What is Hatha Yoga? Know the Benefits of Hatha Yoga Asanas

Originated in ancient India, Yoga is a mental, spiritual, and physical discipline practiced for health benefits and relaxations through postures, breathing control, and meditation. Through its asanas, Yoga aims at developing harmony between the human body, his mind, and the surroundings or environment. Recently, Hatha Yoga, a form of traditional Yoga, has become a globally popular mind-body exercise along the lines of Pilates, Tai, Chi, etc. This complementary and alternative medicine offers numerous fitness and health benefits to its practitioners.

What is Hatha Yoga?

Hatha means forceful in Sanskrit. Although it might seem as having a negative impact, forcefulness in Hatha Yoga is in a positive sense. Hatha Yoga denotes focus, restraint, and dedication to achieve self-transformation through intense physical and mental discipline. In its present form, Hatha Yoga refers to slow-paced classes that focus on stretching and holding the posture for longer durations. In Hatha Yoga, you focus on balancing, twisting, squeezing, or bending your body to soothe your body, mind, and spirit.

what is hatha yoga

Although the origin of Hatha Yoga dates back to the 1st century, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, written by Rishi Swatmarama in the 15th century, is the basis of the Hatha Yoga that we know today. The book, believed to be a compilation of several older texts, has four chapters with gradually deepening yoga practice to take you through different levels of embodied experience. Shri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya and Swami Sivananda Saraswati adapted the techniques from the book into simple exercises in the early 19th century. Later on, his pupils B. K. S. Iyengar and Viniyoga popularized Hatha Yoga for the general public for their mental and physical well-being throughout the globe.

Guide – Hatha Yoga for Beginners

Although it might seem confusing or intimidating, starting Hatha Yoga at home is quite simple. You can start small and hold the poses for a moderate duration of around 30 to 60 seconds and gradually increase it. Follow these top Hatha Yoga asanas to improve your physical and mental health:

Easy Pose (Sukhasana)

easy pose sukhasana

The Easy or Relaxed Pose is a perfect place to begin your Hatha Yoga practice as it soothes your brain and prepares it for meditation.

  • Sit cross-legged by bending one leg and put it under the other thigh. Bend your other leg underneath the folded pose.
  • Press into the floor through your sitting bones.
  • Sit over your sitting bones, and press into the floor, keeping your pelvis straight.
  • Stretch your spine to draw the crown of your head upwards.
  • Keep your palms in your lap or your knees, tilt your head and chin towards the chest.
  • Expand through your abdomen and chest as you breathe deeply.

Downward-Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

downward facing dog pose adho mukha svanasana

Adho Mukha Svanasana is a crucial pose for Hatha Yoga to open the back of your body and build strength. A part of the Sun-Salutation (Suryanamaskar) sequence, you can use this yoga pose as either a transitional or a resting pose.

  • Start the pose from a tabletop position by coming to your hands and knees.
  • Place your wrists under the shoulders and your knees under the hips. Push through your hands on the floor.
  • Move the weight of your body from your arms to your quadriceps like the Plank Pose.
  • Rotate your thighs and keep your heels towards the floor with your tail high.
  • Bend your knees as you exhale, release, and come back to your hands and knees.

Low Lunge Pose (Anjaneyasana)

low lunge pose anjaneyasana
  • From the Downward Dog Pose, bring your right foot forward between your legs.
  • Align your right knee over the heel and move your left knee towards the floor.
  • Keeping your right knee fixed, stretch, and move your left-back by straightening your left thigh.
  • Inhale and lift both your arms towards the ceiling. Try to bring your arms together if you can.
  • Switch sides and repeat the exercise

Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)

cobra pose bhujangasana
  • Start with your belly on the floor with palms resting alongside your body at the shoulder level.
  • In the beginning, keep your legs slightly apart and join them firmly together in due course.
  • Lift the crown of your head towards the ceiling by pressing into the floor.
  • Draw your hips down as you open your chest.
  • As a beginner, keep your arms bent and straighten them gradually as you master the pose.

Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)

triangle pose trikonasana
  • To do the Triangle pose first you need to stand straight and maintain a distance of about 3-4 feet between your legs.
  • Keep your right foot at 90 degrees and left foot by around 10-15 degrees. Balance your weight evenly on both feet.
  • Inhale and spread out your arms.
  • As you exhale, tip your body on the side by moving your right hand towards the right shin.
  • Move your left hand towards the ceiling.
  • Switch sides and repeat the steps on the left side.

Tree Pose (Vrkasana)

tree pose vrkasana
  • Stand straight in the Mountain Pose and distribute your weight evenly on your feet.
  • Shift your weight into your right foot as you lift the left foot off the floor.
  • Bend your left knee as you keep your right leg straight, and place the left sole on your inner right thigh.
  • Apply pressure between your thigh and foot and hold the pose. Release by lowering your left foot on the floor. Switch your feet and repeat the asana

Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)

seated forward bend paschimottanasana
  • Sit on the floor, keep your legs together, and extend your legs.
  • Pull your toes back towards your shins and point them towards the ceiling.
  • Bending your knees slightly, sit straight on your sit bones, and stretch your spine.
  • Bend forward as you try to touch the feet using your hands.
  • Tucking your chin into the chest, fold your torso between the legs.

Sage Marichi’s Twist (Marichyasana)

sage marichi's twist marichyasana
  • Sit on the floor in Dandasana Pose with your legs in front of the body.
  • Bend your right knee and keep the foot on the floor by placing the heel as close to your left sitting bone as possible.
  • Keeping your right hand behind your back, inhale, and lift your left arm towards the ceiling.
  • Hook your left arm over your left knee as you exhale. Squeeze your upper arm into the thigh and twist yourself.

Corpse Pose (Savasana)

  • Savasana is the final resting pose as you finish your Hatha Yoga Practice.  
  • Lie on your back. Rest your arms at the sides and palms facing up.
  • Release all the muscles of your body as you inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth.
  • Start with gentle breathing, followed by deep inhaling and exhaling

Benefits of Hatha Yoga Asanas

  • Hatha Yoga builds flexibility and improves mobility.
  • Hatha Yoga is an effective way to build strength and core muscles.
  • Hatha Yoga helps in keeping your joints healthy.
  • Hatha Yoga stimulates your immune system by increasing the blood circulation.
  • Hatha Yoga helps in relieving inflammatory diseases like arthritis, digestion, diabetes, etc.
  • Hatha Yoga develops a sense of balance and stabilizes your body by strengthening the support muscles.
  • Hatha Yoga instills self-control by disciplining your mind and body.
  • Hata Yoga is effective in reducing stress and anxiety.
  • Hatha Yoga provides relaxation and peace of mind by improving your sleep quality.
  • Hatha Yoga improves self-awareness and transcends your body into a meditative state.

So, these are some Hatha Yoga asanas for beginners to start practicing yoga on the daily basis.

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