Hatha is a very broad term that encompasses any of the physical practices of yoga. It can be used to describe every kind of yoga asana practice from Iyengar to Ashtanga and everything that falls between and beyond. In fact the many contemporary types of physical yoga (asana) that are popular today can be described as hatha yoga.
Hatha means forceful in Sanskrit, the ancient Indian language that is the source of most of yoga’s terminology. Today, hatha is most often used to describe gentle, basic yoga classes with no flow between poses. Expect a slower-paced stretching-focused class with some basic pranayama breathing exercises and perhaps a seated meditation at the end. Hatha classes are a good place to work on your alignment, learn relaxation techniques, and become comfortable with doing yoga while building strength and flexibility.
Try a hatha class if the idea of gentle yoga appeals to you or seems right for your body. It can be a great introduction to yoga, but shouldn’t be mistaken for easy yoga since it can still be challenging both physically and mentally. Hatha classes provide an opportunity to stretch, unwind, and release tension, providing a good counterpoint to both busy lifestyles and cardio workouts. If you go into a hatha class and it feels too slow or not active enough, don’t give up on yoga completely.