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What Is Hatha Yoga?

Mar 13, 2010

Hatha yoga is a popular yoga choice in today's fitness community. Groups and individuals use this ancient, classic yoga style to get fit and encourage a healthy mind-body connection. Knowing more about Hatha yoga will help fitness beginners see more about how this traditional yoga practice informs newer yoga styles and brings a lot of authentic principles to a yoga routine.

Origins of Hatha Yoga

According to some practitioners, Hatha yoga dates back to the 15th century. Scholars refer to a treatise or publication known as the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, where some elements of Hatha yoga are indicated. Hatha yoga was a specific type of yoga activity that, in earlier times, prepared participants for meditating for a very long time.

What Hatha Yoga Means

Hatha yoga is sometimes called a "dual" type of yoga because it includes a duality between two opposites: the sun (in Hinda, "ha") and the moon ("tha"). Some who practice Hatha yoga call it a "yoking" yoga as it joins these two opposites together. This main established principle for Hatha yoga leads to specific structured poses and other activities that help with body and mind "purification" through principles like asana (postures), pranayama (subtle energy control) and more.

More About the Structure of Hatha Yoga

In addition to the above mentioned opposites, sometimes also referred to as hot and cold, male and female, etc., Hatha yoga includes the concept of multiple "limbs" or areas of the yoga practice. Where some common yoga forms such as Ashtanga yoga are built on eight limbs, Hatha yoga, according to experts, is often based on six, each of which represent a critical component of the whole, whether it has to do with readying the mind for meditation, controlling breathing or focusing on another particular task.

Hatha Yoga and Other Derivative Forms

As a traditionally established type of yoga, Hatha yoga sometimes lends its historical weight to other more modern styles. For example, the yoga form known as Anusara yoga, established in the late 20th century by a man named John Friend, uses Hatha yoga as the basis for many of its activities and ideas. It's likely that beginning yoga participants will find elements of Hatha yoga in their group or individual sessions, or in translated handbooks disseminated to a Western audience.

Benefits of Hatha Yoga

Those who take the time to study this ancient yoga art understand that there are some specific benefits of becoming adept at practicing Hatha yoga style. One of the main ones stems from one of the pillars of the Hatha style: breathing. Controlling breath can help improve oxygenation of the body and alleviate stress in some forms. Other elements of Hatha yoga also help with relaxing the body and fighting the stresses of the modern world. As a historical preparation for intensive meditation, Hatha yoga has a lot to offer a modern Western audience.

Find out more about Hatha yoga to make it part of a daily or periodic fitness exercise regimen that works for you.

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