Hatha Yoga is the most popular type of yoga in the world nowadays. It mainly comprises of body postures, breathing and relaxation techniques aiming to improve mind-concentration, inner strength and flexibility, as well as the ability to rest and relax.
In modern society many people are obsessed with their physical body, considering it the sole expression of their soul. Hatha Yoga, on the contrary, regards the physical body only a means to reveal the higher Self - Atma. Through concentration & purification Hatha Yoga strengthens our body and uses it as a vehicle to transcend all negativity and excess "baggage" in order to grow spiritually.
A main point is to practice with respect to your body - without forcing or straining it, following the concept of non-violence.
Besides body postures (asanas) and breathing techniques (pranayama), Hatha Yoga also involves relaxation methods, visualization, concentration, gestures (mudras), locks (bandhas) and various cleansing practices (kriyas).
It is energyzing and balancing - over the time joy & contentment settle within the hearts of those practicing it.
THE MEANING OF HATHA YOGA
Hatha Yoga means more than mere physical exercise or postures. In its original sense, Hatha Yoga refers to the practice of bringing harmony to the two main energies in the human body – the energy of the moon and the energy of the sun.
Just as the moon is constantly changing, the human mind is not equal every day. Our mind is always changing - very often we say, “well, I have changed my mind.”
In Yoga philosophy, the principle of the mind is symbolised by the moon, and one of the main energy channels in the body, the “ida nadi” is also known as the moon system. On the full moon day, you will see the waves on surface of the ocean become more turbulent. In the same way, the moon energy causes our mind and emotions to constantly change.
The moon system is paired with the sun system, known as the “pingala nadi”. The sun is always steady, unchangeable. All other circumstances change around the sun. The sun is the symbol of fire, it governs our activities, decision-making and gives mental clarity.
The third main energy channel is called “shushumna” – which relates to the central nervous system. Our consciousness continuously flows through this central spinal channel. Consciousness is the radiance and light of the soul.
Now, how to bring balance and harmony to these three energy channels in our body? Through the practice of Hatha Yoga. In Sanskrit, the moon is known as “Ha” and the sun is “Tha” – thus Hatha. The “shushumna” channel is the third one that unites all three, thus Yoga which is derived from the root word “Yog” which means union.
So “Hatha Yoga” restores the balance between the mind and intellect and that is when one’s consciousness begins to awaken. The result is a discovery of inner peace, inner contentment and mental clarity. The purpose of life becomes more clear and one will start to understand creation. You will exist in this world with the feeling of spirituality, with the feeling of divinity and of clarity. This is literally the meaning of Hatha Yoga in its spiritual context.
It was originally developed as a vehicle for meditation. The system of hatha yoga prepared the body, particularly the nervous system, for stillness, creating the necessary physical strength and stamina that allowed the mind to remain calm during meditation.