Ashtanga Yoga

Ashtanga Yoga vs Hatha Yoga

There exists a long-standing dispute between the two styles of yoga:

Ashtanga and Hatha. The former is considered the more traditional and more rigorous class, with Hatha yoga being a comparatively lighter, more accessible approach to the practice. 

This article provides a comparison of these two types of yoga and their history. 

Let’s get started!

Hatha yoga

Hatha yoga is a form of yoga that originated in Hindu culture in the 15th century and is now extensively practised worldwide.

What is hatha based yoga?
It emphasizes the meditative part of the practice, as meditation is essential to shut out the world. 

It also establishes postures that strengthen the body. As the individual enters a state of relaxation, their mental and physical balance is supported, benefiting their entire bodily health.

Benefits of hatha yoga

The importance of a robust, versatile and flexible body is a concern that most modern-day practitioners share.

The poses can strengthen muscles and can restore balance to people suffering from illness or injury. It also benefits the mind, as well as the soul.

Ashtanga yoga

Ashtanga yoga is a modern system of yoga that Sri K. Pattabhi Jois developed in the late 20th century that uses strong breathing patterns and specific body positioning. 

What is Ashtanga yoga briefly explain?
Practitioners perform these advanced movements in a series of cycles to build up strength and flexibility. 

In addition, it enables individuals to become calm and gives them greater control over their thoughts, emotions, and reactions. 

Benefits of ashtanga yoga

The Ashtanga Vinyasa system’s emphasis on breathing and meditation allows the mind to focus while strengthening the muscles. 

What does Ashtanga yoga do for your body?
It also helps people to systematically work out areas of their body that might need improvement. Thus, ashtanga yoga trains the body physically, mentally, and spiritually.

History of Ashtanga vs Hatha yoga

As far as there are records, people have been adopting yoga for over 5,000 years. 

Hatha yoga was initially developed in the 15th century in India. It is traditionally performed barefoot with loose-fitting clothes and does not require certain positions to be mastered before beginning with other positions. 

The main emphasis in Hatha yoga is on the physical benefits of the practice, including increased mental discipline, increased flexibility, and improved health. 

Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga began in the 20th century with Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. He was one of its founding fathers, along with Sri T. Krishnamacharya, one of his teachers. 

Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga focuses more on the spiritual aspect of yoga. It emphasizes the importance of meditation and breathing techniques because the physical poses are too complex for most people to hold at first.

It is considered a much harder physical discipline than Hatha yoga.

The key differences between the two

  • The ashtanga vinyasa system moves from one pose to another in quick succession without pausing. The hatha yoga focuses on the body’s breath, which counterbalances the physical work done in each pose. 
  • Hatha emphasizes meditation and physical strength of the body, whereas Ashtanga attempts to balance a person’s breathing and physical posture.
  • Hatha emphasizes the body’s aesthetics, whereas ashtanga yoga is about strengthening the body to achieve a higher spiritual state.
  • Hatha yoga focuses on the relaxation aspect of the practice, whereas ashtanga yoga stresses its physical benefits.
  • Hatha yoga uses props such as chairs and blankets to support the body in certain yoga positions. However, ashtanga is performed in the traditional, non-propped but supported manner. 
  • Ashtanga is a lot harder than hatha yoga to learn and requires time and patience.
  • Ashtanga is considered an advanced yoga system compared to hatha yoga; it is regarded as a “strong” way of practising yoga and stresses physical strength and mental discipline. Hatha yoga, on the other hand, emphasizes relaxation and meditation.

Which one is the best for you?

There are many yoga styles that you can try. You will find that some types will feel suitable for your body and mind, while others won’t. 

Hatha is a good choice if you focus on relaxing your body and getting back into shape. Ashtanga is great for disciplined people, have strong minds, are willing to take the time to learn the techniques, and are interested in achieving both physical and spiritual strengths through their yoga practice.


Both have their own sets of benefits. Your fitness level, age, and general health will determine which one is best.

 If you are beginning your yoga journey, start with Hatha yoga. Ashtanga yoga requires a lot of patience and practice to get the hang of it. 

It comes with a steep learning curve and demands a lot from its practitioners. 

You can try both types of yoga to see which one you like better. However, starting with the easy one first before advancing towards the difficult one is advisable if you are a beginner. 

Ashtanga yoga is tough to master, but if you are willing to learn it, it gives back equal amounts of strength and flexibility that your body needs to be stronger.

I hope you can now appreciate the differences between hatha yoga and Ashtanga. Each one has its unique benefits, and it depends on the person to choose which yoga they think is best for them!

Happy practising!

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