Yoga is a physical and spiritual discipline with its roots in ancient India. Today, the movement is as much a trend as food trucks and farmers markets, but with yoga, women (and yes, men too) get to flaunt their sinewy form in scant spandex outfits. Daily downward-dogging can slim, stretch, and tone every limb, ligament, bone, and muscle of the body.
Yoga improves bodily and mental health through a series of controlled poses and breathing patterns, some of which focus on relaxation techniques and others which develop flexibility, strength, balance, and concentration.
The arsenal of available yoga classes is constantly evolving to conform to its diverse following of students. For committed runners, there's the aerobically oriented Power Yoga. If you have a bad back, Iyengar Yoga, which uses props, may support your sacrum (the base of your spine) and tend to your twinges. And let's not forget moms-to-be, who can benefit from prenatal yoga - a gentle sequence that cultivates a healthy pregnancy and easy (well, easier) birth.
In western cultures, "hatha" can be used interchangeably with "yoga." Hatha is, by definition, the physical aspect of a yoga practice, and a hatha class may take the form of modern yoga styles like ashtanga, Iyengar, and Bikram. Hatha yoga dates back to 15th century India. It is the traditional approach to yoga exercises and breathing patterns that teaches its students to grow mentally and physically.
Hatha yoga routines consist of physical postures (asana), purification practices, poses, breathing exercises, and meditation. Asanas are the challenging exercises that work and strengthen your muscles. Through these demanding physical sequences, hatha improves balance, strength, and composure.