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Hatha Yoga 101

Aug 17, 2007
More and more people today are engaging in stress-relieving activities that vary from recreational activities to wider range of activities that would fall under a certain way of life. Yoga, is one of these activities.

The noise and fast pace of modern life is continuously adding stress for many. Many individuals, especially those who live in the city continuously seek peace of mind. Yoga, in general, is one of the more popular channels of stress relief today. It has been commercialized and more and more people are getting into the bandwagon. Some people see it as a recreational activity or a pastime, some view it as a form of exercise of the body, mind and soul, while some adopt it as a way of life. Yoga, which originated from India, is a living tradition that is centered on enlightenment of the human person.

Yoga, in general, is associated with the other facets of human life. It brings into play spiritual enhancement, betterment of the physique and the honing of the human mind. There are more things that yoga touches than what it seems to deal with at first glance.

Hatha Yoga

Hatha Yoga is one of the traditions of what we call Tantra Yoga. It is depicted as the most physically imposing type of Yoga since it focuses on the general movements and postures of the body. Hatha Yoga is based on the concept of combining polar opposites and the intertwining of different elements. It's name literally means "sun and "moon." Just like the concepts of "hot" and "cold" or the "ying and yang," "sun and moon" illustrates the transcendence of two opposing elements together. One might ask "what about these polar opposites?" The whole concept of polar opposites comes into play when we talk about balance. Hatha Yoga is all about maintaining balance in every aspect of one's life. This will be explained later on as we talk about the different postures and breathing patterns that are associated with Hatha Yoga.

Hatha Yoga is basically concentrated on breathing control and postures. However, on a bigger note, it is a holistic approach which generally includes physical exercises, moral values and meditation, if one would view it as a way of life. Since Hatha Yoga is one of the more popular forms of Yoga in the Western World, it has transformed and found for itself new definitions.

It is said that the basic objective of Hatha Yoga is to pave the way towards the subsequent phases in Yoga such as sense-withdrawal, concentration and meditation.

Asana

One of the main elements of Hatha Yoga is body posture. Exercise posture or Asana is greatly emphasized in Hatha Yoga. Posture is believed to be a key towards achieving true meditation. If one has already mastered his postures, then can be able to achieve higher levels of meditation and concentration. Proper posture is the way towards achievement of sense-withdrawal and true meditation.

Pranayama

Breathing exercises through Pranayama is also essential towards achievement of balance. "Prana" means life force and "Ayama" means to prolong- to prolong one's life force. Hatha Yoga is based on the belief that mastery of one's breathing techniques is a key towards the higher stages of meditation. It opens up channels to the brain and regulates the elements that enter and exit throughout one's body.

Doing Hatha Yoga

There are many venues to to Hatha Yoga today. One can always those Hatha Yoga videos which are widely available in bookstores. However, it is always more advisable to sign up for an established Hatha Yoga class. Videos will never capture the true essence of Hatha, and there would be things that the video would not teach and will tell you to buy the 2nd version and then the 3rd one to be able to avail of the information. The good thing about taking up a class is that you can ask someone you know to join you and this can make the whole experience more fulfilling.

Remember that there are a lot of different types of Hatha Yoga today. Please consult your instructor and tell them if you have any kinds of illnesses. Remember to bring your own mat and towel. The other materials, such as belts and blocks, are usually provided by the instructor.
About the Author
Lee Dobbins writes for http://yoga.health-webzone.com where you can learn more about different types of yoga .
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