Hatha Yoga - "The Yoga of Vitality"
Hatha Yoga is known as the foundation for all of the yoga types. The name, hatha, has some real meaning: "ha" means "sun" and "tha" means "moon," so "hatha" is referring to the sun (positive) and the moon (negative) currents within the body. These currents are supposed to be balanced and mastered so that the prana (vital force) can be regulated, the mind can be cleared, and a super conscious state can be experienced.
About the Asanas or Postures Used In Hatha Yoga
The best way to practice Hatha Yoga poses (asanas) is to come to the practice in a calm, meditative mood. After sitting quietly for a few moments, one can begin the series of yoga poses, with control and grace, and being slowly inwardly aware as the body does the poses selected for that practice session. The asanas are not a competition, with others or with oneself, though one should want to do one's best and seek to improve.
The Value of the Asanas
In order for our bodies to be rejuvenated and have vitality, they need three prerequisites: a healthy central brain and spine (nervous system), healthy internal organs, and healthy glands.
The brain and spine are helped by so many of the positions in Hatha Yoga! Consider the headstand, and the spinal positions. These increase circulation to these organs and areas of the body. The spine needs to be kept flexible by asanas to keep proper alignment for optimal health. The internal organs of the body are benefited by the asanas by being massaged and stimulated. This makes the internal organs function better and last longer.
The endocrine glands are greatly affected by the asanas. These glands secrete powerful hormones that control much of how well our bodies function. The thyroid glands benefit from Hatha Yoga poses like the headstand and shoulder stand. Sex glands and adrenal glands are also affected by many of the asanas. The asanas also help other bodily aspects, like a healthy digestive system, joints, and skin.
The asanas are certain poses that are combined with specific breathing exercises. There are poses in all body positions - supine, sitting, standing, twisting, Originally, the poses were designed to create the physical stamina, strength, and concentration that was needed for effective meditation - which was used as a path to a more spiritual life. Many yogi still practice yoga for that purpose.
Today, Hatha Yoga has become very popular in the United States because it is easy to learn and a basic form of yoga. But it is usually practiced for the sense of health and well-being that it provides, and no note is taken of the spiritual content. However, Hatha Yoga is not just an ordinary stretching exercise program. There is a focus and discipline to Hatha Yoga that helps provide inner and outer balance. Many - even those why didn't expect it to be so - will find Hatha Yoga to be a path to enlightenment. And modern medicine is marveling at its many health benefits.