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Introduction To Hatha Yoga: Characteristics and Benefits

The history of haṭha yoga style can be traced back to the 1st century CE.  Classical Hatha yoga came into being in the 15th century. This system includes guidance on yoga poses (asanas), pranayama breathing patterns, mudras or hand gestures, and meditation etc.

In 1893, Hatha yoga was introduced to the west by Swami Vivekananda as a spiritual practice. In the twentieth century, this tradition evolved as a form of popular physical exercise. The spiritual aspects were taken into account less often.

Then again in recent times, our perception changed and the full benefits of this practice came to light. Haṭha yoga techniques are used to nurture the health of the whole self, the mind, body, and spirit.

What is hatha yoga?

Hatha yoga is a perfect yoga style for beginners. The style consists of gentle stretching poses and foundational movements.

The Sanskrit word haṭha means “force”. In this context, it may require some ‘force’ to perform the physical poses and breathing techniques. So, even though it is comparatively gentle and easy, there are also some challenges to tackle. Once you overcome them, you’ll see why this is one of the best things you can do for your health.

This can be easier when you have a certified yoga instructor to guide you smoothly through your yoga journey.

Hatha yoga integrates key ideas such as:

  • Body postures (asanas)
  • Moderate, mindful eating (mitahara)
  • Breathing exercise and patterns (pranayama)
  • Awareness and relaxation  (dhyana)

What are the benefits of hatha yoga

Scientists and researchers have found numerous benefits of hatha yoga. Some of the key benefits include that this method may

  • improve joint mobility and flexibility
  • make your core muscles stronger
  • improve energy levels
  • boost lung and heart health
  • provides relaxation
  • improve quality of sleep
  • ensure better concentration and sharpen the mind
  • help get rid of physical and emotional fatigue
  • aid in managing depression, anxiety

What are the types of hatha poses

One of the earliest and most authoritative sources of yoga teachings, Hatha Pradipika (15th century) mentions that hatha yoga has 84 asanas taught by Lord Shiva (Shiva is believed to be the origin of yoga).

A hatha yoga session may include 10-15 asanas on an average. While each yoga class varies, most classes are held around 40-60 minutes. Here are some hatha yoga poses for beginners:

  • Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
  • Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
  • Downward Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
  • Warrior 2 Pose (Virabhadrasana II)
  • Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)
  • Tree Pose (Vrikshasana)
  • Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
  • Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)
  • Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana)
  • Halasana (Plow Pose)

Is hatha yoga for me?

Hatha yoga, as mentioned earlier, is slow-paced, gentle and is suitable for different ages and abilities. Research has shown that hatha yoga can be performed by even older adults and people with disabilities who may not be able to take up high-impact, grueling  exercises. Which also makes hatha yoga style a great yoga for beginners.


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