Hatha yoga is a classical form of yoga, one of the oldest known forms, and one of the first forms to be introduced in the Western world. Most other commonly practiced forms of yoga are considered to have been developed from Hatha yoga.
What is Hatha Yoga?
Hatha yoga aims to achieve a state of equilibrium within the body and mind. It focuses mainly on asanas (body postures) and pranayama (breathing) and is more static than other forms of yoga.
According to some definitions, “ha” can be interpreted as “sun” and “tha” as “moon”, with the aim of Hatha yoga being to unite these forces and bring them into balance within the body. Another definition of the Sanskrit word “hatha” is “force” or “forceful”, indicating that Hatha yoga is a more physical, powerful form of yoga.
Originally, hatha yoga was practised by monks in preparation for meditation and to stay healthy, since it deepened the connection between body and mind, released tension, and brought them to a state of relaxation. The original meaning of the word “asana” even refers to a seated position for meditation.
Hatha yoga has undergone many changes over the years, and now includes a wide range of asanas, which are carried out together with breathing techniques. During a Hatha yoga class, you will usually start with some form of relaxation, and then carry out a combination of powerful and more relaxed asanas, holding each pose for some time as you focus on your breathing. This is different from more dynamic forms of yoga, such as Vinyasa yoga, where you might flow seamlessly from one pose to another. The class will then usually end with another form of relaxation.
You will also notice that during a hatha yoga class, the instructor will usually guide you through the practice but not correct your technique, because the purpose of hatha yoga is to turn inward and let go of the ego, and not to focus on external influences.
What are the benefits of Hatha Yoga?
Practising Hatha yoga has a wide variety of benefits. It helps you achieve a sense of balance and inner peace and helps you feel more connected with yourself and everything around you. It also improves your strength and flexibility, promotes blood blow and spinal health, and helps you optimise your breathing. Other benefits include increased mindfulness, energy, and focus.
What are some of the most common asanas in Hatha Yoga?
According to the ancient texts, there are 84 main Hatha yoga asanas. However, not all of these are described in detail in the texts, and have therefore been lost to us.
Some of the most common Hatha yoga asanas that are practised today include:
- Crow pose
- Cobra pose
- Downward facing dog
- Spinal twist pose
- Lotus pose
- Mountain pose
- Corpse pose
- Bow pose
- Locust pose
- Fish pose
- Head stand
- Shoulder stand
During a Hatha yoga class, you will usually hold the poses for longer than what you would during a class focused on a more dynamic type of yoga.
Who is Hatha Yoga suitable for?
Hatha yoga is a moderately intense form of yoga, and it is suitable for everyone, from beginners to more experienced yogi. Classes may be offered at various levels, so it is a good idea to ask about the level before starting a new class.
If you are looking for a form of yoga that will help you feel balanced, at peace, and more connected with your body and mind, and that is also easy to get started, then Hatha yoga is a great choice for you.
Are you keen to try it yourself? Enquire about starting a hatha yoga class here.