Yoga, as it is taught in the U.S., is Hatha Yoga. Hatha Yoga focuses on the physical limbs (paths) of traditional Yoga. Hatha Yoga classes focus on breath regulation and breathing techniques (Pranayama), Yoga postures or poses (Asana), learning concentration (Dharana) and relaxation or meditation (Dhyana).
In Hatha Yoga class you use Pranayama and Asana to begin to connect (yuj – join, yoke) your body, mind and breath. As you focus on Pranayama (the movement of your breath) and asana (the movement of your body) you begin to learn to concentrate (Dharana) and to quiet your mind. Relaxation (Dhyana) is usually incorporated at the end of each session.
Yoga is one of the six orthodox systems of Indian Philosophy and began on the Indian subcontinent about 5000 years ago. Yoga comes from the Sanskrit word Yuj which means to yoke or join, thus in Hatha Yoga we begin learn to join our body, mind and breath. In Traditional yoga there are eights limbs or paths of yoga – Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi. The eight limbs of traditional Yoga address an entire life style. Hatha Yoga teaches four of the eight limbs of traditional Yoga – Pranayama, Asana, Dharana and Dhyana.