Hatha Yoga

Hatha Yoga : Meaning

Hatha yoga is a kind of yoga which is related with the control over prana-vayu which can be attained through control over respiration. Hatha yoga in the mordern times is wrongly translated as physical yoga which gives a wrong understanding that hatha yoga is for  the sake of body. But, the right understanding of hatha yoga is ‘Yoga through control over prana or respiration’.

  • ‘Ha’ stands for ‘Sun’ : ‘pingala’ and “heating principle” or Right nostril.
  • ‘Tha’ stands for ‘Moon’, ‘Ida’ , “Cooling Principle”or Left Nostril.
Our total personality is guided by the way we breathe. Breathing has direct relationship with that of functioning of mind. In the Book named Hatha yoga pradipika declares it very clearly – cale vate calam cittam… i.e. mental conditions are immediately reflected on our breathing patterns or vice versa.
Hatha yoga also believes  in the relationship between life span and total number of breathings. Every person has definite number of breathing as his/her life span and not number of years. That is why on death of somebody we say “he breathed his last”. We are consuming this breathing @15 respiration per minute amounting to 21600 respiration per day. ( 15 x 60 i.e. one hour = 900 x 24 hours = 21600 )
Fast respiration will shorten the life span and contrary to this slow and reduced consumption will increase it. Slow consumption must be a voluntary action and not the forced involuntary action.
  • Asanas, Pranayamas, Kriyas, Surya Namaskar, Mudras and Bandhas are included in Hatha Yoga.
Asanas : Asana is a posture held firm with comfort. Asana is a third limb of Raja Yoga.
  • “Sthiram Shukham Asanam” (Pantajali)which means a “steady, stable, pleasant posture is Asana.” Asana or posture is for achieving a healthy body and healthy mind, so one can be comfortable in one position or asana for meditation and other higher practices. Asana is way to refine, awaken and channel or gross energies to subtle energies. 
There are 8.4 millions kinds of yoga poses of which only 84 are particularly useful to Yoga Practitioners.

Pranayama : Pranayama, controlling the vital forces of the body and mind is the forth limb of Raja Yoga. Pranayama is derived from Prana and Ayama. Prana means purest and subtlest forms of cosmic energy. It is all pervading, eternal and ever existing. Ayama means extension or lengthening. Breath is used as a tool to control, refine and channel our Prana. Pranayama is for cleansing our mind, nervous system, mental and emotional bodies and gradually refining gross prana or forces to subtle prana or life force or eternal cosmic energy. The Hatha-Yoga Pradipika describes eight classical Pranayamas. These are Suriya and Chandra Nari, Bhastrika, Kapalbhati, Anuloma Viloma, Nari Sodhana, Bhramari, Kaki, Shitali and Shitakari Pranayama. In the Gitananda tradition Swamiji used to teach around 120 Pranayamas.

Kriyas :

Surya Namaskar : 

Mudras : A gesture that creates a seal for energy and promotes neuromuscular coordination.

Bandhas : Neuromuscular lock for energy useful in pranayama sadhana.

The 84 yoga poses of Hatha Yoga

Lotus Pose / Padmasana
Janu Sirasasana / Head-to-Knee Forward Bend