The practice of yoga is a renowned art form. It’s an ancient system for balancing the mind, body, and spirit. There are over 100 types of yoga practiced today, including hatha yoga. Here, Russell Herbert Jack, Southland-based yoga guru, defines hatha yoga and explains what someone may expect from this type of yogic practice.
Textural references for haṭha yoga techniques can be traced back at least to the 1st-century. The Sanskrit word “Hatha” (हठ) means “force,” and it extends well beyond an advanced physical exercise system and integrates ideas of values, diet, cleansing, breathing exercises, meditation, and a strategy for the spiritual development of the yogi.
It is thought that hatha yoga was introduced in the United States in the late 19th Century. It was considered a spiritual practice, but by the early 20th Century, it was best known for its flowing physical attributes.
The popularity of hatha yoga accelerated in the late-1960s after Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (born Mahesh Prasad Varma) integrated Transcendental Meditation into this yoga style. Maharishi was the guru to the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and other celebrities. His melding of Transcendental Meditation and yoga’s physical techniques is credited with rejuvenating classical hatha yoga.
Health benefits of Hatha yoga:
1. Reduced stress and anxiety
Both yoga and meditation are long-held effective solutions for combating stress and anxiety. While not to be used to treat mental illness or certain psychiatric conditions, meditation is used by millions of people around the world to bring calm and peace to an otherwise chaotic world.
Yoga, too, has a long history of helping people reduce stress through physical exercise. The purpose of yoga is to build vitality, consciousness, and symmetry of both the mind and body. Combined with Transcendental Meditation, yoga has been credited with providing life-altering positive changes.
2. Improved sleep
Specific yoga postures are known to promote relaxation, but by and large, the benefits from hatha yoga, when it comes to improved sleep, come from this practice’s meditative properties. Meditation can quiet the mind and body while heightening inner peace. When done before bedtime, it may reduce insomnia and sleep disturbances by promoting overall calmness.
3. Weight reduction
The weight-loss benefits of hatha yoga are not strictly due to calory consumption. For example, a person weighing 160 pounds consumes around 185 calories in an hour of hatha yoga. This is approximately half the calories consumed during an hour-long brisk walk. The more important benefits of yoga for weight control are:
- Learning to be more aware of your body, what you eat, and why
- Reduced stress, which can cause overeating
- Supportive social interaction with peers that encourage healthy eating choices
If hatha yoga seems a little too trendy for your liking, consider why it has become so popular. Millions of people around the world are discovering the deep connection between mind, body, and soul. Yoga, combined with meditation, has proven to be a useful tool for promoting flexibility, stress relief, health, and physical fitness.
About Russell Herbert Jack
Russell Herbert Jack, a yoga and mindfulness teacher from Southland, New Zealand, is passionate about spirituality, the vegan lifestyle, animal rights, and living in sync with nature. Russell specializes in Vinyasa Yoga, Qigong, and guided meditations. Vinyasa yoga, or flow yoga, heightens consciousness by moving from one position to another seamlessly, using breath. Just like Vinyasa Yoga, Qigong has many healing properties to the body, mind, and spirit. He enjoys learning and writing about spirituality, meditation, and vegan lifestyle and sharing these valuable insights with his clients.