Hatha yoga is the purest, most traditional form of yoga. The word “hatha” comes from ha which means sun and tha for moon, the yoga of balance and refers to any practice with physical poses. This includes Iyengar, Ashtanga, and Power Yoga.
This system of yoga has a 5000 year history and was founded on the principle of bringing into harmony the body, mind, and spirit. The practice of Hatha Yoga consists of moving the body through poses (asanas) that stretch muscles and massage the internal organs.
Some poses require balance, strength, and concentration. This is where the body becomes a tool to train the mind and calm the spirit. The practice of yoga places emphasis on breathing (pranayama) and encourages the practitioner to direct his or her focus away from the chatter of the mind and bring it to the present moment.
Hatha Yoga is ideal for all levels of practitioners. Being one of the gentler and more meditative forms, it is especially popular with beginners who wish to understand yoga. The beauty of Hatha Yoga is that it is so easily adapted to any age or constitution. Poses and the pace can be varied as you advance in your practice. Knowing the foundational poses help you build your practice which will grow with you playing with the edge and deepening your self-awareness.
A beginner? Start with this modified Sun Salutation from Yoga Journal. This is often used as a warm up in a yoga class or practice. In this Yoga Journal article, Vinyasa Yoga and Master Class teacher Shiva Rea shares the power of this sequence, both in its simplicity and the “physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual syncopation” that comes from the posture combinations. The Sun Salutation is one powerful example of how a beginner can grow from the gentle and “easy” postures to more advanced ones.
“A Namaskar is a pause, a return to center, a new relationship to breath that’s so extraordinary you can begin feeling a deeper rhythm taking you into this whole-body movement meditation,” says Rea. “Then it begins to stimulate our awakening and devotion. It’s not the outer shell of the movement, but the inner flow, particularly the movement meditation, that brings on the state of transformation,” Shiva Rea says.