I was asked this question last week… What is Hatha Yoga? Hatha Yoga is the Yoga of asana – the physical postures. The whole body, mind and spirit is connected together through the practice. Yoga means to “yoke” “unite” to “connect” and Hatha is a pathway to connection. A Hatha Yoga class will include pranyama (breath practice) and meditation along with the physical postures. Generally we begin with centering, then warm up starting on the floor, then working to standing postures, then working the way back down to the floor for more postures and finally working the way to Savasana – a meditative relaxation to integrate the practice.
All of the different styles of Yoga find a home base in Hatha Yoga and were later modified into different styles, but the roots and basics are Hatha. This style of Yoga usually has longer holds and will be slower pace than a vinyasa or flow class. Hatha Yoga connects and energizes all layers (koshas) of body, mind and spirit. From the teachings of Yoga we learn that the physical postures were designed to make it easy for Yogis to sit and meditate for long periods. Physical postures prepared the body, allowed tension to release which allowed the mind to settle. Ahhh… yes…try to tame our “Monkey Mind” 🙂 On a side note – I actually have come to appreciate my monkey mind now in meditation, because of the creativity and ideas that flow.
Through Hatha Yoga we build strength and flexibility in mind -body- spirit. We may notice we become stronger and more flexible off the mat as well and deal with the stressors of life a little easier. Practice…practice 🙂 The Sanskrit word “Ha-tha” breaks down to mean “Sun-Moon” – opposites. Yoga brings union of the masculine, heat, Yang, “sun” energy and the feminine, cooling, Yin “moon” energy and we are brought into balance through our practice. These energies balance each other out – everything is connected.
Hatha Yoga allows us to gather all of our energy (prana) together… united… and at the end of a Yoga class that feeling of wholeness is undeniable.
Namaste – Kerry
Asanas are not just physical exercises: they have biochemical, psycho-physiological and psycho-spiritual effects. The cells of the body have their own intelligence and memory. Through practice of different asanas blood circulation is improved, the hormone system is balanced, the nervous system is stimulated, and toxins are eliminated, so that the cells, sinews and nerves are kept at their peak level. Physical, mental, and spiritual health and harmony are attained. – BKS Iyengar