What is Hatha Yoga?
Hatha Yoga is a system of Yoga that was introduced in the 15th Century by an Indian Sage, Swami Swatmarama . It is one of the four main traditions of Tantra Yoga. It is from this Hatha Yoga that many forms of yoga that we now see in the west have evolved; Ashtanga, Iyegnar, Kundalini, Anusara, Bikram, to name but a few.
Hatha orginates from two words, Ha (sun) and Tha (moon). Yoga aids the human body to unite the right (sun) and left (moon) side of the body (also known as Yin and Yang/ Masculine & Feminine), so that we become more balanced in both body and mind . The word’ Yu’ from which yoga originates mean to unite (yolk).
Hatha Yoga has eight limbs/parts but classes generally focus on asana (postures) and pranayama (breath control), although they are only the third and fourth step of the eight-fold (ashtanga) path.
By developing our mastery of the asanas (postures), we also develop strength and flexibility as well as concentration and will-power. The practice of asana also invigorates the body by opening the energy channels (nadis). Breath-control (pranayama), is a technique where we learn to manipulate the breath in order to balance our energy.
Both Asana (postures) and Pranayama (breath-control ) prepare our body for the other parts of the eight-fold path, Pratyahara (sense-withdrawal), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi (enlightenment).