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What Is Hatha Yoga and What Are Its Benefits?

Updated: Dec 23, 2022

If you are new to yoga, you may have come across the terms 'Hatha Yoga' many times when looking for classes. But what does Hatha mean? And how do you know if it is right for you?

What is Hatha Yoga?

"Yoga has been turned into something you can ‘fit in’ to a busy modern lifestyle. But it came from something that was the complete opposite and was viewed very differently from how we view yoga now”. - Jim Mallinson, Author of 'Roots of Yoga.

Originating from India and Nepal, Hatha is a Sanskrit word and means 'force' but let's have a closer look at it. The word “hatha” can be translated two ways: as “willful” or “forceful,” or the yoga of activity, and as “sun” (ha) and “moon” (tha), the yoga of balance.

Hatha practices are designed to align and calm your body, mind and spirit in preparation for meditation. Poses are held for a little bit longer allowing you to focus on your core and strength.

Some of the ancient texts say there are two forms of Hatha Yoga: one consists of the 8 limbs of yoga, another consists of 8 mudras (gestures). Hatha yoga extends beyond asanas and follows a system for the spiritual development of a person. It requires six characteristics from a practising yogi.

  • Utsaha or enthusiasm

  • Sahasa or courage

  • Dhairya or patience

  • Jnana Tattva or essence for knowledge

  • Nishcaya or determination

  • Tyaga or sacrifice.

Hatha yoga has been adopted by the rest of the world and currently focuses on asanas or physical exercise and breathing. While we may not be able to dedicate ourselves with the same intensity to yoga practice, we can learn and use the knowledge to become more in touch with ourselves and the world around us.

Find my 8 Limbs of Yoga Series on Instagram and learn more.

Benefits of Hatha Yoga

Several research studies have been conducted to understand the benefits of Hatha yoga, some of which were proved.

  1. Stress reduction: A study showed that a single 90-minute session of Hatha yoga significantly reduced stress in participants.

  2. Core strength: This study showed that practising Hatha yoga regularly for 21 days can improve core muscle strength and balance.

  3. Reduced depression symptoms: Researchers found 12 sessions of regular Hatha yoga can decrease levels of anxiety and depression.

  4. Muscle and joint flexibility: It was suggested that practising Hatha yoga can improve flexibility in the hamstrings and spine. The study also recommends Hatha yoga for older adults who struggle with the range of motion in their joints.

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