Hatha yoga, the type most U.S. students practice, is a type of exercise which causes little stress on the joints of the body. It involves poses of the body with accompanying rhythmic breathing to encourage tranquility, flexibility, and stability.
Hatha, taken from the Indian words for the sun and moon, requires yoga movements that flow smoothly and comfortably from one pose to another. This makes it the perfect type of yoga for beginning students and for older adults who wish to achieve greater flexibility without injury.
Perfect for Beginners as well a Older Adults
Those who practice Hatha yoga work on their breathing technique as much as achieving and maintaining a pose. This process involves taking deep breaths through the nose using a regular pattern of inhalations and exhalations.
Hatha yoga sessions are extremely peaceful. The goal is not speed, but rather perfecting the various poses while breathing at a relaxed pace. Sometimes a few minutes of meditation are incorporated at the end of a Hatha yoga class, but this is not central to the practice.
Benefits of Hatha Yoga
Hatha yoga is advantageous to the body in several ways. It increases circulation and give greater mobility.
The deep breathing of Hatha yoga increases the amount of oxygen taken in by the lungs and the release of toxins from the body. Hatha yoga also releases negative thinking and stress as the practitioner concentrates on breathing.
Hatha Involves All Eight Limbs of Yoga
Yoga poses are only one aspect of Hatha yoga. This form of yoga actually involves all eight limbs of yoga. These include:
- Yama – a person’s behavior toward others
- Niyama – the treatment of self
- Asana – the yoga poses
- Pranayama – rhythmic breathing
- Pratyahara – internal withdrawal
- Dharana – the knack of focusing
- Dhyana – concentrated meditation, and
- Samadhi – supreme happiness and understanding
Hatha Yoga is Slow-Paced and Requires Patience
Hatha yoga requires patience. All movements are slow and controlled, and some students find it tedious. For these few, the other types of yoga may be more agreeable, but those who practice this slow-paced version of yoga often find themselves reaching a level of enlightenment not experienced in other varieties.
Hatha yoga is perfect for the beginner, and good instructors keep sessions interesting by introducing variations to the basic poses as students advance in technique and ability.