What is Hatha Yoga?
Hatha Yoga or Hatha Vidya is an ancient and classic style of yoga described by Yogi Swatmarama in the 15th century in India. Hatha Yoga acts as a preparatory stage of physical purification for advanced meditation or Yoga. Hatha Yoga is based on pranayama which in English means breathing techniques and yoga poses also called as asanas. Traditional Hatha Yoga includes disciplines, yoga poses (yoga asana), breathing techniques (pranayama), purificatory procedures (shatkriya), gestures (mudra) and meditation. Hatha yoga is known for its ability to reduce stress.
Hatha Yoga Is Founded On Six Limbs Which Are:
Hatha Yoga and Raja Yoga
Hatha Yoga is one of the two divisions of yoga which focuses on the physical aspect. The other division is Raja Yoga. Both of these two divisions of yoga are commonly known as Sadanga Yoga, which means yoga consisting of six parts; where 'sad' means six and 'anga' means limbs. According to old texts, Hatha Yoga cannot exist without Raja Yoga and vice versa. The main difference between the two is that Hatha Yoga comprises of cultural postures along with meditative postures; whereas Raja Yoga focuses more on asanas in order to prepare the body for prolonged meditation. Some of the meditative asanas include:
- Lotus Posture also known as Padmasana
- Accomplished Posture also known as Siddhasana.
- Easy Posture also known as Sukhasana
- Pelvic Posture also known as Vajrasana.
Hatha Yoga also embodies opposing energies such as heat and cold (fire and water) which is similar to the concept of yin-yang, male and female, positive and negative. Hatha Yoga tries to balance mind and body through yoga poses, purification rituals, focused breathing, and relaxing the mind through meditation. These yoga asanas help in giving you a better poise, balance and strength along with improving physical health and emptying the mind for better meditation. Purification procedures become mandatory in conditions where an individual has excessive phlegm or fat.
What are the Benefits of Hatha Yoga?
- The controlled breathing in Hatha Yoga helps in increasing the oxygenation of the body which in turn reduces stress.
- Helps to relax.
- Gives a better sense of well being.
- Improved overall health.
- Helps in losing weight.
- Increases flexibility, stability and strength.
There are other aspects of Hatha Yoga which also help in relaxation and in fighting the pressures/stresses of today's world. Hatha Yoga is considered a historical preparation for advanced meditation. Hatha Yoga practiced by the Westerners comprises mostly of asanas or postures which are assumed as physical exercises.
Nowadays, Hatha Yoga consists of mild, slow and basic movements which have minimal flow between the poses. It often consists of slow-paced stretching movements along with some basic breathing exercises and sometimes seated meditation too. Hatha Yoga is completely opposite of Vinyasa Yoga, which consists of fluid movements and transitions from one pose to another.
Hatha Yoga is useful for those individuals who want to learn the beginners' poses, relaxation techniques and in general it serves as a good method of getting introduced to Yoga.