Hatha Yoga

Yoga includes Hatha yoga, Mantra yoga, Laya yoga, Raja yoga and Kundalini yoga. Hatha yoga exercises are mainly aimed at strengthening the physical body. The word “hatha” can be translated two ways: as “willful” or “forceful,” or the yoga of activity, and as “sun” (ha) and “moon” (tha), the yoga of balance.

Hatha yoga practices concerning the physical body like the Asana, Pranayama etc. for controlling and strengthening the body,  and thereby affecting Sukshma sharira (is the energy body) and purifying the chitta (the memory or the unconscious mind). Various āsans allow body,mind and Spirit to come into harmony through the balance of body energy. Constant disciplined practice of breathing exercises (pranayama), postures and relaxation subtly transform the body into a vital spiritual tool through which levels of intuitive understanding are reached, and the mystical aspects of the Hatha yoga gradually unfold and reveal their secrets.

Through Hatha yoga one can achieve absolute control over the whole body, thus improving the condition of every part and maintaining the body as a necessary and valuable tool of human evolution. The training of body and mind through Hatha yoga helps to bring bodily urges, emotions, and miss-directed will-power under control.

Hatha yoga purifices the body and mind and makes them suitable for Raja yoga. It stands out as a ladder for those who aspire to reach the sublime heights of Raja yoga. Hatha yoga tends to keep the attention more on the exercises on body rather than the mind.

Hatha yoga seeks to awaken Kundilini shakti through the discipline of the physical body, purification of nadis (pathways or channels) and controlling the prank (life force).

Popular Hatha yoga poses and names

Mountain

Mountain pose is typically the starting position for other standing poses.

Work on your posture with Mountain pose. Stand with your feet together and relax your shoulders, and put your arms at your sides. Inhale deeply and raise your hands over your head with your palms facing each other. Reach toward the sky and hold for 30 sec -1 min while breathing normally. Exhale as you put your arms down.

Tree

For Tree pose, stand with your feet together and put your arms at your side. Shift your weight onto your left leg, bend your right knee and place the sole of your right foot on the inside of your left thigh. Keep your hips facing forward. Try to balance yourself and move your hands to prayer position in front of your chest with your palms together. While inhalation, bring your arms up over your head with your palms facing each other, but separate. Hold for 30 seconds, release and exhale as you put your arms down. Repeat on the opposite side.

Standing Forward Bend or Foot to Hand pose

For the Standing Forward Bend, step to the front of your mat and position your feet hip-width apart. On the inhalation, extend your spine, and then exhale and bend at the hips. If possible, place your hands under the front of each foot so your toes are touching the inside of your wrists. Tuck your chin in and let your shoulders relax away from your ears. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute, and then inhale and come up to standing.

Warrior

There are three variations of Warrior, but Warrior I is the most basic. Begin in Mountain pose, and then spread your feet 3 to 4 feet apart. Turn your right foot out 90 degrees. Relax your shoulders, then extend your arms out to the sides with your palms down. Bend your right leg 90 degrees, ensuring your knee doesn’t extend over your ankle, and look over your right arm. Hold for one minute, and then switch sides.

Downward-Facing Dog

Downward-Facing Dog, part of the Sun Salutation sequence, works every part of your body, making it a challenging position to hold for an extended period of time. Begin on your hands and knees, and spread your fingers out flat on the mat. Turn your toes under, exhale and lift your knees up off the floor. Keep the knees bent slightly and focus on pushing your heels down to the floor. Hold for one to three minutes, and then bend your knees down to the floor on the inhalation.

Bridge

Bridge pose stretches the chest, neck and spine. Lie on your back with your knees bent, arms at your sides and the soles of the feet flat on the floor. Move your heels as close to your glutes as possible. On the exhalation, press your feet and arms into the mat and push your hips upward. Clasp your hands below your pelvis. Lift your chin slightly and press your shoulder blades down. Hold the pose for 30 seconds to one minute and release on an inhalation, slowly rolling your spine down on the floor.

Bound Angle

This pose is usually translated into English as Bound Angle, but is also known as the Butterfly. Sit on the floor, bend your knees and place your feet together with the soles touching. Pull your heels in toward your pelvis and press your knees down to the floor. Sit up straight, relax your shoulders and hold the pose for 30 seconds to one minute.

Seated Twist

A Seated Twist stretches your shoulders, hips and back while increasing your circulation and strengthening your oblique muscles. Sit on the floor with your legs extended. Cross the right foot over your left thigh and place it flat on the floor, and then bend your left knee. Move your left arm to the outside of the right knee, so your elbow is touching your thigh, and twist your body to the right. Hold for one minute and then release and switch sides.

Easy Pose

As the name suggests, the Easy pose isn’t difficult to master. Sit on a yoga mat or thick blanket, and cross your legs so each foot is below the opposite knee. Relax your feet and keep your pelvis in a neutral position. Position your hands either in your lap with your palms up or on your knees, palms down. Focus on lengthening your tailbone toward the floor and taking deep breaths. When you practice this pose, alternate the crossing of your legs each time you do it.

Staff Pose

The staff pose lengths your spine, opens your chest and stretches the back of your legs. Sit on the floor and extend your legs in front of you. Place your hands behind your hips with your fingers pointing away from your body. Press your hips into the floor and sit up straight to lengthen your spine. Relax your shoulders down and back, pressing your chest forward. Push your heels away from you, pulling the toes toward you. Hold for three to six breaths.