Whether you’re an experienced yogi looking to refresh your knowledge or a beginner looking to get started with your practice, hatha yoga is a great starting point. Although there are many practices within yoga and yoga asanas, hatha yoga is the foundation from which all other yoga forms stem.
What is Hatha Yoga
Hatha yoga is an ancient practice that focuses on the physical aspects of yoga. The Sanskrit word hatha stands for a union of opposites — sun and moon, hot and cold, light and dark. Hatha yoga combines the two, thereby creating a balance between relaxation and activity. It is done through various physical postures or asanas, controlled breathing exercises (pranayama) and meditation. This helps stabilize the body and mind, bringing you closer to self-realization.
Hatha Yoga Poses
As with any yoga practice, understanding and exploring the postures will help you maximize your benefits. Before beginning, it’s best to warm up your body with some light stretching. Once you’re ready, here are some common hatha yoga poses:
This should be the base for all other poses. Stand with your feet together and arms by your side (you can raise your arms or bring palms together if desired). Your feet should be together and firmly planted on the ground. Straighten your back and lift your chin up, creating a straight line from feet to the head. Hold for 15-30 seconds.
Begin standing in mountain pose. As you inhale, raise your arms up above your head. Lower your body into a semi-squat position as your arms reach towards the sky. Keep your shoulders back and down, and keep your face and chest lifted forward. Your weight should be primarily in your heels. Try to hold for 15-30 seconds.
Start in mountain pose and step your right foot back and to the right into a lunge. Lift your arms up above your head and rest your arms together. Make sure your feet are long and feet are both facing the same direction. Keep your knee in line with your ankle, and press your palms together or reach up. Hold for 15-30 seconds.
Reverse Prayer Pose
A variation of the traditional prayer pose, reverse prayer pose is an effective stretch for your shoulders, triceps, and chest. With your arms behind your back, you need to interlace your fingers and bring your palms together. Now reach your hands as far as possible, keeping your palms together. Lift your elbows up in a way that stretches your shoulders and chest. Hold for 15-30 seconds.
Whether you’re a beginner or a pro at hatha yoga, try out these poses and find how it works for you. Remember to regularly practice the poses and get guidance from your instructor to get the best results in your practice. Enjoy the flow!