Hatha Yoga is the yoga that most people know as simply, “yoga.” Practiced for emotional and physical health and wellness, Hatha Yoga focuses on both the purification of the mind and the body, aiming to pave a path to vitality and wholeness.
Hatha Yoga was introduced by a man named Yogi Swatmarama, a yoga sage in 15th and 16th century India. Known for calmness and peacefulness, Yogi Swatmarama is a name that has now become synonymous with delight, one who paved the way for an exercise that enhances the mind, body and spirit. He began with Hatha Yoga by writing the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, a Sanskrit that was based on Swatmarama’s own experiences as well as the words of older Sanskrit texts. It details information about asanas, bandhas, kriyas, shakti, pranayama, and several other areas.
The book, as well as Hatha Yoga itself, is rich with hints of Hinduism. Perhaps the oldest religion in the world, Hinduism is a religion based on acceptance, building its foundation on a plethora of text and scriptures. It aims to teach people mystical truths, while providing guidance on how a person can grow to become morally, spiritually, hatha yoga and physically whole. Hinduism also believes the “Heaven on Earth” concept, noting it’s possible to achieve salvation while alive rather than only in death.
Part of this salvation is achieved through balance. Because the word “Hatha” is derived from Sanskrit words meaning sun (“Ha”) and moon (“Tha”) it only makes sense that Hatha Yoga places a lot of concept on the focus of balance. A type of yoga that teeters between two streams (the Ida (mental) and the Pingala (body) currents), Hatha Yoga uses the Shushumna Nadi (the current of the self) to open up various Chakras (cosmic points within the body that are awaiting release). Once this happens, a state of quieted thought and a still mind occurs while consciousness remains. This is called Samadhi and it is known as a stated of bliss.
Hatha Yoga is based on holistic principles, moral disciplines and physical exercise. It focuses greatly on poses (Asanas), breathing techniques (Pranayama) and meditation. Similar to the sun versus moon concept upon which its name is based, Hatha Yoga take energies that are in opposition – dark and light, yin and yang, fire and ice – and uses them to find a balance between the mind, body, spirit, and external forces of life.
A variety of breathing techniques, meditations, and poses all help to drive the person doing Hatha Yoga to a path of enlightenment. Among some of the most practiced poses are Bhujangasana, also known as the Cobra; the Eka Pada, also known as the one-legged king; the Halasana, also known as the Plow; the Padmasana, also known as the Lotus; and the Simhasana, also known as the Lion.
Hatha Yoga, like the word “yoga” itself, greatly uses the concept of unity, the unity between man and nature as well as the unity within each person: without unity between the mind and the body, it’s hard to accomplish anything. Depending on the individual, Hatha Yoga may be used to unite people with different things. For some, Hatha Yoga may be used to form a union with God, the Self, ones True Nature, or the Divine. For others, Hatha Yoga may be used to unite them with a much needed recovery from a stress in their life. Still for others, Hatha Yoga may be used simply as a way to unite them with themselves.
Hatha Yoga, having been around for hundreds of years, is rooted in principles that will never change, however as times are always changing these ancient principles can be evolved and applied to the 21st Century. Overall the roots of yoga teach people to obtain what everyone seeks: physical and emotional health, a clear mental state-of-mind, and a life driven not by worries, but simply by joy.
TWISTED is a medical yoga studio at the Center for Osteopathic Medicine in Boulder, Colorado. Twisted integrates osteopathic medicine, hatha yoga and mindfulness practices to teach optimal balance between physical, mental, and emotional health. It aims to
educate and help people to live a healthy life from the inside out. Rehabilitation programs offer a comprehensive treatment regime for the whole being, empowering each person one breath at a time to stimulate the body’s natural healing potential.