We have had some idea of the practice of yoga here in America for at least the last hundred years, in Europe for somewhat longer. In the early part of the 20th century, Paramhansa Yoga nand a introduced the percepts of yoga to a wide Western audience with his SelfRealization Fellowship, including the idea of Hatha yoga.
Hatha yoga is an expression of one of the “eight limbs” (Ashtanga) of yoga as defined by Patanjali in the Sadhana Pada of the Yoga Sutras. The particular limb is Asana, which literally means “to sit” or “a posture.” Interestingly, Hatha means “force” or “violence,” which gives the phrase Hatha yoga a possible meaning of “union by force.”
Without a doubt, the person who fundamentally defined Hatha yoga in the West was Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, the teacher of such luminaries as B. K. S. Iyengar, T. K. F. Desikachar, and K. PattabhiJois. Of the three students, Iyengar could be said to have laid the foundations for today’s Hatha yoga with his impeccable attention to the structure of postures. In the mid-1970s we saw the emergence of a “new” idea within the yoga community with the introduction ofK. PattabhiJois’ Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga.