Hatha Yoga – All you need to know

World Yoga Forum » What is Hatha Yoga? » Hatha Yoga – All you need to know

Much of modern day Yoga is essentially Hatha Yoga. It consists of all the Yoga Poses, Breathing exercises, mudras etc. In this article, we’ve compiled a list of commonly asked questions on Hatha Yoga and answered it based on research, and credible literature available on Hatha Yoga

What is Hatha Yoga?

Hatha Yoga focuses on Asanas and Pranayama (yoga poses and meditation) and a large part of Yoga that we see today in the form of Yoga poses and asanas are essentially Hatha Yoga. It is a branch within Raja Yoga. It is also called the “yoga of control” and is one the of the four paths of Yoga.

What does Hatha Yoga Consist of?

Hatha Yoga consists of much of modern day yoga i.e. Yoga poses, breathing exercises, sun salutations. It is an elaborate set of techniques that expand on the asanas, and pranayama, which are the third and the fourth limbs of Yoga as mentioned in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra.

What is Hatha Yoga Pradipika?

Hatha Yoga Pradipika is one of the first texts that compiles all earlier works under one umbrella. It defines asanas, pranayama, mudras, bandhas, kumbhaka (breath retention). It also discussed the shat kriya (six inner cleansing practices) that are characteristic of Hatha Yoga. It also emphasizes on the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali. The book refers to the tradition of postures originating from sages. However it is not an extensive guide. It simply provides basic information on the topic.

What is the meaning of Hatha Yoga?

The word Hatha means “stubborn”, or “forceful”. Hatha Yoga means the forceful practice of yoga. It is a discipline you practice to purify and control your body. As a result, you gain control over the mind as well. When you stubbornly stick to the practice, you will cultivate power and overcome fears and other mental interferences.

Is Hatha Yoga Good For Beginners?

Yes. For beginners in Yoga, Hatha Yoga is good. You need to learn basic poses, breathing exercises under guidance in the right sequence before you move to advanced poses.

What is the Goal of Hatha Yoga?

The main goal of Hatha Yoga is to purify the mind and the prepare you for further spiritual practices. Being and staying healthy (mentally and physically) is a central concern in Yoga. An unfit body & mind cannot meditate. You will need a healthy body and mind to progress spiritually.

How many poses are there in Hatha Yoga?

The Goraksha Shataka (13th – 14th C. AD) proclaims that there are 8.4 million postures in Hatha Yoga, as many as there are species of living beings on this planet. According to Goraksha, the author, 84 of these postures have been selected by Lord Shiva as the main ones. Two of these, Siddha Asana and Padma Asana, which are later on included in the Hatha Yoga tradition as well, he considers to be of the highest importance for meditation.

Is Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) Hatha Yoga?

Yes. You can see Surya Namaskar or the Sun salutation in most Hatha Yoga Sequences.

What does hatha yoga do for your body?

Hatha Yoga helps you immensely in staying healthy. With the modern-day pressures, stress, anxiety, and other health-related issues Hatha Yoga can provide immense health benefits. It has proven to help regularly practicing individuals with massive health benefits. ​Asanas were conceived in ancient times to promote holistic health by stimulating and balancing the internal body systems and maintaining homeostasis.

Is Hatha Yoga a good workout?

Yes, Hatha Yoga is an excellent workout. One of the key Hatha Yoga health benefits is on the body. It keeps the spine and joints young, leads to healthy aging, reduces the metabolism, including lowering resting heart rate, and consequently toning your body.

Does Hatha Yoga tone your body?

Yes. One of the many positive benefits of Hatha Yoga is a toned body. It works on your musculoskeletal system and gives a toned body.

Is Hatha Yoga good for Depression?

Yes. Hatha Yoga has positive effects on mental health. A study on adults with mild-to-moderate major depression, an 8-week hatha yoga intervention resulted in statistically and clinically significant reductions in depression severity. A scientific review of the evidence for the efficacy of hatha yoga for depression has concluded Yoga may be an attractive alternative to or a good way to augment current depression treatment strategies.

Read – Sahni PS, Singh K, Sharma N, Garg R (2021) Yoga an effective strategy for self-management of stress-related problems and wellbeing during COVID19 lockdown: A cross-sectional study. PLoS ONE 16(2): e0245214. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0245214

Does Yoga Cure Anxiety?

Hatha Yoga has immense benefits in reducing anxiety, keeping you in a state of calm, and a lot of value in keeping you happy. Hatha Yoga, with yoga poses (asanas), engages both the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. It triggers both and trains your body to be in a state of calm, as well as action (when required).
Research has suggested Yoga to be an effective stress management technique. Multiple studies have found positive effects of Yoga in helping with anxiety. In one such research conducted on 668 people including 384 Yoga practitioners in 2021, it was found that yoga practitioners had significantly lower depression, anxiety, & stress (DASS), and higher general wellbeing (SWGB) as well as higher peace of mind (POMS).

What are the benefits of Hatha Yoga?

Hatha Yoga and its regular practice can improve all key systems in the body. There are numerous well-documented studies that have explored Hatha Yoga Health Benefits in a scientific manner and broadly classified into 7 massive Hatha Yoga health benefits. It helps the Nervous System, Circulatory System, Lymphatic System, Respiratory System, Metabolism, Spine, Joints, and positively benefits the Internal Organs.

Read in detail the Hatha Yoga Health BenefitsHatha Yoga Heath Benefits

Is Hatha Yoga Strenuous?

No. Hatha Yoga and asanas are defined as “sthira sukha asanas”. It defines the state where body and mind are steady and comfortable in a pose. The main difference between a Hatha Yoga practice and a modern yoga asana practice is how the asanas are performed. Classically, asanas (yoga poses) are defined as steady, comfortable, poses. As soon as the asanas are performed in a dynamic way, without steady holds, we enter the realm of modern asana practice (& this is not the correct was of doing it).
Your body has a great ability to adapt. As the complexity of asanas increases, and through repetition your body adapts to the overload. This way you will continue to improve in strength, flexibility, balance, and stability.

Is it Ok to do Yoga Everyday?

Be mindful of your body and do not over-stretch. At times in a state of excitement, you can over stretch and that can lead to injury. Be very careful. While it is important to step out of the comfort zone, it is important to avoid injury. Not two people are alike. There is no single ideal frequency, alignment and duration of an asana that’ll be natural and beneficial for everyone. Find your own best frequency.

Do you need rest days from Yoga?

Rest is vital in the practice. It’ll help your body adapt, repair, and grow itself. The gradual overload along with rest can help your body adapt quickly and become stronger and more coordinated. When the tissues rest, they repair themselves to be stronger than before. Again keep in mind – The rest you’ll need is different and will vary.

Does Yoga change your body shape?

Yes. One of the big benefits of Yoga includes keeping your spine young. Physical inactivity is one of the reasons for the diminishment of our natural body flexibility. The consequence of physical inactivity is decreased flexibility of soft tissues surrounding joints. Simple yoga techniques including body postures and breathing techniques can restore natural body flexibility. In a study conducted by Grabara & Szopa, on understanding Hatha Yoga health benefits involving 56 women ranging in age between 50–79 attending 90 minutes hatha yoga sessions once a week found that yoga exercises increased spinal mobility and flexibility of the hamstring muscles regardless of age.