You hear a lot about Hatha Yoga but this thousand-year-old practice is still a mystery to you? This article from Yogom is for you! You will learn all about this discipline which mixes several types of practices in order to work your body but also your mind!
Hatha means “strength, violence”. This echoes the techniques used which exert constraints that act with force on the body and the organism of the practitioners in this practice. Hatha Yoga is now one of the most popular denominations of modern postural yoga. In particular, the evolution of the discipline can be simplified into three important phases:
- the phase of training and development of the practice which corresponds to the realization of the first repertoires between the 11th and 14th centuries.
- the synthesis phase which corresponds to the gathering of techniques between the 14th and 15th centuries.
- the phase of diversification during which practices and notably postures multiply, between the 15th and 18th centuries.
Hatha Yoga has its origins in thousand-year-old techniques that do not necessarily belong to the yogic world but rather to the Indian culture. Regardless of the origin and age of all these techniques, it is only since the conception of Hatha Yoga texts that they are methodically described and become true yoga techniques.
A symbolic interpretation given to Hatha Yoga is that the syllable ha means “sun” and the syllable tha means “moon”, it is thus defined as “the yoga of the Sun and the Moon”. This meaning refers to the use of these two stars as symbols in the description of the different exercises. Another symbolism is to say that the Moon represents the container of the nectar of immortality which is then located in our head. In the same way, the Sun represents the digestive fire of our abdomen.
Hatha Yoga requires a sustained physical effort with delicate postures. The aim is to awaken and stimulate vital energy,activate the digestive fire and retain sexual fluids in order toextend life.
Hatha Yoga enjoys great popularity as it is the most practiced discipline in the West. Nevertheless, according to some experts, the form that is practiced in the West is actually a modified form of the original practice. Indeed, the more complicated techniques as well as the different methods of concentration and meditation are less important. It is therefore a more simplified form of true Hatha Yoga.
In France, the discipline arrived around the middle of the 20th century. In 1945, the first school dedicated to Hatha Yoga was opened in Paris. Finally, in 1947, Shri Mahesh Ghatradyal was the first great Indian master to settle in France to give classes in the westernized version of the practice. He founded the French Federation of Hatha Yoga (FFHY) and theInternational School of Traditional Yoga (EIDYT).
As you can imagine, this yoga offers many benefits, both physical and psychological. Indeed, the mix of dynamic practice, breathing techniques and meditation is an excellent way to keep in shape physically and morally.
First, here is a list of physical benefits you will receive from practicing Hatha Yoga:
- Improved flexibility
- Strengthening of the abdominal and back muscles
- Reduction of back pain
- Relaxation of the body
- Improved concentration by maintaining the postures
- Oxygenation of the brain thanks to respiratory work
- Improved lung capacity
- Work on all areas of the body through the different asanas
- Improvement of blood pressure
- Increased resistance to fatigue
- Hormone simulation
- Improvement of cardiovascular capacities
Finally, here are the mental health benefits of a regular practice of Hatha Yoga:
- Discipline of the mind through meditations
- Improved sense of mental well-being
- Better management of stress and anxiety
- Intense mental relaxation
- Better management of emotions on a daily basis
- Increased sense of strength
- Helps to find mental serenity
- Reduction of sleep disorders
If you are still afraid to sign up for a Hatha Yoga session, here is what a classic session looks like.
First of all, although Hatha Yoga is quite physical, it is suitable for beginners as well as for the most experienced yogis. Indeed, contrary to what one may think, flexibility and regular sports practice are not a necessity to participate in a Hatha Yoga class. So don’t be afraid to join a class, even if you’ve never practiced before!
In fact, teachers and studios usually organize different courses that target different levels so that the sessions correspond to the expectations and abilities of each person. The difficulty varies mainly in the postures performed. On the other hand, there are no contraindications or minimum age requirements, so pregnant women and children can also practice this yoga.
