Yoga is the stilling of the fluctuations of the mind. – Patanjali
Practice of Yoga is the art and science of creating an intimate union between the mind, body and spirit, so that one can live healthy and in harmony.
Roughly 2000 years ago, Indian sage Patanjali collated and systematized the practice of yoga into his classical work called Yoga Sutra. The Sutra is a collection of 195 statements that serves as a philosophical guidebook for most of the yoga that is practiced today.
Yoga Sutra outlines an eight limbed path that forms the structural frame work for yoga practice.
1. Yamas (restraints)
2. Niyamas (observances)
3. Asana (postures)
4. Pranayama (breathing)
5. Pratyahara (withdrawal of senses)
6. Dharana (concentration)
7. Dhyana (meditation)
8. Samadhi(absorption or balance)
What is Hatha Yoga?
Hatha Yoga focuses on the third and fourth limb of yoga and therefore is a popular yoga choice in today’s fitness community. It is a generic term that refers to any type of yoga that teaches physical postures coupled with breathing.
The word “hatha” literally means force, and is derived from Sanskrit words “ha” means sun and “tha” meaning moon. The word yoga is derived from a Sanskrit word “yuj” which means ‘to yoke’ or ‘bind’ and is often interpreted as “union” or a “method of discipline”. Hatha yoga therefore translates to practice that brings union of pairs of opposite.
Hatha Yoga comprises of a set of asanas that are designed to align the body in a certain way that facilitates various energy channels in the body; so that energy can flow freely. It is a powerful tool for self transformation as it eases physical and mental obstacles. Regular practice of Hatha Yoga creates a path to explore the next limbs of yoga namely: pratyahara (withdrawal of senses), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation), and samadhi (absorption or balance).
The main principle behind the practice of Hatha Yoga is breathing. Controlling our breath can help improve oxygenation in the body and reduces stress levels. Therefore, this practice encourages us to focus on our breath, maintain steady balance and promotes stillness in mind.
Benefits of Hatha Yoga
1. Maintaining a healthy body
Hatha Yoga helps in losing weight. Not only does it help one drop the extra kilos, but it also strengthens the body from inside, thereby improving metabolism and strengthening immune system. Breathing helps in maintaining a healthy mind which is mentally and emotionally well balanced.
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2. Stress Reliever
It can be a great stress reliever and is helpful in detoxifying mind and body. After a tiring day at work or at school, try one or two repetitions of Suryanamaskar followed by some deep breathing. You will immediately notice a sense of calmness.
Must read : How Yoga Transforms Your Body – A Complete Guide
3. Flow of energy or Prana
Prana is a type of energy in the human body. It means ‘Universal life Force’. Each human being is born with a certain amount of energy which is responsible for the body’s life and maintenance. Over time and usage, this prana diminishes and makes the body weak. Breathing techniques and yogic postures helps in regulating and maintaining this vital form of energy, hence increasing the longevity of life.
Also read : How To Do Surya Namaskar – Sun Salutation?
4. Improves flexibility
Flexibility is very important in maintaining an agile and supple body. Inflexible muscles can lead to bad body posture, back ache, knee discomfort and neck pain. By practicing yoga regularly, body posture is corrected and muscles become flexible. Attaining difficult yoga postures also become easy.
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5. Builds muscle strength & Improves Balance
Healthy muscles allow us to move freely and keep our body strong. Building muscle strength helps in keeping joints in good shape preventing various ailments like arthritis. Strong muscles also help in maintaining the balance of the body especially during old age.
Also read : 15 Powerful Yoga Asanas To Get Rid Of Belly Fat
6. Helps you focus
Do you face difficulty in focusing during a lecture or presentation? Try Hatha yoga! Holding asanas require focus and deep breathing in order to balance the body, thereby making the mind more alert and sharp.
Must read : 8 Powerful Yoga Asanas To Boost Your Stamina
7. Increases blood flow
Asanas such as shoulder stand, head stand or hand stand encourages blood to flow from legs to the heart, and later pumps it to the lungs for it to oxygenate, making one feel energetic and refreshed after his/her practice.
8. Makes you happier
Regular practice promotes a happy body, which fosters a happy mind. A happy mind makes a happy you!
Must read : Sudarshan Kriya Yoga For Peace & Harmony
Hatha yoga has a lot to offer for beginners and advanced practitioners of all ages. Its intensity can also be modified depending upon the level one wants. Unlike other forms of yoga like Vinyasa or Ashtanga Yoga, Hatha Yoga does not focus on the flow of the movement from one pose to the other. Rather, it focuses on each pose independently. One can do a pose and come out of it and then change to another pose without impacting the overall effect of the practice.
It is a powerful way of living that can help you identify your hidden physical and mental potentials.