Hatha yoga classes use the breath to create a link between the body and the mind. Hatha classes build flexibility and strength while minimizing the chance of injury. This well-rounded style balances and opens the body. You will learn to still the mind and be present in the moment. In addition to more flexibility and strength, a hatha yoga practice will lead to all the other usual benefits of yoga--reduced stress, lower blood pressure, more energy and better sleep.
There is a subset of classes specifically labeled hatha, which is characterized by a focus on gentle asana without any flow between poses. Hatha is endlessly adaptable to each teacher's personal style and each student's needs. For that reason, it can be hard to generalize about. This overview will focus on classes labeled Hatha yoga, and we'll learn more about other hatha specialties (vinyasa, anusara, iyengar, ashtanga, etc.) in future columns.
Are you patient? Do you need to become more patient? Would you like to learn more about the alignment points for each pose? Most hatha classes move a little slower and give you a chance to really get into the pose. If all you want to do is move and sweat, this probably isn't the class style for you. If you want to experience a gentle, more nuanced practice, this is a good option.