It is said that Lord Shiva was the Adiyogi or the first yogi. This goes on to prove how long Yoga has been a part of the Indian culture. The art of yoga has different forms you can practice as per experience level and knowledge.
One form of yoga is Hatha Yoga that one practice using physical force rather than staying in a meditative state. Hatha Yoga is all about balancing the body and mind but it includes a lot more than that. Let us find out more about this form of yoga.
What is Hatha Yoga – Know Everything Here
The word Hatha is broken down into two different words, namely Ha meaning the Sun and Tha meaning the Moon. Before knowing what is hatha yoga you should know it includes creating a balance amongst the solar and lunar energies in the subtle body.
You have to inculcate intense physical and mental discipline to master the different Hatha Yoga techniques. Hatha Yoga covers a variety of Indian traditions including Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism.
First, let us check out the evidence showing the ancient origins of Hatha Yoga.
The Hatha Yoga Pradipika – A Brief Intro
You should know there is a solid textual evidence on the practices of Hatha Yoga dating back to the 1st century. The first systematic exposition on the breathing and meditation techniques of this form of yoga are mentioned in Hatha Yoga Pradipika.
If you want to know what is hatha yoga then it is essential to understand a bit more about this text on Hatha Yoga. The Hatha Yoga Pradipika first written by Rishi Swatmarama dates back to the 15th century.
Hatha Yoga Pradipika has a total of four chapters showing the deep practice of yoga that focus more on the physical body and slowly transition towards the subtle aspects of this sacred art. You also learn the different breathing techniques, exercises or Mudra and Bandha. It contains detailed information on the energy wheels or Chakras and centers known as Nadis.
Let us understand how you can practice Hatha Yoga to reap maximum benefits.
What is Hatha Yoga – The Right Way to Start
If you are just starting out with yoga, chances are the first form of yogic practice would be Hatha Yoga. Yoga practice at a studio or school makes much sense but if you can do it only at home then keep in mind the four guidelines mentioned below;
1. Proper Breathing
Notice the way you breathe during the practice. Once you establish a connection between the mind and body, start increasing the time of inhale and exhale. Keep one hand on the belly to feel it rising and falling with each breathe. Continue this pattern for at least 3 to 5 minutes with each asana.
2. Consider Beginner’s Asanas
If you are a bit familiar with what is hatha yoga then work through a few easy asanas and hold each for at least five breaths. You can keep the practice session for a longer or shorter duration of time.
3. The Right Meditation
After you have gained control over breathing, start breathing and allow the mind to reach a calm state. It is okay if your mind drifts away during the initial practice, just focus on the breathing and bring it back to the practice.
4. Savasana is a must
At the end of the practice of Hatha Yoga session, just let the body relax completely and soak in the session.
Following the guidelines mentioned above would maximize the benefits of the Hatha Yoga session. Let us now look at the different Hatha Yoga poses you can include in the daily routine.
Also Read: Hatha Vs Vinyasa
Major Hatha Yoga Poses to Practice at Home
Hatha Yoga practice offers many benefits for mental and physical health. The two things you need are loose-fitting clothes and determination. Given below are some easy-to-do Hatha Yoga poses you can practice at home.
1. Sukhasana (The Easy Pose)
The very name Sukhasana means easy or relaxed pose. It helps you keep body and mind calm. The asana prepares the body for meditative practices. You can use it as the starting point for every other breathing exercise and stretch the neck, back, and shoulders.
Steps to do the Sukhasana
- Sit in a cross-legged position on the floor. In case you feel any strain or pressure on the knees or hips then sit on a block or place some support under the knees.
- After you are sitting in a comfortable position, press into the floor with the sitting bones, and keep the crown of the head upwards to straighten the spine.
- Let the shoulders relax downwards and back. The chin has to be at level with the floor. Exhale a little longer than the inhale with deep breathing first through the abdomen and then up to the chest.
2. Adho Mukho Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
The Downward Facing Dog is an important asana in a Hatha Yoga session. It opens the whole back and at the same time provide it strength. You get more control in the shoulders and lower abdominal muscles.
Guidelines to the Adho Mukho Svanasana
- Start with a tabletop position on all fours. Press your hands into the floor and keep both feet back as in a plank position. Keep both hands directly under the shoulders.
- With an exhale, slightly bend the knees by pressing the hands into the floor. Keep the hips towards the ceiling and allow the head to remain between the arms.
Knowing what is hatha yoga includes understanding this asana. You should understand that with bend knees and heels off the floor it becomes easier to maintain the position.
If you want to have more strength in the backbone then practicing the Cobra Pose is a must during the Hatha Yoga session. It might seem a bit easier but practicing it is a different affair so make sure to start slow.
3. Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
Instructions to Doing the Bhujangasana
- Start the asana in a prone position with your belly on the floor. Place both hands on the floor along the body. You can also keep them behind the shoulders.
- Lift the crown of the head towards the ceiling and open up the chest towards the front side. Make sure to keep both the hips drawn downwards and towards the floor.
- During the initial practice make sure to keep both arms a little bent. With time, try straightening them out.
- Bring the chin up and forward. Do not try to throw the head backwards.
Knowing what is hatha yoga helps you understand a bit in-depth about the basics. You also come to know how the different Hatha yoga poses can benefit the mind and body.