Hatha yoga – Definition and Benefits

Hatha yoga is the most commonly practised form of yoga and is aimed to facilitate the entry of beginners in the practise of yoga. The goal of Hatha yoga is to achieve a balance between mind and body. Based on the Pradipika manual, Hatha yoga originally means ‘force’ in Sanskrit, and is also termed as ‘gentle yoga’ due to its many static poses. The practice in Hatha yoga includes sequences of postures, breathing techniques, chanting, hand gestures, visualization, as well as cleansing techniques, lasting about 45 to 90 minutes. It is also one of the best yoga forms for an introduction to yoga practise, and several Hatha yoga classes are available for both beginners and advanced.

Steps of Hatha yoga

Hatha yoga is practised in three steps. Normally a class starts with a slow warm-up, proceeds to more physical postures, and concludes with a few minutes of meditation. 

Breathing: The breathing exercises pranayama, as called in Sanskrit, is the opening part of all hatha yoga classes. When you proceed with the class, your instructor may remind you to concentrate on your breathing and may teach you different breathing exercises. 

Postures: Yoga postures, asanas in Sanskrit, are a sequence of movements that are helpful to improve your balance as well as strength and flexibility of your body. It may vary from simply laying on the floor to some physically challenging poses. If you feel difficulty in practising any of the postures, your instructor can provide you with some modified poses that may be able to perform with less difficulty. 

Meditation: Meditation or dhyana in Sanskrit is the final part of most of the Hatha yoga sessions. At this time, your teacher may tell you to lie on your back. Some yoga teachers may give you a guided meditation or use some other techniques like Tibetan bowls. 

A typical Hatha yoga class may end with the common Indian salutation Namasthe to each other with your hands folded in a prayer posture over your heart and bowing. 

Benefits of Hatha yoga

Hatha yoga class is filled with many types of stretches, techniques to release tension and unwind your body. Regular practice is good for your physical wellness. According to many studies, Hatha yoga has many health benefits and the major ones among them are listed below.

Emotional health and stress management: According to many types of research, Hatha yoga provides a positive impact on the mental health of a person and can provide emotional stability due to its calming effects on human body and mind. Yoga is also helpful to relieve stress and its associated problems.

Depression and anxiety: Yoga is good to manage depression and anxiety of people associated with different life situations. They can also help in the cases of PTSD, as per many studies. 

Improves sleep:Yoga helps to sleep better for those people who cannot sleep well. It is helpful for cancer patients, elderly people, people with arthritis, pregnant women, women with menopause symptoms and hormone variation problems, etc. 

Back pain:Yoga can relieve chronic low-back pain and the posture of the spinal cord. According to some experts, yoga is the non-drug method to treat back pain. 

There are some studies that state the other health benefits of yoga such as mood and fatigue improvement in people with multiple sclerosis, better eating and healthy living, balance improvement, and so on. It can also reduce the effects of neck pain and arthritis. So the practice of Hatha yoga is the better way to improve your physical and mental health and get more balance and concentration to add to your personality.

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