Hatha yoga is a combination of physical postures, breathing exercises, cleansing processes and mindful awareness of the physical and suble bodies to prepare us for contemplation and meditation. The individual syllables “Ha”, meaning “sun”, and “tha”, meaning “moon”, unite in the word “Hatha”. This suggests the union of opposites. The key aspect of yoga is the harmonizing of opposing forces – hot energy is united with cool energy, strong and soft and masculine with feminine.

Yoga has existed for thousands of years and its history goes back to the time of the Vedic culture – around 2800BCE. It is closely entwined with the Hindu religion (Vedic philosophy was also the starting point of Hinduism). Yoga is best described as a spiritual practice rather than a religious one and is closely associated with Hinduism, Buddhism, Janism and Tantra. Anyone can practice yoga, it can be incorporated into a religious belief or practiced alone as a form of spirituality. It is a way of living, a set of moral, ethical and practical guidelines that can help us live a more balanced and healthy life.

Although Hatha Yoga is principally an oral tradition passed from teacher to student, many texts have been written to offer guidance and inspiration for the in-depth study of yoga. Probably the single most influential text on yoga is the Yoga Sutras.

Around the 2nd and 3rd century AD the Indian sage Patanjali organised the ancient teaching into a developmental system – the Yoga Sutras. According to this classic text , the practice of asana (postures) represents only a small part of yoga, as it was originally intended as a preparation for meditation and enlightenment. The word “Sutra” literally means “thread” and the Sutras are defined as threads of wisdom and Patanjali crystallized the teachings of the Yoga Sutras into philosophical concepts that, in practice, provide the route to self-realisation.