What is Hatha Yoga?
The most famous scripture detailing the practice of hatha yoga is the hathayogapradipika, compiled in the 15th century. it details the yoga practice, and how liberation (moksha) is to be attained. It consists of four chapters and covers asana, pranayama, cleanses, the chakras, as well as much more.
In modern times, when we refer to a class or practice as hatha, it is normally associated with asanas, pranayama, and meditation. The poses are often held for longer periods of time, than perhaps in a vinyasa or ashtanga yoga class.
Hatha yoga is usually translated as either the state of yoga (union) achieved by force, or the forceful yoga (as a practice). It often carries this dual meaning; it is both the result and the path. The more common usage is the first translation, and thus, hatha can be viewed as a set of practices that lead to the state of yoga. Therefore all branches of modern yoga practice that involve ‘force’ are under the umbrella term of hatha (vinyasa, ashtanga, iyengar etc).
The word hatha means sun and moon. The two sanksrit roots of the word are ha, meaning sun, and tha, meaning moon. As a result, this provides the popular translation that hatha is to unify the sun and the moon inside oneself. Nevertheless, if one looks back into the historical tradition of hatha yoga, it is clear that the translation as force is to be preferred. This is not to suggest that a forceful practice means hurting yourself or pushing beyond your physical capacities. Rather, force refers to anything done with the body. This includes breathing, chanting, moving and mental visualisations.
Why should I practice hatha yoga?
Hatha yoga is a great way to strengthen the body and mind. It allows practitioners to be able to remain more present in everyday situations. They do not have to deal with physical pains (lower back, knees, hips), as well as mental (anxiety stress fear).
The practice of hatha allows the student to develop an inner calmness. In ancient times, yogis would often live secluded from the world in caves. However, in todays society, the practice can be used to help the householder and everyday person. The practice can improve their wellbeing and life satisfaction.
Once you have developed a strong inner focus and concentration, you will find that your mind begins to wander less. During stressful situations, you can stay present and level headed, thus, in a better position to take the appropriate decision. When we allow our thoughts to control us, with no way of recognising the pattern, lots of unwanted suffering begins to occur. The practice of yoga is the union of the inner self with the universal. Recognising there is no seperation. It is only the chains of ego or individual perception that is causing us to suffer unnecessarily.
hatha yoga is a system through force to achieve yoga (divine union), which in turn leads to liberation. If you wish to learn more about this wonderful practice, and explore the opportunity of learning in the spiritual home of yoga, please visit our other pages: