What Hatha Yoga Means
Hatha yoga is sometimes called a “dual” type of yoga because it includes a duality between two opposites: the sun (in Hinda, “ha”) and the moon (“tha”). Some who practice Hatha yoga call it a “yoking” yoga as it joins these two opposites together. This main established principle for Hatha yoga leads to specific structured poses and other activities that help with body and mind “purification” through principles like asana (postures), pranayama (subtle energy control) and more.
In Hatha yoga, we aim to balance ida and pingala, the left and right energy channels (nadis) of our body to awaken the shushumna nadi, the main and central energy channel. The asana practice in hatha yoga is very gentle and soft. By describing it as soft, we don’t mean “easy”.
The postures can be very challenging, however, the approach to master them comes step by step. In the Hatha practise, we always begin with a good warm up to prepare our body for the more advanced poses and prevent injuries and overstretching. A good warm-up is 10-15 min long and smoothens all joins, muscles, and tendons.
After the warm-up, a class often begins with sun salutations and then goes over to 4-7 asanas with modifications. In the Hatha practice, the postures are often held over longer periods to improve the flexibility and adjust the body in the various asanas. A posture can be held for approximately 1-3 minutes. This does not only help to get into the posture but also aims to focus the mind, make it more steady. Asana means “steady posture”. At the end of a class, you will be laying in shavasana for 10 minutes, flat on your back with eyes closed. During shavasana, your body gets time to fully relax, let go of any tension and fully sink into the ground. Overall, we can say that Hatha Yoga is the most effective, smoothest and most balancing type of yoga.
Most forms of yoga in the West can be classified as Hatha Yoga. Hatha simply refers to the practice of physical yoga postures, meaning your Ashtanga, vinyasa, Iyengar and Power Yoga classes are all Hatha Yoga. The word “hatha” can be translated two ways: as “willful” or “forceful,” or the yoga of activity, and as “sun” (ha) and “moon” (tha), the yoga of balance. Hatha practices are designed to align and calm your body, mind, and spirit in preparation for meditation.
Benefits of Hatha YogaThose who take the time to study this ancient yoga art understand that there are some specific benefits of becoming adept at practicing Hatha yoga style. One of the main ones stems from one of the pillars of the Hatha style: breathing. Controlling breath can help improve oxygenation of the body and alleviate stress in some forms. Other elements of Hatha yoga also help with relaxing the body and fighting the stresses of the modern world. As a historical preparation for intensive meditation, Hatha yoga has a lot to offer a modern Western audience.