The word “hatha” means willful or forceful. Hatha yoga refers to a set of physical exercises, known as asanas. Sequences of asanas are designed to align your skin, muscles, and bones, and to open the many channels of the body so that energy can flow freely.
Hatha is often alternately translated by dividing the word into its two syllables: ha meaning “sun” and tha meaning “moon.” This refers to the balance of masculine aspects—active, hot, sun—and feminine aspects—receptive, cool, moon—within all of us. Hatha yoga is a path toward creating balance and uniting opposites. In our physical bodies, we develop a balance of strength and flexibility. We also learn to balance our effort and surrender in each pose. Hatha yoga is a powerful tool for self-transformation. It asks us to bring our attention to our breath, which helps us to still the fluctuations of the mind and be more present in the unfolding of each moment.
Jenny O.’s Hatha yoga classes are alignment-focused in many traditions: Iyengar, Anusara, and even the Viniyoga traditions. Class starts off slow, focusing on the breath and alignment. Students may work through challenging poses, holding positions to experience how the breath moves through the body and expands the posture. She guides each student to take their body only as far as it will safely go at the time and she is ready to suggest modifications that are appropriate for every level of student. Class generally ends with a restorative pose and a meditation or breath exercise (pranayama), so that students can take time to find themselves and reflect on what they have learned. The quiet conclusion of class is a chance to bring the awareness back to the breath and to explore the subtle changes in the physical and energetic bodies.