The Basics Of Hatha Yoga
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Yoga is a time-honored tradition that originated in ancient India - by some estimates, more than 5000 years ago. Ever since its inception, people have been using the discipline to help them achieve balance, harmony, and clarity in their lives.

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The basics of hatha yoga

Yoga is a time-honored tradition that originated in ancient India - by some

estimates, more than 5000 years ago. Ever since its inception, people have been

using the discipline to help them achieve balance, harmony, and clarity in their


Yoga has become very popular in recent years and we see it in the media and

hear about it in casual conversation all the time . Though we have all heard of

yoga, there are many misconceptions about the practice and confusion about

various styles that are available.

The basics of hatha yoga

Many myths and misinterpretations continue to propagate that complicate the

basic tenets of the practice or cause people to shy away. Some believe that yoga is

a form of religion and that only Hindus can practice it. Others think of yoga as

just a fitness routine with little to offer beyond the physical postures.

In truth, yoga is really just a collection of varying techniques - some simple and

basic and others more complex and esoteric - that provide a holistic approach to

clarifying the mind and rejuvenating body. While yogic principles originally grew

out of the Hindu tradition, the practices themselves are non-sectarian and

accessible to all. When practiced regularly and with proper guidance, it can lead

to genuine insight and a wonderful sense of wellbeing.

The basics of hatha yoga

How many forms or types of yoga are there? complicate the

In the big picture, the aim of yoga is expansive: it was designed to help us

understand ourselves and the world in which we live. Since there are multiple

paths that assist us with exploration, there are corresponding yogic systems that

address each of those paths. The system that is most familiar in contemporary

culture - and the one we will discuss here - is called Hatha yoga. It focuses

primarily on physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation, along with

other techniques. (Other primary systems of yoga concentrate on a variety of

alternate paths, including: intellectual understanding, energetic control, spiritual

devotion, visualization and ritual, and works of service for others.

The basics of hatha yoga

As one can imagine with a practice that has evolved over millennia and spread

around the globe, Hatha yoga has changed and adapted over the years. Branches

and off-shoots have developed and this has led to a dizzying array of differing

styles that can seem confusing at first. In the end, most of these styles share

many common attributes and are - in their essence - more similar than different.

That doesn't mean that varying styles won't look or feel different. An Ashtanga

vinyasa class will feel very different from an Iyengar or Integral or Yin class. But

the core system of using physical postures, the breath, and focused concentration

to bring about clarity and well-being are fundamentally the same.

The basics of hatha yoga

Each of these styles, along with numerous others that may vary slightly in their

approach, are all still included under the umbrella of Hatha yoga. They all utilize

physical poses and focused use of the breath.

Hatha yoga explained in a little more depth

The Sanskrit word Hatha, translates literally as "willful, forceful or determined".

Other interpretations choose to divide the word into its constituent syllables -

with 'ha' meaning 'sun' and 'tha' meaning 'moon' - symbolically uniting dualistic

energies into a holistic and universal system.

The basics of hatha yoga

Hatha yoga is the fundamental basis for most yoga classes currently taught in the

western world. When participating in one of these classes, you will usually be

introduced to some basic yoga postures and breathing techniques. In entry-level

classes, these will be suitable for all abilities and most people will be able to

participate with little difficulty.

The postures, or positions, are designed in such a way as to open up the body’s

energetic channels – particularly along the spinal column - and allow energy to

flow freely throughout the body. These postures are designed to strengthen the

body and can often be mastered with regular practice.

The basics of hatha yoga

In conjunction with these poses, the practice of 'pranayama' is also included in

most Hatha classes. Pranayama is a method of controlling and directing the

breath. Though breathing is something that we do naturally and unconsciously, by

bringing both attention and intention to our breath, we can change ingrained

patterns and access greater stores of energy. Pranayama is also a powerful

technique to create greater awareness of our unconscious habits and to encourage

calmness and equanimity.

Combining pranayama breathing with physical postures leads to an increased

awareness of how powerful and resilient the human body is, tapping into the full

potential of what it means to live a vibrant and energize life. These are the

fundamental building blocks of Hatha yoga that then set the stage for delving even

deeper through focused meditation.

The basics of hatha yoga

Depending upon which of the varying styles you explore, Hatha yoga classes can

range from slow and methodical to active and physically challenging. While most

offerings will concentrate primarily on the postures, a well-rounded class will

focus attention on basic pranayama techniques and include some meditation as


All Hatha classes should leave you with a sense of relaxation and well-being. The

avenues to get there may diverge at times, but ultimately the techniques of Hatha

yoga were designed to help open your body and mind to greater understanding,

increased clarity, and a felling of equanimity.

The basics of hatha yoga

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