If you’ve ever been to a yoga studio, you may have come across a type of yoga called ‘hatha yoga’.
So what exactly is it? What advantages does it offer, and what can you expect from a hatha yoga class? Read on to find out.
What is Hatha Yoga?
Introduced by Yogi Swatmarama in the 15th century in India, Hatha yoga is a specific type of yoga that involves breath, body and mind. The term Hatha is formed by Ha and Tha, meaning the sun and the moon. Over time, this yoga form has taken a different shape. Today, it is mainly used for beginner-level yoga classes, but you’ll also find advanced Hatha classes.
Hatha yoga has gained tremendous popularity and has become one of the most famous types of yoga around the world. It’s primarily considered gentle yoga, focusing on poses that are great for beginners. Even though it is easy and slow, this yoga pose can still be mentally and physically challenging.
It is recognised for both its physical as well as mental health benefits and can be found in almost every yoga studio throughout the United States. A typical Hatha yoga class usually lasts 45 minutes to 90 minutes. IT involves breathing, yoga asanas and meditation, and can help develop strength, align posture and improve flexibility, while being slow and gentle for all fitness levels.
Advantages of Hatha Yoga
Hatha yoga offers some great benefits, including:
1) Ideal for Beginners
This form of yoga is beginner-friendly because of the intensity of the class and how the asanas are performed.
2) Improves Balance and Stability
The repetition, as well as the practice of the poses at a slower intensity, helps build balance and stability.
3) Enhances Overall Focus
This form of yoga allows you to perform each asana slowly and carefully, which in return helps you become more focused and clear.
Beyond your yoga mat, no other equipment is required for this form of yoga. However, modern Hatha does require the use of bolsters, yoga blocks, straps, etc. for more comfort.
Hatha yoga also provides other benefits, such as:
- Increases flexibility
- Helps reduce anxiety and tension
- Promotes good sleep
- Creates awareness
- Increases mobility
- Prevents back and neck pain
- Eases symptoms of menopause.
What should you expect from a Hatha yoga class?
While every class varies depending on the yoga instructor, most Hatha yoga classes last between 45 to 90 minutes. Typically, a class starts with a warm-up, followed by yoga poses and ends with a short session of meditation.
There are basically three primary elements in a Hatha class:
The class starts with a quick breathing session or pranayama. Your instructor will remind you from time to time to focus on your breath and may also guide you to try different breathing exercises, such as three-part breathing or alternate nostril breathing.
2) Yoga Poses
Yoga poses or asanas are movements that aim to improve your flexibility, balance and strength. The asanas included in Hatha yoga can range from lying flat on the yoga mat to more challenging postures. Some of the asanas may include:
Restorative poses, such as child’s pose, happy baby pose, etc.
Standing poses like the tree pose, mountain pose, wheel pose, triangle pose, etc.
If at any time during the poses, you find that an asana is too difficult, discuss it with your instructor so they can provide you with an easier modification.
The classes end with a short meditation session, where your instructor may ask you to close your eyes and lie on your back. Some yoga teachers may also cover their students with a blanket and take them through a guided meditation. Some classes may also end with participants holding hands in a prayer pose and bowing.
Hatha yoga classes offer an opportunity to release tension, stretch and intake all the positivity while being an ideal way to include cardio exercises in your busy lifestyle.
However, it’s important to remember that this form of yoga is not just about performing the poses correctly; rather it’s an opportunity to calm your mind and body, release tension and relax. It requires a great amount of patience and time to progress.