Hatha yoga is commonly referred to as the practice that brings two opposing forces together. ‘Ha’ means the sun; ‘tha’ means the moon – or the Pingala and Ida according to Hindu local dialect.
In other literature, Hatha refers to ‘stubbornness,’ and in its broadest definition, is the practice of all the physical techniques that involve the asana. Hatha yoga brings together techniques of Iyengar, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Iyengar, and Power Yoga during the practice.
Origin of Hatha Yoga
According to Hindu mythology, Hatha yoga was founded by Lord Shiva himself, and the physical postures only became prominent in the 20th century. Recent studies on the benefits of this practice have made this form of yoga popular among practitioners.
How Is Hatha Yoga Performed?
Hatha yoga sequences require you to understand and listen to your body in order to perform yogasanas or kriyas (gestures and postures) effectively.
Some of the prime aspects associated with Hatha yoga involve the following three attributes:
- Dhāraṇā (elements)
- Nādānusandhāna (internal resonation)
- Physical body
Hatha yoga involves a smooth flow of energy between the poses, slow-paced stretching, and simple breathing kriyas or meditation techniques. Over the years, several modifications have been introduced and combined with the traditional techniques, however, the foundation of Hatha yoga that includes relaxation, meditation, and stretching have remained the same.
Hatha Yoga Techniques
There are five distinct techniques involved in Hatha yoga that include the following:
Yogasanas involve techniques that help rejuvenate the mind and increase self-awareness in the individual. This technique involves performing powerful asanas that work to enhance the positive energy present in the mind and body.
2. Panchbhuta Asana
Panchbhita Asana involves purifying and cleansing the elements of the human body. The practice involves performing different postures and poses that work together to alleviate the mind from negative energy.
Angamardana involves more than 30 practices that promote vigor and boost mental health. This technique is also beneficial for maintaining physical health.
Upayoga asana involves a system of 10 practices that work on various muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints, to distribute positive energy within the inner core. Additionally, Upayoga improves blood circulation within the body and, therefore, helps to provide nourishment to muscles and organs.
5. Surya Asana
Surya Asana’s main focus is mental health and inner core development. The practice consists of 21 steps that put your whole body to work.
Benefits of Hatha Yoga
Hatha yoga is a preparatory phase prior to yoga that pushes the individuals beyond their potential limitations.
Some of the added benefits of Hatha yoga include the following:
- Reduces stress and feelings of anxiety
- Boosts happiness
- Maintains a healthy mind and body
- Helps to regulate the flow of energy or Prana in our bodies
- Improves flexibility
- Enhances concentration and focus
- Increases blood flow
Kramas Of Hatha Yoga
In Sanskrit, Krama means “succession,” which represents the step-by-step progression into a deeper or more challenging pose.
There are four different varieties of Kramas that include the following:
Rakshana Krama deals with the relaxation techniques. The main objective is to help the body relax and maintain mental and physical health. Rakshana Krama is a beneficial practice for individuals who suffer from psychological disorders.
Chikitsa Krama works on the whole body and helps to restore the physical, psychological and spiritual balance. This type of Hatha yoga can be an effective way to help treat physical illnesses.
Siksana Krama targets all the asanas to lead them to perfection. From prayanama exercises to meditation techniques, this practice governs all the fundamental aspects of Hatha yoga.
Adhyatmika Krama strengthens the inner core of the body and promotes spiritual satisfaction.
Precautions to Take with Hatha Yoga
Hatha yoga is safe and appropriate for individuals in every age group. However, there are a few precautions one must take before engaging in this practice, especially if you suffer from any chronic illnesses.
- People with a history of glaucoma, cardiovascular disease, and sciatica should avoid this practice. Since this technique involves strenuous physical effort, chances are it might aggravate the persisting conditions.
- Pregnant women are not recommended to practice Hatha yoga due to the serious complications that can occur to the developing fetus.
- People with acute intestinal disorders should avoid practicing Hatha yoga.
- Consult your doctor before engaging in Hatha yoga, especially if you suffer from chronic conditions and are under any type of medications for a prolonged period of time.
Hatha Yoga and Balance
Hatha yoga’s primary focus is about finding your balance. By working with your body to release tension and stress, you ultimately create a safe space for yourself that serves as an opportunity to develop spiritual growth and build inner peace.
1. How many calories can you burn during Hatha yoga?
On average, you can burn between 175 to 298 calories in a 60-minute Hatha yoga session.
2. How often should you practice Hatha yoga?
Hatha yoga can be practiced about three times a week, however, it is important to listen to your body. Start slowly and practice a little yoga every day until you are comfortable to take your practice to new levels.
3. What are the benefits of Hatha Yoga?
As mentioned in this article, Hatha yoga has multiple benefits including stress relief, improved flexibility, and improved blood circulation.
Updated by Siya Rajan on 05/14/2018