What is hatha yoga?
Hatha is a Sanskrit term and can be broken down into two parts; ha meaning the sun and tha meaning the moon.This traditional form of yoga establishes tranquillity by balancing the solar and lunar energies in the body. Hatha,through breath control (pranayama) and body control (asana) brings about purification and stability and achieves the perfect union between mind and body.
Thus, hatha yoga is the balance that we should strike between these two powerful elements within us. Hatha yoga is derived from the ancient Vedanta orientation of Hatha Pradipika also called Hatha Yoga Pradipika compiled by Svatmarama in the 15th century CE.
The Hatha Yoga Pradipika contains precise and detailed instructions on:
Apart from Hatha Yoga Pradipika, some other texts on hatha yoga are Gheranda Samhita, Hatharatnavali and Shiva Samhita.
The word ‘hatha’ means willful or forceful which leads us to understand that hatha yoga is a practice of determination and fortitude.
In Yogic science, the body is divided into two parts, the right side is considered as the Sun side, responsible for the heating element of the body, it represents the life of human beings. The left side is considered as the Moon side, the cooling element in the body, it represents emotions and feelings. This practice of hatha balances the Sun and Moon energy by controlling Nadis or the energy channels. These energies are directly associated with the health and wellbeing of a person.
Most Hatha Yoga practices begin with Kriyas or purification techniques, cleansing and preparing the body for the asana practice. The asanas strengthen and stabilise the body and allow the energies (pranas) to flow freely.Once the prana starts flowing freely, we must regulate it with the practice of pranayama accompanied by energy locks or bandhas.
Some of the benefits of Hatha Yoga on the physical body are:
It improves mobility in the joints. It improves flexibility in the connective tissue. It stretches the fascia and improves its condition. It improves metabolism. It improves the functioning of all body systems. It stimulates cell repair and regeneration. It improves blood flow in the spinal cord and brain. It rejuvenates the ligaments. It helps to stimulate the lymphatic system and cleanses the body. It improves the overall range of motion of the body. It improves energy levels. It improves the function of the lungs and heart. It brings balance to the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system.
Some of the mental benefits are:
It helps to calm down the senses. It helps to improve concentration. It sharpens the focus. It brings balance to the emotions. It relieves anxiety and depression. It removes mental fatigue. It stimulates creativity. It stimulates learning facilities.
The word “vinyasa” is translated as “arranging something in a special way,” in this case, yoga postures. Vinyasa means to move your body in a synchronized yoga flow with breath as the key. Vinyasa Flow is the world’s most popular yoga form to develop a stronger mind-body connection, to strengthen the body and improve flexibility. It teaches us to cultivate an awareness that links each action to the next one on the mat and in our lives. It focuses on the flow between movements, rather than individual poses.
This popular, flowing style of yoga developed is a sort of "free-form" offshoot of the more methodical Ashtanga Yoga system. Ashtanga Yoga is a powerful and dynamic style of yoga developed in the 20th century by the guru, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. Ashtanga incorporates the sequence of linked poses called a vinyasa, but where Ashtanga has a strict structure and precise set of rules, Vinyasa Yoga is creative and exploratory.
Vinyasa Yoga contains many, if not all, of the poses included in the Ashtanga Yoga series, but it does not require its students to perform them in the same sequence. For example, in Ashtanga, students of Ashtanga are not allowed to move to the next series of poses without first mastering their current one. Vinyasa Yoga breaks those rules, often including poses from various Ashtanga sequences in one class.
The two forms are very different from each other. The class itself, the postures, the pace and the goals are all very different. The difference between hatha yoga and vinyasa yoga is important to know before you choose.__
Hold poses and take deep breaths Complete one posture on both sides and then move on Increase flexibility, mobility and muscle tone Gentle and relaxed class Traditional postures __Ancient form of yoga __
Flow from pose to pose with the breath Complete a flow on one side and then finish the other side Increase strength, stamina and endurance Fast paced class Traditional poses and modifications Newer, modified form of yoga
Hatha yoga is a traditional form that focuses on overall wellbeing and health. It focuses a lot on the breath-mind-body connection and is accessible to all levels of practitioners.
Vinyasa on the other hand focuses on movement and can help with weightloss, toning the muscles and increasing stamina. It usually is for someone who has practised yoga before and is looking to take their practice to another level. So, choosing between the two forms should be based on your level of practice and your goals.
Sarva tips to choose the perfect form for your practice
- Figure out what your goal is and choose the form accordingly - You can always practice both forms since they have different benefits and pace - Use props in both practices to better your postures - Do not forget the importance of breath in both forms
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