Hatha yoga is the branch of yoga that usually comes to mind when you think of yoga in general. The practice involves breathing, body, and mind, and classes typically last 45 to 90 minutes, including stages of breathing, yoga poses, and meditation.
Yoga originated in India around 2,000 years ago as a series of spiritual breathing exercises. The term Hatha was first recorded in the 11th century, but it was not until the late 19th century that it appeared in Western countries, gaining popularity in the 1960s.
Hatha Yoga history
In Sanskrit, Hatha means strength. Hatha yoga breathing techniques date back to the 1st century in Buddhist and Hindu texts, but it was not until a thousand years before the use of yoga postures, or asanas, and control of the breath were recorded as a form of improve vital energy.
Classical hatha yoga was developed in the 15th century and included a guide to the proper practice of yoga, asanas, pranayama or breathing exercises, mudras or hand gestures, and meditation for spiritual elevation.
Today, hatha yoga is well known for its physical and spiritual practice for the health of the body and mind.
Benefits of Hatha Yoga
Yogis have long touted the benefits of yoga practice for calm and well-being. Today, research supports many of these claims.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health at the National Institutes of Health has analyzed dozens of peer-reviewed studies, and while most research has been done on a small number of topics, it has found evidence to suggest that yoga It could be beneficial for the following conditions:
- Stress management. According to the NCCIH: Yoga has a positive impact on mental health and yoga has been shown to improve resilience or general mental well-being.
- Anxiety and Depression: While research shows that yoga can help relieve daily anxiety and depressive symptoms associated with life situations, it may not be effective for clinically diagnosed health problems.
- Sleep: Several studies have shown that yoga can improve the quality and duration of sleep. Populations that benefit from the sleep benefits of yoga include cancer patients, the elderly, people with arthritis, pregnant women, and women with menopausal symptoms.
- Healthy living: regular yoga practice is associated with better eating and physical activity habits.
- Balance: yoga helps improve balance in healthy people.
Apply Hatha Yoga
There are several different styles of yoga today. If a class is simply called yoga, it is most likely of the Hatha variety.
Hatha is considered a gentle yoga that focuses on static poses and is ideal for beginners. However, while she’s kind, she can be tough physically and mentally.
Although each lesson varies by instructor, most lessons are 45-90 minutes long. Classes usually begin with a light warm-up, then move into more physical poses, and end with a short period of meditation.
- Breathing. Most hatha yoga classes begin with a period of concentration on the breath or pranayama. As you progress through the poses, your teacher will keep reminding you to focus on your breathing and may suggest different breathing exercises for you to try.
- The poses. Yoga poses, also called postures or asanas, are a series of movements that help improve balance, flexibility, and strength. Postures vary in difficulty, from lying flat on the floor to more physically complex positions. If at any point in your class a pose is too difficult, your instructor may suggest an alternative pose.
- Meditation. Most classes end with a short period of meditation. During this quiet reflection period, your teacher may ask you to lie on your back and may cover you with a blanket. Some instructors may take you on a guided meditation or use Tibetan bowls.
Hatha classes allow you to stretch, relax and release tension, which is a good alternative for those with busy lifestyles and cardiovascular workouts.
If you are taking a Hatha class and you feel too slow or not active enough, don’t give up yoga entirely. There are faster and more athletic ways to do yoga. Try a flow, vinyasa or power yoga class and see if it is faster for you.