The term “hatha yoga” is an umbrella term. Specifically, hatha yoga is the branch of yoga that includes the physical elements, namely the asanas, or poses, and breathing (pranayama). It includes all types of physical yoga disciplines with which you may be familiar, including Ashtanga yoga, Bikram yoga, Iyengar yoga, Kundalini yoga, and Svaroopa yoga.
In addition, lesser known styles including Kripalu, Ananda, and Ansura yoga fall under the hatha heading because they involve physical activity, although these three have a stronger meditative element and less of a “workout/fitness yoga” orientation.
Yoga is a centuries-old philosophy with a goal of spiritual enlightenment based on the integration of the mind and body through eight branches. Hatha is the physical element and is one of the eight branches of yoga. Simplified definitions of the other seven branches are as follows:
-Bhakti yoga: Achieving enlightenment based on devotion to a supreme being.
-Guru yoga: Achieving enlightenment through devotion to a yoga teacher.
-Jnana yoga: Achieving enlightenment through the idea that your current perception of distinct experiences will ultimately blend into one consciousness.
-Karma yoga: Achieving enlightenment by acting unselfishly and with integrity.
-Mantra yoga: Achieving enlightenment by using sound to harmonize the body and mind
-Raja yoga: Achieving enlightenment based on asanas, breathing, concentration, and moral discipline (this branch consists of eight limbs and incorporates ashtanga yoga).
-Tantra yoga: Achieving enlightenment through activation of the body’s spiritual energy (this branch incorporates kundalini yoga).