What we commonly call yoga in the West is technically Hatha Yoga. Hatha Yoga attains the union of mind-body-spirit though a practice of asana (yoga postures), pranayama (yoga breathing), mudra (body gestures) and shatkriya (internal cleansings). These body-centred practices are used to purify the body and cultivate prana and activate kundalini, the subtle energies of the body. Many modern Hatha Yoga classes do not emphasize many of these esoteric practices and focuses primarily on the yoga postures.
Hatha Yoga is a branch of yoga which came out of a deep respect and interest in the well being of the body, which was considered a sacred vessel for the soul. Hatha Yoga uses postures and breathing techniques to help bring the body into a state of health and well being so that the more subtle spiritual elements of the mind may freely emerge. Hatha Yoga, when practiced sincerely and with open heart and mind, will bring about a new unity between the material projection of the body and the non-material soul.
The word hatha means sun(ha) and moon (tha). The incoming breath is called (ha) the sun breath and the outgoing breath is (tha) the moon breath. Therefore Hatha Yoga creates a sense of balance in the body, mind and soul. Hatha Yoga is a system which perfects the body consciously and fills it with life force.
THE BENEFITS OF HATHA YOGA
Yoga exercises, such as gentle stretching, breathing, meditation and guided relaxation, release body tension and calm the nervous system and emotions.
Focus, attention and concentration are promoted by a yoga practice of mindful movement and body awareness. The practice of balancing postures, in particular, builds concentration.
Holding yoga postures creates isometric exercise which tones every part of the body, including the internal organs.
Yoga exercises the glands, organs and endocrine system, massaging, toning and increasing circulation to stimulate, heal, and eliminate toxins from the body.
Yoga postures gently stretch the muscles in the body, increasing the flexibility and lengthening the muscles, tendons and ligaments.
Slow, gentle movements with deep breathing energize the body rather than tire it. This, in combination with yoga’s relaxation and healing benefits, allows daily renewal and nourishment of the body-mind-spirit.
by Danielle Bryant BSYA