In the western world, Hatha yoga is one of the most commonly practiced form of yoga. It is also called the Yoga of Postures, since it is mainly focused on asana and pranayama, the third and the fourth limb of yoga. Hatha yoga is described by Yogi Swatmarama, a Hindu sage of 15th century India. ‘Ha’ means sun and ‘tha’ means moon. Therefore Hatha yoga is commonly translated as uniting opposites and creating balance. It refers to creating balance between opposites such as female and male (energies) or hot and cold. Another common translation of Hatha is forceful or willful, since it requires a lot of physical efforts. A reasonable amount of time is spent in the poses to discover correct alignment and develop strength and flexibility. Patanjali defines asana as ‘a posture which can be hold for a certain amount of time’. Since you spend some time in each pose, the challenge is to focus on the posture, stay attentive and surrender to the moment. In this way body and mind are connected and becoming more balanced.
Hatha yoga is perfectly suitable for beginners, since it generally is a slow-paced stretching class with gentle basic poses with no flow in between the asanas. It is a perfect way to increase your feelings of health and wellbeing and get used to asana, meditation, breathing and relaxing techniques. My introduction to yoga started off with Hatha yoga as well. For me it was a perfect way to get used to different postures, learn to sit still and observe my mind and especially learn to relax. During my first experiences in savasana or corpse pose I felt restless. While other yoga practitioners around me were almost sound asleep, I became aware of my overactive mind; thoughts and feelings where all over the place. I realized how much I was used to comparing myself with others all the time. How easily I judge myself and others. For sure my initial steps in the world of yoga, were not always smooth, joyful and peaceful. Yoga has taught me to be real and to start accepting myself just the way I am. Yoga not only connects my body, mind and spirit, it also provides me with feelings of connectedness with other people.