The word Yoga comes from the root “yuj” which means to yoke together. It is commonly translated as union. Hatha Yoga in particular comes from the root “ha” meaning sun and “tha”meaning moon. Hatha Yoga is movement based Yoga that is meant to balance energy (solar) and calm (lunar). If we look at these definitions, we can clearly see that Hatha Yoga is movement that is meant to unite the active and passive energies in each of us to find balance. All movement based Yoga classes are indeed Hatha Yoga as long as their goal is to bring a state of balance to the student. All movement based Yoga classes are at the trunk of one giant tree that splinters in many directions. Many times we get so fixated on differences, that we forget the similarities.
For those of us who get fixated on one style or another, or even begin to speak negatively about one style or another; we are not practicing Yoga (in the largest sense of the word). If you feel yourself begin to speak negatively of another style or teacher, or if you tout your system as “the best” there is try to remember these words from Max Strom:
Because of our passionate devotion and belief in our own particular style of Hatha Yoga, or for our particular teacher, it doesn’t mean that other systems are wrong. We need to be very careful, very diligent and never say anything negative about another teacher. It is harmful to that teacher, to Yoga in general and to ourselves. If pressed for an opinion on a teacher’s particular method, and your truth is a contrary view, you could say, “He or she is a gifted teacher, but we disagree on how to teach this…” or “Our styles are very different, but that is not uncommon.” Always acknowledge respect first, differences second. This way even if her or she were standing right there next to you he or she would not be offended.
It’s a good restraint [tapas practice] to try to never say anything negative about anything, but particularly about another Yoga teacher or Yoga system. Avoid all discussion that is divisive. Yoga is commonly translated as union. Let us speak of what we have in common with each other. Cultivate brotherly and sisterly love in the Yoga community. If anyone should be tolerant it should be the Yogis. They say the mind is the least flexible part of the body. Beware of this trap.
Just some food for thought as we approach our practice both on and beyond the Yoga mat.