Hatha Yoga: Its Benefits for Your Body

Western Approach to Hatha Yoga

Hatha yoga improves vitality and health. Yogi Swatmarama introduced it in the 15th century. It purifies the mind and spirit by purifying the physical being. Hatha yoga was a result of research on spiritual-physical connection as well as body centered practices. The West has embraced hatha yoga in the form of an exercise program, far different from its original purpose.

Krishnamacharya is thought to be the father of hatha yoga as we know it today. He learnt it first from his grandmother and father and passed it on to future generations.

Thus, hatha yoga transcends all barriers of religion and is very popular. It was formed as a result of the exploration of the relation between one’s body and spirit and has been included into the lifestyle of such traditions. Classes on hatha yoga focus mainly yon physical mastery.

What Hatha Yoga Means

Hatha means a determined effort, while yoga means “joining together”. The name hatha yoga itself indicates a union of opposites, since “ha” means the sun and “tha” means the moon. By practicing hatha yoga one can attain spiritual, emotional and mental well-being.

This type of yoga symbolizes opposite forces and energies like fire and water, hot and cold, ying and yang, positive and negative, male and female. It aims to balance the body and mind through physical exercises or asanas, pranayama(controlled breathing) and meditation.

Breath Control and Relaxation

Pranayama or controlled breathing employs controlling the mind and breath by using a syllable, “om”. The yoga even has fasting practices, breath control and postures which aim to make one transcend the body, not cultivate it. Such postures are designed to align one’s body optimally, bringing about maximum relaxation.

In this way, traditional yoga is a holistic path becoming increasingly popular.


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