The classical form of yoga where you practice asanas individually, hold the postures for long, detailed alignments cues.
What is hatha yoga ?
Originating in 11th century India and ascribed to Sage Goraknath, Hatha Yoga practice has been propagated to gain mastery over the mind through asanas or postures that focus on breath to channelise vital energy or prana in the body.. The word ‘Yoga’ is derived from its Sanskrit root ‘Yuj’ meaning to yoke or union and the word ‘Hatha’ means ‘forceful’ in same ancient Indian language.
Thus one can broadly define Hatha Yoga as’ to achieve union with one’s true Self through forceful discipline of breath and body’. The strength of a Hatha Yoga routine lies in its powerful methods of gaining mastery over a fluctuating brain by holding postures which require a measured way of breathing.
The main purpose of Yoga is to clear the mind of its disturbances so as to lead oneself to a tranquil state. Control of the mind is achieved by balancing opposing energies that flow through us.. By adopting postures that help create focus on ‘Ha’ (prana) and ‘Tha’ (apana) forms the prime element of Hatha Yoga. Hence, a Hatha Yoga session will be characterised by stillness in asanas rather than continuous movements..B.K.S. Iyengar, one of the foremost proponents of Yoga to the world defines’ Ha’ as the Sun or the Soul and ‘Tha’ as Moon or Consciousness. Yoking these two is possible by stilling the constantly shifting mind which is what execution of Hatha Yoga is all about.
Characteristics of hatha yoga
Walk into a Hatha Yoga class and expect to hold your asanas for a while. Every asana requires you to be motionless with dedicated focus on your breath. As the revered master B.K.S. Iyengar puts it – In controlling the breath you are controlling consciousness, and by controlling consciousness you bring rhythm to the breath. This, in short, forms the foundation of Hatha Yoga practice, What emerges is manifold benefits, the most subtle and primary being purging the body of its toxicity and uncoiling of Pranic energy.
The ultimate aim of Hatha Yoga is to achieve optimum health and harmonize energy flow and it works towards this goal with discipline and will- power. Though it may appear that Hatha Yoga is all about steadfastness of body and breath, it encompasses many other parts. These include Shatkarmas or cleansing processes,Asanas or physical postures, Mudras or symbolic hand gestures, Pratyahara or withdrawl of sensory projections, Pranayama or breathing exercises to add dimensions to pranic energy, Dhyana or Meditation and Samadhi or Equanimity through elimination of thought.leading to self realization.
A true Hatha yogi has to incorporate these elements as a holistic process of realising the purpose of Yoga.
Some Hatha yoga positions
One can build up a Hatha Yoga practice by taking on basic postures or asanas under the guidance of an experienced teacher. Hatha Yoga positions commonly presented in a Hatha Yoga class will include:
- Seated Postures
- Standing Postures
- Balancing Postures
- Supine or Lying down Postures
- Back Bends
Why Hatha is so popular ?
Denoting a common nomenclature for most forms of Yoga practiced all over the world including Restorative Yoga, Power Yoga, Ashtanga, Iyengar and Bikram Yoga, Hatha yoga in the world has emerged as the ideal practice process for beginners aspiring to do yoga. It finds humongous number of followers in almost all countries and its popularity keeps increasing. since it lays a firm foundation from which to explore the vastness of Yoga universe.Immensely suited to any age, gender or race that seeks to reap its rich benefits, Hatha Yoga provides a gentle format to get to know the right way to practice Yoga and to adopt a Yogic lifestyle.
Hatha Yoga rates itself on par with popular exercise formats such as Tai Chi or Pilates due to its excellence methodology of connecting body, breath and mind. Not only has Hatha Yoga practice been linked to physical health benefits in people suffering from cancer, asthma, spine conditions,fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, it has proved itself to be an effective antidote for stress reduction and deep relaxation. It endows strength, flexibility and balance and helps heal deep seated ailments. Consistent adherence to a systematic routine definitely can be life changer where Hatha Yoga is concerned.
Interestingly, contemporary Yoga schools have introduced Hatha Yoga Flow practice that seamlessly draws out the stillness associated with Hatha Yoga into a rhythmic flow or vinyasa. Conjoining various asanas into a meaningfully constructive sequence has emerged a new-age variation of traditional Hatha Yoga practice.
A Hatha Yoga presentation brings forth the different components of a practice session. One gets to know the graceful combination of strength and flexibility that goes into executing this venerated form of Yoga gifted to us across centuries.
Hatha and health
Remaining steady in a Yoga posture for a considerable period of time necessitates paying attention to the right alignment in order to avoid injuries or pain, Hatha Yoga practice makes one aware of the right way to move into an asana and stay with it. Consistent practice soon leads to enhanced fitness levels as well as a well- proportioned body endowed with grace and balance. Practicing Hatha Yoga is good for health. Hatha has been known to alleviate spine conditions and get rid of hypertension and arthritis.
Hatha for all ages
The best thing about taking up Hatha Yoga is for all ages and it easy adaptiveness. There are no detrimental factors when it comes to stepping into this fitness arena at any age. In fact, Hatha Yoga helps in restoring vitality and health irrespective of the practitioner’s age. The advantage lies in the various forms designed for those of different levels of fitness and vigor.
Hatha yoga teacher
Nothing can replace the inspiration and guidance that a qualified teacher can bring to those aspiring to reap the rich benefits of Hatha Yoga. It is of vital importance therefore, for a Hatha Yoga instructor to possess in-depth knowledge about Hatha Yoga Postures, Yoga Philosophy, Anatomy, Alignments, Sequencing, Adjustments and Modifications which will ensure a safe and beneficial implementation of this particular form of Yoga. Bearing in mind the fact that Hatha Yoga lays down a firm foundation to explore every other school of Yoga, it needs to be stressed that one who undertakes the highly respected task of a Guru should be equipped with a Teacher’s Training Course that is painstakingly thorough in every aspect.