Hatha yoga, or general Yoga, is the practice of balancing the mind and body. Breath work is the most important part of the practice, helping us to become centred, balanced, release tension and to connect to our movements. The are specific practices, Pranayama, which help to balance our energy and develops efficiency in breathing.
Yoga can help with many problems, chief among which are: body alignment and awareness, flexibility, strength, balance, stress relief, concentration and return to health after illness.
The most recognised path is Raja Yoga, or try here, which is attaining balance through meditation; another is Karma, selfless action, good deeds without the expectation of reward).
Hatha Yoga is considered to be a pathway leading to Raja yoga. Hatha is the yoga of force preparing the body for meditation, balancing our bodies with the mind. Within this practice there are a large number of styles as Hatha yoga recognises that most of us cannot just sit and meditate, there needs to be preparation. The different styles cater to our need for balance.
The major Yoga styles are:
Hatha Yoga is often seen as a style in itself being gentler on the body):
Ashtanga a flowing, strong yoga which is a set sequence of postures originally taught by Sri Pattabi Jois. Ashtanga meaning 'eight limbs' which are the limbs of yoga practice from philosophy, postures, breath work through to meditation.