If you are a beginner, we advise you to start with one session per week to get used to it, then you can intensify your practice by increasing the number of sessions per week.
As for the session, it usually lasts an hour and a half. Each class begins with a muscular warm-up in synchronization with breathing exercises. However, the warm-up may vary depending on your teacher. Some people like to add sun salutations in order to stimulate the energy in the whole body of the practitioners.
After the warm-up, the heart of the session can begin. One of the particularities of Hatha Yoga classes is that it consists ofasanas that must be held for longer periods of time than in other types of yoga. It is this gentle and deep stretching of the muscles as well as the sequence of different postures that will allow you to let go. You will find a feeling of well-being and calm.
Finally, the class always ends with a period dedicated to relaxation with meditation and stretching.
Hatha Yoga requires a regular practice to feel all its positive effects and to progress. Moreover, it is a dynamic yoga that mixes several disciplines. The choice of a versatile equipment is then essential. Indeed, the right equipment for the discipline you practice can help you progress without injury. For Hatha Yoga, we recommend the following criteria: a non-slip mat so that you don’t slip during your more complicated asanas, a mat that is not too thick to make balancing asanas easier but thick enough to be comfortable during your meditations.
Several Yogom mats may be suitable for you:
The Star Yoga Mat:
The Star Range mat will accompany you in all your sessions! It is ideal for all dynamic practices, regardless of your level of practice. The Star mat is equally suitable for people who sweat and those who do not. In addition, this mat has a non-slip surface rated at 3/3, so you won’t slip and will be protected during your asanas! On the other hand, it adapts very well to gentle yogas and meditation. Finally, its coating allows indoor and outdoor use to follow you everywhere!
Performance Yoga Mat:
The Performance Line mat is also an excellent solution for practicing Hatha Yoga! Indeed, it is adapted to the dynamic practices as well as to the soft practices with its microfiber covering, very pleasant to the touch, which will help you to relax. In addition, the Performance Mat is made for indoor and outdoor practices and is also foldable like a towel for convenience. Finally, the Performance mat is the reference for yogis who tend to sweat since its microfiber coating is very adherent to the contact of perspiration, which prevents you from slipping and protects you. For those who don’t sweat much, but have fallen for its soft finish, don’t panic! Simply dampen your mat before each class to trigger its adhesion. Do not hesitate to moisten it again throughout the session when necessary.
Finally, we recommend the Yoga Shakti combination. This loose-fitting suit made of fluid material will prevent you from being restricted in your practice. Now you can say goodbye to tight clothes that restrict your movement!
In addition, the Shakti suit allows your whole body to breathe during the practice in order to better evacuate perspiration in a discipline as physical as Hatha-Yoga. You can also wear it every day for a chic and simple outfit! All you have to do is choose from the two available colors!
Now that you know what a Hatha Yoga session looks like, here are five exercises that you will find very frequently in this discipline.
- The cobra posture, or Bhujangasana, which consists in lying on the abdomen. With your legs extended, place your hands flat on the floor in line with your shoulders. Then simply inhale and lift your chest. The position is held for several breaths. Don’t forget to exhale as you lower your chest!
- The boat posture or Paripurna-navâsana which is a fundamental posture which consists in lying on the back while stretching the legs. You should then breathe in while lifting your outstretched legs. All you have to do is grab your calves. However, it is important to keep your back straight!
- The plank posture or Kumbhakâsana-dandâsana. In this posture, you must place your hands on the ground while stretching your arms, in the continuation of your shoulders. You must then perform a flexion with your arms to lift your body. The goal is to keep your body in a straight position, like a board;
- The posture of the release of the winds or Pavanamuktasana which consists in lying down on the back by bringing the knees towards the bust. You should then encircle your knees with your arms, applying pressure to your abdomen. Then, try to join your chin to your knees on an exhale.
- The bow pose or Dhanurasana which consists in lying on your abdomen while trying to catch your ankles with your hands, all while bending your knees. On an inhalation, lift your head and look forward.