Hatha Yoga is the Indian science of bodily movement. Ashtanga Yoga, Viniyoga, Iyengar Yoga, etc. are schools of hatha yoga. The different schools stress different aspects of Hatha Yoga. People trained and certified in those schools can call themselves teachers of that style. Most schools don’t allow their teachers to certify in different styles. People not certified by a particular school may say they teach “hatha yoga” or, if they teach a fast-paced class similar to Ashtanga Yoga, someone may say they teach “vinyasa” or “flow” yoga.

Certifications are fairly new. When I started doing yoga in the 1970s, during an earlier wave of popularity, there were no sticky mats, no props, and no mention of teacher certification. Teachers either had a lot of training or they had none. As a student you had no idea how knowledgeable a teacher was. Teachers can now be certified, meaning they have completed a certain amount of training in a specific school of yoga.

Certifications are meant to assess someone’s knowledge of yoga, as defined by a school. The training and certification process is unique to each school. Some require a candidate to have practiced the style for a certain period before they are eligible to enter teacher training. Others will take anyone who has the money for tuition, whether or not they’ve ever attended a yoga class. This can leave students in the same position I ran into years ago.

When people first start yoga, the directions seem odd and teachers don’t always stop to explain. This means students “improvise” as they try to get into a pose. Sometimes this is not a good thing and people are injured.

The videos on this site are designed to be short introductions to individual poses. I use Jane, a cartoon character, and her skeleton to show some of the more common poses. The “template” for each pose is taken from B.K.S. Iyengar’s book Light on Yoga. If you are a student of another school, you may notice differences. If you want more information on the poses and their benefits, I recommend the books from Mr. Iyengar and Miss Geeta Iyengar.