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.