Hatha yoga: benefits and how to practice it

Hatha yoga is one of the most popular styles of the discipline.  Beginners find in it the perfect point to start the practice and then move on to other modalities. Specifically, it is associated with the release of stress and the attainment of calm and concentration.

The most interesting? Everyone can try it since it does not set limits on age or physical condition. In any case, the idea is to have a professional guide, who teaches the connection between physical and mental exercise. Keep reading!

What is Hatha yoga?

Yoga in its Hatha classification refers to the execution of positions and breathing techniques oriented to full attention. The beginnings of this practice date back to India, based on the skills described in the Pradipika.

Some call it ” strength yoga”, others stick to the meaning of the word; « ha» is sun and « tha» is the moon, so they assume that it seeks the union between solar and lunar energies, as well as the masculine and feminine characteristics of every person.

What is Hatha yoga?

Hatha yoga is ideal for anyone. Its practice brings physical and mental benefits.

Characteristics of Hatha yoga

The Hatha is a more static asana than the rest of the varieties; it is distinguished by stretching, alignment, and maintenance of postures. It is not as challenging a method as other forms of exercise.

Its essence completes a harmonious sequence, which goes from the internal to the external so that each session helps to materialize the moral and ethical lessons embodied in the Pradipika. The teachings revolve around the following precepts:

  • Yama: are the rules relating to behavior.
  • Niyama: is self-discipline and spiritual observance.
  • Asana: correspond to the physical postures that seek concentration.
  • Pranayama: it is about the control of the breath until connecting with the emotions.
  • Pratyahara: consists of introspection, getting away from distractions, and attending to the interior.
  • Dharana: Here you focus on a thought to meditate on.
  • Dhyana: it is the maximum stillness, the uninterrupted meditation.
  • Samadhi: transcends the “I” and integration with the universe occurs.

Benefits of Hatha Yoga

Hatha, like the other varieties, offers multiple benefits. As  Metas de Enfermería explains, yoga serves as physical, cognitive, and behavioral therapy for older adults.

In that same order, according to the Annals of the Faculty of Medical Sciences magazine, there is evidence on the usefulness of these unconventional exercises for people’s health.

To be more precise, the asanas of “strength yoga” support the joints, minimize inflammation, improve digestion and stimulate the immune system. Here are some other benefits.

Relieves severe pain

Harvard Medical School lists Hatha as the most popular style of yoga in the United States. The note points out that discipline helps relieve chronic pain and is beneficial for patients suffering from the following diseases:

  • Arthritis.
  • Migraine.
  • Fibromyalgia.
  • Low back pain.

Promotes rest

A Johns Hopkins Medicine paper recommends Hatha yoga to improve sleep. The institution argues that thanks to the breathing exercises and postures involved, this activity favors the quality of rest.

Helps flexibility

The sequences in Hatha provide strength and gradual flexibility, which contributes to good physical condition.

Improves lung capacity

By working on different types of breathing, lung and heart capacities improve . The Rama Yoga School advises the practice in times of low temperatures and frosts, in order to strengthen the respiratory system.

Reduces stress and anxiety

Classes of this type of yoga are linked to the reduction of anxiety. Middlesex Health says that due to the slow pace, Hatha postures are a suitable option for managing stress and enhancing mindfulness.

Strengthens muscles and spine

By holding the poses for several minutes, you strengthen your muscles. It also tones the spine and, due to the smooth movements, helps the proper flow of nerve impulses.

How to practice the basic asanas of Hatha yoga?

Hatha groups submodalities such as Integer, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, and dynamic yoga. The convenient thing is to explore and stay with the variant that suits your needs. For the sessions, even if they are in school or at home with videos, the following elements are useful:

  • Mat.
  • yoga block.
  • Meditation blanket.
  • yogi belt

With proper instruction perform each asana for at least 30 seconds about 10 times; in this period, it regulates deep inhalations and exhalations. Among the most common postures, those described below stand out.

The tree

Its other name is Vrikshasana and it is beneficial because it rejuvenates the body by stretching the legs, back, and arms. Apart from promoting balance, it cooperates with the relief of some cases of sciatica.

It is preferable to avoid this asana if you suffer from low or high blood pressure, insomnia, or headache. To carry it out, follow the order that we will see.

  • Standing, bend your right knee bringing this foot to the inside of your left thigh.
  • Balance the supporting leg, keeping it straight.
  • Take a breath, raise your arms, and put your hands on your head as a sign of Namaste.
  • Fix your gaze on a frontal object, while you breathe long and deep until you relax.
  • After half a minute, exhale, lower your right leg and direct your hands to your sides.
  • Repeat the steps with the left leg.

The bridge

This position is Setu Bandhasana, suitable for stimulating the abdominal organs, digestion, thyroid, and lungs. It also reduces fatigue and menstrual discomfort.

It is not a suitable asana after knee, neck, shoulder, or back injuries. Do it as we teach you now.

  • Lie down in Shavasana, with your arms stretched out at your side.
  • Bend your knees and leave your feet flat.
  • Take the ankle with the palms and breathe.
  • Raise your back in a relaxed way.
  • Inhale and exhale calmly.
  • With a deep exhalation, lower your back and rest.

Fold forward

The Uttanasana represents a path to relief from depression and stress. Similarly, it reduces the symptoms of menopause, asthma, and high blood pressure, among other conditions.

People with back injuries should not do this posture, alternatively, they can modify the execution by bending the knees.

  • You start by raising your hands as in Urdhva Hastasana.
  • Lower the arms to the sides of the body and descend in a forward fold from the hips.
  • Align your toes and press the mat with the palms of your hands.
  • Bend your knees slightly and shift your weight toward your heels, keeping your hips above your ankles. Let your head hang and prepare to return to the start.
  • Return to the starting position, inhaling and coming up slowly.

The cobra

  • The yogi term is Bhujangasana and its contributions have to do with the flexibility and mobility of the spine and neck. You do the cobra pose as follows.
  • Lie face down on the mat.
  • Stretch your legs and keep your feet together, supporting the tops of your feet.
  • Extend your hands alongside your body and allow your palms to press into the ground.
  • Take a breath, raise your head and chest and slightly flex your arms without removing them from your sides.
  • The pelvis and thighs rest on the mat.
  • Complete several breath cycles. The last one is to return to the beginning, touching the ground with the forehead.

The cobra pose relaxes the muscles and promotes flexibility.

Grasshopper

The Salabhasana or the grasshopper involves extensive muscular effort and intensity. This posture promotes the flexibility of the lower back and massages the digestive system.

Likewise, it is an allied asana in the correction of curvature problems. You develop it like this:

  • Lie on your stomach and with your arms by your sides. The palms of the hands are facing up.
  • Take a breath and raise your head, chest, and legs. In parallel, she stretches her arms back.
  • Boots air and lower your arms and legs at the same time.

Considerations if you are a beginner in the Hatha yoga modality

In a publication of the National Library of Medicine of the United States they limit that, for yoga in general, it is appropriate to start slowly and with the basic movements.

Look for classes according to your level and always have the advice of an expert yogi. Those who have any health condition, before entering the discipline, should consult a doctor.

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