Hatha Yoga can be regarded as a preparatory process of yoga. The word “ha” means sun, “ta” means moon. “Hatha” means the yoga form targeted at bringing in the sense of balance between the sun and moon within the body. Hatha Yoga typically involves a set of physical postures (yoga poses) and breathing techniques, practiced more slowly and in a relatively static manner. In India, hatha yoga is associated in popular tradition with the Yogis of the Natha Sampradaya through its traditional founder Matsyendranath. In the 20th century, the development of hatha yoga, focusing particularly on asanas (the physical postures), became popular throughout the world as a form of physical exercise. This modern form of yoga is now widely known simply as “yoga”.
Hatha Yoga includes the practice of asanas (yoga postures) and pranayama(breathing exercise), which help bring peace to mind and body, preparing the body for deeper spiritual practices such as meditation. Hatha Yoga germinates from a deep understanding of the mechanics of the body and your yogic postures, or yoga asanas, to enable the system to sustain a higher dimension of energy. By practising this profound science, one can change and enhance the way of thinking, feeling and experiencing life. Hatha yoga fosters to create a body that is not a hurdle in life. The body becomes a stepping stone in progress towards blossoming into the ultimate possibility of life. This form of yoga wants the practitioners to make their comfort zone universal, instead of the small band or area of life. Hence, it can be said that Hatha Yoga is a path towards creating balance and uniting opposites. It not only envisages to develop a balance of strength and flexibility but also learns to balance the efforts in life and surrender to each pose of this form of yoga.
Benefits of Hatha Yoga
Hatha Yoga is a powerful tool for self-transformation. Here are some of the benefits of Hatha Yoga.
The core is the centre of the body, including the spine, hips and abs. Strong core muscles are important for performing routine activities from getting out of bed, bending over to tie your shoelace and lifting the things up. Hence core strength proves to be a pertinent factor in maintaining a healthy physique. Weak core muscles affect your endurance and restrict your ability to bend or stretch your body. Hatha Yoga is a great way to improve the core strength of your spine and improves your ability to twist and bend as well.
Certain hatha yoga poses to improve cardiovascular health, enhance lung capacity and strengthen the respiratory system of the body. It also promotes calmness and relief, thereby reducing the occurrence of hypertension, which is one of the leading causes of heart problems. Moreover, they improve blood circulation and minimize inflammation, as well. Hatha yoga involves deep breathing exercises to calm down blood pressure. Mind-calming meditation is another important part of this Yoga form, which eases the nervous system and stress. All these together can help in preventing heart diseases.
Poor diet, lack of sleep, high-stress toxins and several medications take a heavy toll on the immune system. With a weaker immune system, we are prone to certain infections and diseases. Hatha yoga helps strengthen the immune system. It supports the lymphatic system that protects the body from disease and infection. Besides, it lowers stress that negatively affects the immune system . Hatha Yoga also keeps the inflammatory level in check, to prevent immune system disorders.
Popular poses of Hatha Yoga
Let you have a look at some of the popular Hatha Yoga poses
Adho Mukha Svanasana ( Downward facing dog Pose):
This is one of the key asanas in most Hatha Yoga systems. It is said to help in increasing bone density and the reduction of fatigue in the body. This pose also stretches the body and helps you get rid of stiffness and pain. It also promotes blood circulation in the body and provides for increased metabolism and immunity. To perform this asana, you need to lie on your stomach on the floor or yoga mat. Now lift your body on all four limbs and try bringing the hands and legs close to each other, mimicking a mountain like- posture. Having held the position for some time, release it slowly. While performing this pose, you can feel the body area undergoing compression, while in real, facilitates weight loss.
Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
This asana gives the abdomen a good stretch, and you are an excellent yoga for belly fat posture. Essentially targeted for relaxing the lower back, this asana posture works on strengthening the abdominal muscles. Here, you need to lie on the floor face down and spread the hands on the floor, next to your shoulders. Stretch your legs back and top of the feet touching the floor and slowly inhale and lift your upper body. Hold the position for 25 to 3o seconds. Come back to the original position and exhale. It is advisable to repeat the asana at least ten times and work up to 30 times gradually.
Triangle Pose- (Trikonasana):
Another yoga asana in this system of Hatha Yoga is Trikonasana. While doing this pose, you need to alternate on both of your left and right side, whilst forming a triangle. This pose helps your spine generate flexibility when you lean sideways, and it helps in reducing spondylitis. Also, it is important to ensure that your shoulders align with one another when leaning.
The Corpse Pose (Savasana)
This pose traces its roots from the ancient times of Lord Buddha. It is one of the four main meditation poses taught by Gautama himself. Savasana requires you to lie on the back with feet about 12-18 inches apart and arms side just a few inches from the torso, with palms facing up. It allows the body to surrender to gravity. It is an essential yoga for mindfulness asana, as it brings in the sense of tranquillity and calmness within the body.
Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend)
This poses not only aids in attaining a toned body, but also reaches a praise-worthy level of the stretch of hamstrings, thighs, and hips. It also helps in the removal of digestive disorders. For this yoga pose, you need to sit on the floor, keeping the spine straight and stretching your legs to the front. Inhaling deeply, stretch your hands above your head, before bending your elbows. Your gaze should follow your hands. Exhale while bending forward and bringing your hands down and trying to touch the toes. Once done, try holding and pulling them backwards till you experience stretch on the hamstrings. Hold the position and thus exhale, lest bringing your body upward to rest.
Vrkshasana (Tree Pose)
Vrikshasana is the posture of standing in the form of a tree, as steadily as possible, to improve balance, focus, and mental clarity. Here the practitioner is required to stand on one leg with the other leg bent, so the footrests on the side of the thigh. Also, the hands are extended overhead with the palms. The idea behind asana is to feel as firm as a tree while balancing one leg to the other to invoke concentration and mindfulness. It is a relatively easy pose, which can be performed by the older lot and reap the benefits of yoga. The Tree pose is very helpful for improving the balance of the body and also strengthens the ligaments and tendon of the feet to attain stability of legs
Hatha Yoga has a lot of benefits associated with the physical being. It should be kept in mind that yoga is a spiritual practice intended to draw practitioners into progressively deepening states of self-realization and liberation and hence, the same benefits will be experienced too. Hatha yoga is easy to start but takes a longer time to be mastered to serve its actual purpose. Hence it is advisable to be patient.
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See Also: Wikipedia On Hatha Yoga