Hatha yoga is probably the oldest form of yoga known today. It dates back 5000 years to the time of the Vedas (Holy texts) and has been practiced ever since. It is a gentler type of yoga offering more basic asana practice (postures) and breath focus (pranayama) to bring you peace and relaxation. It has many benefits and here we would like to talk about Hatha Yoga health benefits.
Knowing Hatha Yoga
Hatha yoga is known as the yoga for the physical body. Its Sanskrit name is Hatha – “Ha” which represents the sun and “tha” which represents the moon.
Hatha is translated as “sun” and “moon” (Ha-tha) and this refers to the balance of masculine aspects (active, hot, sun) and feminine aspects (receptive, cool, moon) within us all. So it can be said that Hatha yoga is a path toward creating balance and uniting opposites.
- To properly pronounce the word “Hatha,” don’t pronounce the th sound, but pronounce a hard t, so the word sounds like hot-ha.
Today, the term hatha is used in such a broad way that it is difficult to know what a particular hatha class will be like. In most cases it will be relatively gentle, slow and great for beginners or students who prefer a more relaxed style where they hold poses longer.
Any yoga practice that includes specific movements and a series of postures (asanas) is a form of hatha yoga, so unless you’re looking for a non-physical spiritual practice, you’ll want to go for hatha yoga to start.
Hatha yoga includes traditional postures, careful movements, breath, and mindfulness work aimed at keeping your mind and body feeling alive, fit, and working together in harmony. These are just a few of the benefits of Hatha yoga.
The Main Aspects of Hatha Yoga
Hatha yoga uses asanas (poses) in tandem with breath-work for the development of body-mind harmony and a goal of oneness or ‘Union”.
The main terms you will see for Hatha Yoga are:
Asanas — Yoga postures or poses
Deep breathing — A method of deep breathing using the entire lungs
Prana — A Sanskrit term for life-force or vital-air (yoga breath)
Pranayama — A Sanskrit term for the method of controlling or harnassing the prana energy
Dyana — Yoga meditation
Meditation — Techniques for mental relaxation and attaining peace
These aspects of Hatha yoga are central to its practice and form its foundation.
Hatha Yoga And Health
Hatha yoga is an ancient practice and is done by many people. Some people use it for physical exercise but overall it is more than that.
Hatha yoga does more than just burn calories and tone muscles. It’s a total mind-body workout that combines strengthening and stretching poses with deep breathing and meditation or relaxation.
Hatha yoga is not just about working out, it’s about a healthy lifestyle. It encourages overall health and wellness and helps with many things like: increases vitality, reduces inflammation, improves mood, reduces inflammation and regulates cortisol levels.
What Is Cortisol?
Most bodily cells have cortisol receptors, so it affects many different functions in the body. Cortisol helps control blood sugar levels, regulate metabolism, help reduce inflammation, and assist with memory formulation. It has a controlling effect on salt and water balance and is good for controlling blood pressure.
Hatha Yoga Health Benefits
Hatha yoga is a mind-body practice known for its ability to reduce stress and boost well-being, but it also offers a wide range of physical health benefits as well. Here are some of the Hatha Yoga health benefits:
Rather immediate payoffs from doing Hatha yoga are:
Improved Brain Function – Hatha yoga can improve cognitive functioning which boosts focus and working memory.
Lower Stress Levels – Stress and anxiety result when we experience daily pressures or adverse situations that feel greater than our resources allow us to cope with or satisfy. Hatha yoga helps balance our energy and leads to a more harmonious life with lower stress levels.
Improved Immune Levels – Hatha yoga can boost immune levels by better exercise, stress management, better sleep and healthy habits like healthy diet and improved breathing which improves heart health, digestive functioning and overall well-being. These all aid the immune system.
Increased Flexibility – The stretching you do in Hatha yoga is a great way to improve your flexibility. It can improve flexibility, increase range of motion and just make you feel longer and leaner.
Hatha yoga poses stretch your muscles and increase your range of motion. With regular practice, they’ll improve your flexibility. Even though yoga is not aerobic, some research finds it can be just as good as aerobic exercise for improving health and also strength.
Other benefits of Hatha yoga include:
- Increased muscle strength and tone
- Improved energy and vitality
- Improved athletic performance
- Detoxify your organs
- Maintaining a balanced metabolism
- Weight loss and management
- Cardio and circulatory health
Spiritual And Mental Health Benefits
The practice of Hatha yoga allows students to find stillness in a world filled with noise and chatter. Peace, harmony and tranquility can be achieved through Hatha yoga focused training.
Hatha yoga is about finding balance. By doing the workouts you create space in yourself, like in purification. Through that space and balance, the opportunity for spiritual growth arises. Hatha yoga prepares you for the spiritual development. Sometimes this is called ‘cultivation’.
The practice of Hatha historically was used to prepare the body for extreme and prolonged meditation so it is designed to release tension and stress in the body and mind.
Hatha yoga also uses purification methods like the Shatkarmas.
The Shatkarmas, also known as Shatkriya, refers to the Yogic practices involving purification of the body by cleansing techniques. These are the six purification techniques mentioned in Hatha Yoga Pradipika. Shatkarma makes the body clean, strong, and free of diseases. It removes toxins and improves concentration as it improves the flow of prana into the organs.
All these methods of cleansing, purification and breath management were originally designed in Hatha yoga for the yogis to prepare for long periods of meditation and spiritual contemplation. The yogis would pursue self-realization and try to merge in Union with the Supreme or Higher Power (Liberation or Moksha). This would lead to Samadhi or Enlightenment.
Hatha Yoga, which literally means “union through discipline of force”, is the school of Yoga that stresses mastery of the body as a way of attaining a state of spiritual perfection in which the mind is withdrawn from external objects.
When the bodies senses are withdrawn from the external objects of the world then the yogi finds the peace within and communes with the Holy power.
So we see Hatha yoga as prescribing a course of physical and mental disciplines for attaining liberation from the material world and union of the self with a “Supreme Being.”
- For more on Pranayama Meditation >> CLICK HERE <<
Hatha yoga balances the body and mind like its Sanskrit name which means sun and moon (Hatha). This main established principle for Hatha yoga leads to specific structured poses and other activities that help with body and mind “purification” through principles like asana (postures), pranayama (subtle energy control) and more.
There are many benefits to Hatha yoga and this yoga improves your health and overall quality of life. Hatha yoga practice is so invigorating and fulfilling that it makes you look and feel like a better person.
We hope you have found out more about Hatha yoga to make it part of a daily or periodic fitness exercise regimen that works for you!
Please feel free to leave comments or suggestions down below. We love to hear from you!