Hatha Yoga: An Overview
Hatha yoga is one of the four main traditions of Tantra Yoga. Hatha yoga is mainly practiced for health and vitality in this modern age. It comes from the words “Ha” meaning sun and “Tha” meaning moon unites in Hatha Yoga. It is commonly translated as the yoga, which brings combination “of the pairs of opposites.”
It is the symbolic combination of active and passive energies, the opposites. Hatha yoga is sometimes also known as “forceful yoga.” It is from this yoga that several other styles of yoga originated including Power yoga, Bikram yoga, and Kundalini yoga.
History of Hatha Yoga
Hatha Yoga is a system of yoga introduced by Yogi Swatmarama, a yogic sage in the 15th century in India. It is introduced to modern society by T. Krishnamacharya, a yoga teacher in Mysore Palace in south India, in late 19th century.
His disciples B.K.S. Iyengar, K.Pattabhi Jois and Indira Devi, and his son T.K.V. Desikachar, were involved in setting up their schools and spreading Yoga all over the world, especially in America.
Hatha Yoga tries to attain balance between body and mind, and also tries to free the more subtle spiritual elements of the mind through physical asanas, pranayama, and meditation.
It basically concentrates on the practice of asanas and pranayama to energize the subtle channels. Therefore it focuses mainly on the 3rd and 4th steps in the eight limbs of yoga.
These are the various body positions, which help in the improvement of health and removing of diseases in the physical, causal, and subtle bodies. Actually, the word “asana” means “seat” in Sanskrit, which not only refers to the physical position of the body but also to the body position in relation to divinity.
These asanas are originally meant for Meditation, as the postures can make you feel relaxed for extended time period. A yoga practitioner can improve the flexibility of the muscles and bone strength, as well as non-physical rewards such as the development of will power, concentration, and self-withdrawal by practicing these asanas regularly.
Pranayama is derived from the words prana, which means life or energy source and ayama, which means to control. It is the science of breath control. It is very essential for a yoga practitioner to practice pranayama in hatha yoga for mastering ones’ breathing patterns. The mastery of mind is within reach if one can master breath.
The flow of prana or vital life force through the body is regulated through breathing exercises. That energy is definitely required on the further steps of Hatha Yoga that ultimately may lead to samadhi.
In Special breathing techniques, the flow of breath though both nostrils are alternated, this brings balance to the two hemispheres of the brain, which is possibly the central objective of Pranayama. Kundalini Energy is also activated with the pranayama.
Some asanas are helpful in toning up your internal organs, and thereby preventing diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, and hypertension. They also bring balance to internal and glandular functions. In contrast, pranayama in hatha yoga can help manage asthma and bronchitis.