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Difference Between Hatha Yoga and Patanjali Yoga : Raja Yoga vs Hatha Yoga

Difference Between Hatha Yoga and Patanjali Yoga

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If you do regular yoga exercises, or meditation, you have probably heard about Hatha yoga, Patanjali yoga, Ashtanga yoga, and Raja yoga. They are similar concepts, but not the same thing. Do you know the difference between them?

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the main difference between the Hatha yoga and the Patanjali yoga. 

How is Hatha Yoga Different from Patanjali Yoga

Firstly, we will explain the basics of these two ancient yoga system and then we will summarize the different characteristics of these two popular yoga systems.

What is yoga?

The term yoga can mean different things in different contexts, but traditionally the word yoga is used to mean a large and diverse group of procedures and techniques for the total well-being of body, mind, and spirit. Yoga is an integrated lifestyle consisting of varied practices, including ethics, values, physical exercises, breathing practices, concentration practices, meditations and Self-realization. Modern research confirmed the benefits of yoga exercises for physical, mental and emotional health, and curing diseases [1]. 

To understand difference between different yoga types, you need to know the five core groups of yoga. Here, we will explain them in details.

What are the 5 types of yoga? 

Do you know that there are many different types of Yoga? It’s important to know the differences between them in order to practice the kind of yoga that best suits your needs.

In this document, we present 5 different types of yoga. Essentially, the current practices of yoga can be broadly classified into the following five primary groups: Patanjali yoga (Raja yoga), Hatha yoga, Jnana yoga,  Karma yoga, and Bhakti yoga. 

These five branches of yoga are not separate but overlapping concepts. However, for easy understanding, we can classify them as follows:

  1. Hatha Yoga – Yoga posture and breathing techniques;
  2. Raja Yoga – Meditation and philosophy;
  3. Jnana Yoga – Self enquiry, Who AM I?;
  4. Karma Yoga – Selfless service;
  5. Bhakti yoga – Path devotion and surrender.


The Five types of Yoga

The Five Branches of Yoga

What do the Hatha Yoga means?

In the Sanskrit language, the word “Ha” means “sun energy” and the word “tha” means “moon energy.”  Hence, Hatha yoga means balancing the two opposite life energies that regulate all processes in our body and mind. It focuses on the techniques that move spiritual energy both upward and downward in a controlled way through different energy channels in the body.

Hatha Yoga Pradipika is one of the key yoga books, which explains the details of hatha yoga. It’s history dates back to the 15th century. However, there are many other ancient texts, which explain more subtler aspects of hatha yoga.

Hatha yoga includes sequence of many yoga postures and energy locking mechanisms for self-transformation. Unlike other types of yoga, hatha yoga is practiced at a slow pace, through relaxed awareness. It focuses on kundalini awakening meditation after several stages of purification processes. 

The Seven Limbs of Hatha Yoga

Hatha-yoga is designed to experience the infinite Ultimate Reality of the Self, in the finite body through yoga postures, breathing exercises and meditations. The hatha yoga is also defined as the way of burning the past karmas and releasing the three knots in the body through austerity, discipline, exercises and other mind-body purification practices. Hatha yoga also deals with chakras. How many chakras are there? There are 114 chakras in human body. The seven limbs of hatha yoga are as follows:

  1. Asanas (postures);
  2. Pranayama (breathing exercises and techniques);
  3. Mantra chanting (Five types chanting);
  4. Shat Karmas (six cleansing techniques, also known as Shat Kriyas);
  5. Bandhas (locks) and Mudras (seals) for the regulation of Prana (life-force);
  6. Kundalini awakening;
  7. Samadhi (Union with God, realization of the Self, ecstasy, nirvana).
The Seven Limbs of Hatha Yoga

The Seven Limbs of Hatha Yoga

What is Patanjali yoga or Raja yoga?

Patanjali was an Indian sage, who systematically compiled the essential philosophy of yoga in 195 verses. This compilation is known as Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra. It describes the eight limbs of yoga. These eight limbs of yoga is known as Patanjali yoga, Raja yoga or Ashtanga yoga. 

What are the eight limbs of yoga?

Patanjali describes the eight-fold path of integrated lifestyle. The Eight Limbs of Yoga or the steps of Ashtanga yoga are as follows:

  1. Yama (Restraints: non-violence, harmlessness, truthfulness, non-stealing, control of senses);
  2. Niyama (Disciplines: cleanliness, purification of body and mind);
  3. Asanas (Postures);
  4. Pranayama (Control of breathing and life-force);
  5. Pratyahara (Drawing inward: Turning the attention within);
  6. Dharana (Focus: concentration);
  7. Dhyana (Meditation: prolonged periods of perfect contemplation);
  8. Samadhi (Union with the Supreme); 

Eight Limbs of Patanjali Yoga

Difference between Hatha Yoga and Patanjali Yoga

The main difference between hatha yoga and the Patanjali yoga is that Hatha yoga focuses more on the breath, body, energy channels, and meditation. But Patanjali yoga focuses more on mind, meditation and philosophy.

However, Hatha yoga and Patanjali yoga are complementary to each other. Hatha yoga and Raja yoga appear to be diametrically opposite but deeply interlinked. Raja yoga without Hatha yoga is lame. Hatha yoga without Raja yoga is blind. Physical yoga alone will not help, you need virtues and deep meditations. Physical exercises can improve your health, but it can enhance your ego and may take you away from the divine path. You need to follow all the eight steps of yoga. Asana and Pranayama steps are elaborated in the Hatha yoga.

“Raja yoga without Hatha yoga is lame. Hatha yoga without Raja yoga is blind.” — Sri Amit Ray

The Takeaway

I hope this guide can help you to understand the difference between Hatha yoga and the Patanjali yoga. Hatha Yoga acknowledges that the body is actually an amazing instrument to access higher consciousness. Ashtanga yoga tries to balance all aspects of yoga, however given more emphasis on meditation and Self-realization. 

If you work with the body, breath and mind in a systematic way, you can reprogram your subconscious mind for your spiritual, mental and physical betterment.

While you do your daily yoga exercises keep in mind that Ashtanga yoga of Patanjali is also helpful. These two types of yoga are complimentary to each other and both are beneficial. 

The 114 chakras

The 114 chakras Training Class