Hatha yoga focuses on balancing dualities in the body, physically and mentally. The word “Hatha” comes from the Sanskrit terms “ha” meaning “sun” and “tha” meaning “moon”. In the body, the two words “ha” and “tha” also are associated with the yogi’s two nostrils.
There are 3 major “Nadis” or “channels” in the body.
Pingala is also called the Surya (sun) nadi. It is masculine in nature, is heating, and flows through the right nostril.
Sushumna is the central channel. It is located along the spinal cord and contains the 7 main chakras. Ida and pingala pass thru this channel at each chakra.
Generally speaking, Hatha yoga is about taking care of the physical body. It purifies and keeps glands, nerves and other bodily organs and systems in good health. It aims to physically purify the body and to fill it with Life Force Energy (or Prana) to prepare the practitioner for Raja yoga (meditation). Balancing the currents in the three main channels of the body allows Life Force Energy to flow more freely throughout the channels,
Vinyasa means “a dynamic concentrating posture”. While Hatha yoga is more about the postures only, Vinyasa (or “Vinyasa flow”) focuses on linking breath with flow or movement. Vinyasa classes give a lot of importance to the journey between the postures and have a general tendency to be led at a quicker pace than a Hatha class.
Hatha and Vinyasa offer slightly different emphasis, but both have the same aim of improving fitness of the Body, Mind and Spirit. Both are grounded in in the yogic philosophy of the Eight Fold Path presented in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.