Hatha Yoga describes any of the physical practices of yoga. (Remember that yoga has eight limbs, only one of which, asana, involves doing yoga poses.) When you do Iyengar, this is hatha yoga; when you do Ashtanga, as different as this may seem, it is hatha yoga too. Hatha means forceful in Sanskrit.
These days, hatha is most often used to describe gentle, basic classes with no flow between poses. A hatha class will likely be a slow-paced stretching class with some simple breathing exercises and perhaps seated meditation. This is a good place to learn beginners’ poses, relaxation techniques, and become comfortable with yoga.
Many people try a hatha class and love the relaxed feeling, others decide that yoga is too slow and meditative for them.
What most people refer to as simply “yoga” is actually Hatha Yoga. A hatha class will likely be a slow-paced stretching class with some simple breathing exercises and perhaps seated meditation. This is a good place to learn beginners’ poses, relaxation techniques, and become comfortable with yoga. These days, hatha is most often used to describe gentle, basic classes with no flow between poses. A hatha class will likely be a slow-paced stretching class with some simple breathing exercises and perhaps seated meditation.
Hatha Yoga is a system of yoga introduced by Yogi Swatmarama, a yogic sage in the 15th century in India. This particular system of yoga is the most popular one, and it is from which several other Styles of Yoga originated including Power Yoga, Bikram Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, and Kundalini Yoga. The word “hatha” comes from the Sanskrit terms “ha” meaning “sun” and “tha” meaning “moon”. Thus, Hatha Yoga is known as the branch of Yoga that unites pairs of opposites referring to the positive (sun) and negative (moon) currents in the system. It concentrates on the third (Asana) and fourth (Pranayama) steps in the Eight Limbs of Yoga.
Hatha Yoga tries to achieve balance between body and mind, as well as attempts to free the more subtle spiritual elements of the mind through physical poses or Asanas, Breathing Techniques or Pranayama, and Meditation.
Asanas are various body positions designed to improve health and remove diseases in the physical, causal, and subtle bodies. The word “asana” is Sanskrit for “seat”, which refers not only to the physical position of the body but also to the position of the body in relation to divinity. They were originally meant for Meditation, as the postures can make you feel relaxed for a long period of time. The regular practice of Asanas will grant the practitioner muscle flexibility and bone strength, as well as non-physical rewards such as the development of will power, concentration, and self-withdrawal.
Pranayama is derived from the words “prana” (life-force or energy source) and “ayama” (to control). It is the science of breath control. This is an important part of Hatha Yoga because the yogis of old times believed that the secret to controlling one’s mind can be unlocked by controlling one’s breath. The practice of Pranayama can also help unleash the dormant energies inside our body.
The practice of Hatha Yoga can help you recognize your hidden physical and mental potentials. Through the continued performance of Asanas, you will gain flexibility and strength, and learn to be more relaxed under otherwise stressful situations. Hatha Yoga’s Relaxation Exercises will open the energy channels, which in turn allows spiritual energy to flow freely. Some Hatha yoga poses also massage and tone your internal organs, helping to prevent diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, and hypertension. They also bring balance to internal and glandular functions. Pranayama, on the other hand, can help manage asthma and bronchitis.
Hatha Yoga can also help you cope with stress, relieve tension, and deal with anxiety and depression. More importantly, it will help you put your mind in a focused state to prepare for Meditation and, eventually, the search for enlightenment.
Hatha yoga is as old and traditional as civilization, yet it persists in modern society as a means to achieving essential vitality.
Health is a combination of tonicity of the body, emotional stability, and intellectual clarity and the discovery of the soul. Think of your body as the temple of the soul, which needs to be maintained and even nurtured.
Hatha yoga offers us techniques to become more aware in life. It goes beyond the practice of asanas for the sake of getting fit, or maintaining flexibility, which is the external practice of yoga.