What is Hatha Yoga and What are the Benefits? “Hatha Yoga teaches us to use the body as the bow, asana as the arrow, and the soul the target” – B.K.S. Iyengar The practice of Yoga has taken the world by storm. People all over the globe are learning this art to stay healthy, fit, and happy as well. Further, there is an increasing inclination towards Hatha Yoga wherein the focus is not just on one’s health but also on the awakening of the energies residing within the body. Basically, Hatha Yoga represents the physical postures of yoga but also helps in revitalizing the mind. What is Hatha Yoga? Hatha yoga is a combination of two words where ‘Ha’ stands for the sun and ‘Tha’ stands for the moon. This means Hatha Yoga is the Yoga of Balance. It balances the energy of the sun and the moon in the body. In Hindi, Hatha also means force. And hence, Hatha Yoga is also considered as the Yoga of activity. While practicing Hatha Yoga, one needs to master a set of physical postures known as yoga asanas along with several breathing techniques known as pranayama. These postures are practiced slowly staying still, focusing more on the art, as compared to other forms of yoga. Hatha Yoga – A Path to Enlightenment Hatha Yoga includes yoga asanas, pranayama, mantra recitation or chanting, mudra or hand gestures, cleaning techniques or shatkriyas, and also different kinds of visualization techniques and finally when everything else is mastered, the practitioner moves on to meditation. Hatha Yoga balances the positive (Solar) and negative (Lunar) energies present in the body. It acts as a bridge between the human body and spiritual awakening. It is believed that to practice meditation, one needs to first perfect the posture of the body. And that is what one learns through the practice of Hatha Yoga. Hatha Yoga eases the path to meditation. Hatha Yoga – The Requirements Just like to prepare food, you will need ingredients, to perfect Hatha Yoga, you will need to possess some qualities to master it. These are enthusiasm to learn, perseverance, the art of discrimination, constant faith, and finally courage. Enthusiasm – to learn anything, one needs to cultivate an interest in the same. Without interest or inclination, the person will not possess the will to carry on the path and overcome the challenges that are encountered. Perseverance – it refers to continuing the efforts through regular practice. The practitioner requires determination to learn the postures and then perfect them. Discrimination – it means the practitioner should learn to discriminate between the lifestyle choices, what will help him or her to accomplish the purpose and what will help defeat the same Constant Faith – the practitioner needs to have unshakable faith. One needs to have the unwavering trust on his own self to succeed on the path Courage – here, courage requires the practitioner to be brave to accept the weaknesses or vulnerability. When a person knows his weaknesses, it becomes easier for him to understand his own self better and eventually conquer the hurdles. The Benefits of Hatha Yoga As explained earlier, Hatha Yoga is not just about physical aspects but also about the soul and its awakening. Hatha Yoga practitioners experience both physical and mental fitness. Physical Benefits 1. Muscular Strength When practiced on a regular basis, Hatha Yoga asanas or poses help improve the core strength of the body. All the muscles present within the body get a complete workout. When the muscles are strong, one does not face difficulty performing routine activities like climbing the stairs or as simple as bending to pick something. Hatha Yoga helps in strengthening the spine and improves its ability to a great extent. 2. Balance and Posture Hatha Yoga asanas work on the entire body, especially the spine. Through practice, one learns how to balance both hands and feet at the same time. When the entire body is aligned, one does not lose the balance during the practice. Further, the chance of injuries is reduced as well. Regular practice of the postures helps in erecting the spine and correcting the posture. 3. Cardiovascular Health Hatha Yoga involves practicing different movements of yoga at a slower pace. Diverse asanas combined with relaxing breathing techniques help the practitioner lower the blood pressure of the body and thereby calm the nervous system. The practice of specific asanas helps in reducing the heart rate. People who have earlier suffered a stroke or hypertension benefit the most out of the practice of Hatha Yoga. 4. Calms Nervous System The controlled postures involved require the practitioner to move from one asana to another in a gentle movement. The breathing technique is slow and systematic while the body of the practitioner stretches with every movement. When practiced in totality, it helps to calm down the nervous system of the body. 5. Boosts Immune System Hatha Yoga is a therapy for the body. Regular practice of asanas helps in reducing high blood pressure, lowering down the cholesterol, levels of blood sugar, and also triglyceride levels. It alleviates the stress hormones present in the body as well. The technique of controlled breathing helps in easing the heart palpitations. By improving the balance of the body, Hatha Yoga asanas relieve the symptoms of arthritis in patients. It is the best practice to boost the immune system of the body. Mental Benefits 1. Happy State of Mind It is important to calm the mind to negate emotions like irritation, anger, jealousy, and frustration. By practicing different asanas of Hatha Yoga combined with pranayama, the practitioner gets a holdover the mind and its emotions or feelings. It helps reduce the stress involved in routine activities. Hatha Yoga helps in pacifying the mind and the train of thoughts, eventually making the person tranquil and bringing him to the state of happiness. 2. Positive Attitude The basis of Hatha Yoga is developing a positive attitude. Without the same, it is difficult to learn the techniques involved. By practicing different asanas on a regular basis, the practitioner learns to balance the body. This helps in improving concentration and focusing on the positive aspects of life. The body suffers both physically and mentally on a constant basis. Hatha Yoga heals the body and the mind by transforming the outlook towards the sufferings. 3. Being in the Present When the person practices different movements involved, he stills the mind while focusing on the present moment. The thoughts of the person slow down and he experiences stillness of the moment. He realizes that he is in the present practicing the asana. 4. Restful Sleep Hatha Yoga practice helps in cultivating peaceful thoughts. This results in the acceptance of the present state of being. Practitioners experience a reduction in routine stress and attitude of positivity in daily activities. Both the physical movements and still mind contribute to deeper and restful sleep. This ultimately results in the revitalization of the body. 5. Overall Health People who practice Hatha Yoga experience stronger immunity. It helps in improving the lifestyle of the practitioner, better food choices, the disciplined cycle of sleep, and reduction in stress. The body is less prone to infections and diseases. Hatha Yoga also helps in burning calories and improving the flexibility of the body. The skin of the practitioners too goes through positive transformation. It helps in slowing down the aging process while toning the skin and preventing acne breakouts. Hatha Yoga helps the body and skin absorb the nutrients effectively and thereby improve the flow of blood. To sum up, Hatha Yoga helps in establishing a harmonious balance between body and mind. Also Read: 11 Lifestyle Changes to Live a Long, Healthy and Disciplined Lifestyle Hatha Yoga – The Spiritual Awakening Hatha Yoga involves the practice of several asanas and breathing techniques. The practice of Hatha Yoga helps cleanse the trapped energy inside the body. The different centers of energy present in the body get channelized through regular practice. This helps in awakening the Kundalini of the body. Kundalini refers to the divine feminine energy present at the base of the spine in the body, in Hinduism. When the Kundalini of the person awakens or gets active, the person attains the state of higher consciousness. Hatha Yoga – How to Begin Hatha Yoga can be learned through books or the internet, however, the best practice is to learn it under the guidance and supervision of a Guru or a teacher. The first step in Hatha Yoga is pranayama. Breathing slowly and gradually helps in calming down the body. The second step is learning the basic asanas or yoga postures. And the third step is to cool down the body post the asanas. Let’s learn Hatha Yoga Including Hatha Yoga in the present busy lifestyles proves to be beneficial. It might seem a little difficult during the early stages of the practice. However, staying determined and focused on the art and science of it gives great results. Hatha Yoga is an opportunity to unwind and awaken to the higher state of being. You can know more about Hatha Yoga and learn it from here. Cheers to a happy and healthy life.