What Is Hatha Yoga?

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Nowadays, a branch of yoga, known as Hatha Yoga is becoming more and more famous. Hatha Yoga is the most well-known and widespread system in the west. Many also call it Western Yoga. Yoga in ancient times was likened to a tree, a living organism consisting of roots, a trunk, branches, flowers and fruits.

One of the branches

Hatha Yoga is one of these 6 branches. The rest are Karma, Raja, Bharti, Jnana and Tantra Yoga. Each branch represents a different approach to life and has its own characteristics as well as functions. Hatha Yoga is one of the foundations of the tantric tradition and is directly related to Kundalini Yoga. 

What it means in Sanskrit

Many of these trails have a lot in common. Some may find a branch more suitable for them than another. Activity in one does not mean you can’t follow another. What does Hatha mean?

Hatha in Sanskrit means the union of the Sun and the Moon. More specifically, Ha means Sun, which represents the solar energy in the universe and respectively the bodily energy in man. Tha or Ta (as it is often pronounced) means moon, which represents the lunar energy in the universe and respectively the mental-emotional energy in man. The main goal of Hatha Yoga is to bring about a balance between these two energies. 

hatha yoga

Tradition

The tradition of Hatha Yoga has gone through various stages over the years, up to the widespread acceptance it enjoys today. Initially, it was misunderstood and treated with suspicion. But today the western world has incorporated yoga into the infinite needs of the modern individual, transforming it into gymnastics, therapy, the art of living, applications to enrich all kinds of religious practices.

What happens in America

According to the Yoga Journal, 12 million people in America, do Hatha Yoga, which is the physical side of Yoga. In combination with psychological discipline, it balances the body’s functions by taming thinking with controlled breathing. Thinking and breathing are perfectly connected to each other in the yogic tradition.

 Techniques

The techniques used in Yoga consist of physical exercises (asanas), meditation techniques and breathing practice (pranayama) as well as deep relaxation (yoga nidra). Hatha Yoga refers to a group of physical exercises known as asanas, which balance and align the body. 

Asanas

The asanas open the energy channels of the body, and especially the spine, which is the main channel, so that the energy (prana) flows freely. Asana means a state of being in which one can remain physically and mentally stable, relaxed, calm and comfortable. Asanas are specific body postures that release the flow of energy (Prana) into the body’s energy channels (Nandis).

Asanas provide a solid foundation for exploring the body, the breath and the mind. Those who take part in a Hatha Yoga class discover that asanas also develop mind control. The Yogic scriptures say that there were originally 8,400,000 asanas.

Hatha yoga in practice In gyms where a yoga class takes place, Hatha Yoga is better known as a combination of physical exercise and deep relaxation. Today more and more people are learning and coming closer to this combination. Finally, Hatha Yoga emphasizes the quality of movement rather than quantity, and is very different from any other type of exercise because it strengthens the muscles without straining them.

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