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What is Hatha Yoga?

Updated: Mar 24, 2023

Hatha yoga explained:

Hatha yoga is a traditional style of yoga and is often considered the foundation of all yoga practices. The term "hatha" comes from two Sanskrit words: "ha," meaning sun, and "tha," meaning moon. These two opposing energies represent the physical and mental aspects of the practice.

Hatha yoga focuses on the physical postures (asanas), breathing techniques (pranayama), and purification practices (shat kriyas) to balance and align the two energy channels in the body, known as the ida and pingala nadis. These nadis are said to run through the spine and correspond to different physical and emotional states in the body.

Through the practice of hatha yoga, practitioners seek to balance these two opposing energies to achieve a state of equilibrium and harmony within the body and mind. This can lead to improved physical health, mental clarity, and spiritual awareness.

Hatha yoga classes typically include a combination of different asanas, pranayama techniques, and shat kriyas, tailored to the needs of each individual practitioner. It is suitable for all levels of fitness and can be practiced by people of all ages and abilities.

The Hatha Shat Kriyas, also known as the Six Purification Techniques or Shat Karmas, is a set of practices within the Hatha Yoga tradition that aim to purify and balance the body and mind. The six techniques are:

1.Neti - nasal cleansing using a neti pot or saline solution

2.Dhauti - cleansing of the digestive tract using techniques such as drinking saltwater or swallowing a long strip of cloth

3.Nauli - abdominal massage and manipulation of the internal organs

4.Basti - colon cleansing using an enema

5.Kapalabhati - forceful exhalations through the nostrils to cleanse the respiratory system

6.Trataka - focused gazing on a specific object or point to improve concentration and purify the eyes

These practices are considered advanced and should be learned under the guidance of a qualified yoga teacher. They are believed to have numerous benefits, including improved digestion, respiratory health, and mental clarity. However, they are not necessary for basic yoga practice and should be approached with caution and respect for one's individual limitations and health conditions.

Picture 1: Meditation, Asana, and Pranayama (parts of Hatha Yoga)


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