By Disele Long

Hatha Yoga is the most common and basic yoga practiced in the Western world. Originating in India over two thousand years ago, yoga serves to clear the mind, instill a sense of peace, awaken self awareness and help the physical body maintain strength and flexibility. The “ha” translates to sun and the “tha” translates to moon. This represents the duality of our minds and body and how all of our opposites can work together. Both the dualities of meditation and exercise are explored and enhanced through Hatha yoga.

Regular yoga practice can increase your strength and flexibility. Each time you begin, your blood begins to flow better and becomes more oxygenated. This allows you to stretch and go deeper into each pose every time you try it.

Types of Asanas (Poses)

There are several types of yoga poses that incorporate the hatha style of yoga. They can be done easily with practice and patience as hatha yoga is more for beginners. The types of poses, or asanas, are:

• Seated

• Twists

• Inversion

• Balancing

• Core strengthening

• Back bending

• Forward bending

• Side bending

• Hip opening

• Prone yoga poses

• Supine yoga poses

• Standing yoga poses

Specific Poses

The specific poses of hatha yoga serve to physically improve the body and its functioning. They will also help enhance the spirit and soul. The Cat Stretch pose helps to loosen the back and relax the shoulders. The sitting pose is vital to developing patience and self awareness. This meditative pose can bring peace and calm to the mind. The Cow pose stretches the hips and legs, improves circulation and helps clear the mind. Triangle pose is primarily done to improve posture and increase lung functioning. The Tree pose is an easy and effective way to improve balance and poise. Most hatha yoga sessions end in Corpse pose. This is done by lying on your back with arms and legs spread comfortably apart. Your palms face up toward the sky.

Physical Tips

When doing some of the poses that make up basic hatha yoga, you should never feel pain. You must breathe deeply and naturally as you do the asana. As you breathe and move, the poses will come more naturally. You should never strain, but gently increase your ability to complete and hold each pose. If a pose feels difficult or painful, stop immediately and try it as you feel more secure and focused. If you already have any severe back or neck injuries or issues, you should check with a doctor before you try to do any yoga poses or techniques.

Mental Tips

In order to get the most out of a hatha yoga session, you must be in a proper state of mind. You need to be in a calm, quiet and peaceful place. Actually, all types of yoga cannot be done fully or effectively in a stressful or loud place. It is time to quietly get in touch with every aspect of your body and mind. You must also let go of any stresses, as they will interrupt your breathing and keep your mind from quieting. While many people turn to yoga to find mental peace and clarity, you must go into it in the right state of mind. You have to be open to the benefits of this meditative practice in order to fully experience it.

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