Understanding Hatha Yoga for Beginners

Brief History

Although Hatha yoga has existed for almost 5,000 years, it remained disorganized for much of that time. It was a disorganized practice undertaken with varying and often contradictory beliefs and techniques. However, in the second century B.C., a man by the name of Patanjali developed one focused idea of Hatha yoga. This changed the perception of the practice, leading to the opening of yoga schools.

The first yoga school opened in 1924 in Mysore in India. This was after many years of development until then. The first time Hatha yoga was taught in the United States in 1947. This was when the first yoga studio opened in Hollywood. Since then, the teaching of Hatha yoga has expanded greatly.

It has since become one of the most widely practiced types of yoga. In fact, most of the currently known styles of yoga come from Hatha yoga. It is considered the basis of all yoga. Beginners in yoga are encouraged to learn their basics by taking a Hatha yoga class before proceeding to any other practice.

Hatha yoga is a style that focuses on uniting the body, mind, and breath. Practitioners learn how to do basic poses, various techniques of relaxation, and yoga terminologies. Unlike most other types of yoga, Hatha is considerably slower with more time being spent on learning breathing, seating in meditation, and holding poses. However, it is important to note that the styles of teaching could vary depending on each tutor and the design of a class.

The Constituent Parts of Hatha Yoga

One of the greatest contribution of Hatha yoga came from a yogi named Swatmarama. He compiled all the wisdom that had been developed thus far into the Hatha Yoga Pradeepika (HYP). In this volume, key information about such Hatha yoga techniques such as Asana, Shatkarma, and Pranayama is shared. The HYP has four chapters set out as follows.

The Asana

This section of the book offers information on physical postures and recommended diet when doing yoga. Included in the postures is the seating positions that one should be in when meditating.

Shatkarma and Pranayama

Shatkarma addresses what is basically known as the six-fold cleansing techniques. They are Dhauti, Basti, Neti, Trataka, Nauli, and Kapalabhati. Pranayama on the other hand addresses how to control the breath. The literal meaning of the word is the stretching and expanding of Prana. Prana is controlled when one controls breath.

Mudra and Bandha

These are two aspects or principles in Hatha yoga that can help in the preparation of a spiritual hopeful in achieving Kundalini.

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Samadhi

After following the trainings listed in the above three chapters, a person’s flow of Prana becomes more natural. The mind becomes calmer and more peaceful. This helps a practitioner to achieve the state of Samadhi, which is total adoption.

The basic theory of Hatha yoga is to help a practitioner achieve the state of raising the Kundalini Sakti. According to yoga teachings, this is the infinite power that lies at the base of the spine of each individual. In fact, the term Hatha is the combination of two terms, Ha – may mean the sun, active, heating energy, and Tha – meaning the moon, passive, cooling energy.

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