The science of yoga is both a physical and mental discipline, which originated in India. The word 'yoga' has a Sanskrit origin. It is derived from the Sanskrit word 'yuj', which stands for 'to control', 'to unite', etc.
There are many different forms of yoga. Some of the forms include Raja Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, etc. The mention of yoga can be seen in ancient scriptures like the Upanishads, the Bhagwad Gita, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, etc. Here, we will focus on hatha yoga. The other name given for this form of yoga is Hatha Vidya.
What is Hatha Yoga?
The founder of hatha yoga is Yogi Swatmarama, who was a sage and lived in the 15th century in India. He is the one, who compiled Hatha Yoga Pradipika, which is the basis of practice of this yoga.
According to the founder, this is the preparatory stage of physical purification. This physical purification is necessary for yoga meditation. The word hatha can be divided into two, where ha stands for the sun and tha represents the moon. They are also referred to as prana and apana.
The practice of hath yoga is also related to the energy channels in the body, which need to be completely operational, so that the state of dhyana or samadhi can be achieved. When in the West yoga is spoken about, the reference is actually made to hath yoga. One of the practices of yoga to have descended from hatha yoga is Bikram yoga.
In hatha yoga, yoga poses (called asanas) along with breathing techniques are used. During each practice session, the yoga practitioner (called yogi or yogini) go through a number of different yoga poses. The person has to make it a point to hold each of the yoga pose for a certain period of time.
The amount of time one has to hold the exercise for will vary according to the various asanas that are performed. This helps in gradually warming up the muscles. It is important to remember that the hath yoga poses are rather difficult, as they need high levels of concentration, strength, agility as well as they are physically challenging.
Many a times, there is a small break taken in between various yoga poses, so that the person can concentrate on breathing. It is said that controlling the breath is necessary, when one wants to control the body. As one practices the breathing technique, it helps in inward focus, which in turn helps in developing spirituality.
Apart from these the other non physical benefits include development of will power, concentration and self withdrawal, which helps in better mind and body balance.
The hatha yoga exercises help in keeping the person in good shape. This is achieved through practicing different demanding yoga poses regularly. The poses also help in improving the overall health. Regular practice brings muscle flexibility and bone strength. These poses help in strengthening, stretching and toning the different parts of the body.
There are a lot of women, who ask is hatha yoga safe during pregnancy. It is best to talk to your health care professional as well as your yoga teacher, before you start practicing this kind of yoga.
Do not start the practice on your own to avoid any side effects. In case you suffer from any injury or ailment, it is best to let your yoga teacher know about it, before you practice hatha yoga to avoid any negative effects that may arise out of it.