensity cardiovascular workout

Overall, both types of yoga help to ease stress while improving fitness, flexibility and mindfulness. The biggest difference between them is pace. While Hatha yoga is a slower activity, Vinyasa yoga offers a cardio and strength training workout, linking each breath to movement.

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