Hatha yoga is the teaching about physical harmony achieved through asanas (physical body poses), pranayamas (breathing exercises), mudras and bandhas (exercises for managing internal energies). One of the translations of the term “hatha” is “the sun and the moon.” It means that there are two types of energy in the body in two channels: the left – Ida (the moon channel), and the right – Pingala (the solar channel). Ida manages mental energy and corresponds to the parasympathetic reactions of the body (passivity, relaxation), while Pingala is associated with vital energy and corresponds to the sympathetic reactions of the body (activity, tension). Therefore, the main task of hatha yoga is to balance these two energies in the body which eventually allows the energy to pass through the central channel – Sushumna. This energy awakes higher spiritual consciousness.
Hatha Yoga uses the concept of chakras – special energy centers in the human body. Each of them is associated with a certain level of consciousness. The lower chakras are responsible for the unconscious plan of existence. The middle ones are responsible for the subconscious mechanisms. The upper ones are responsible for the consciousness. Finally, the seventh chakra, the sahasrara, connects the person with the higher spiritual consciousness. Thus, the first 7 steps of yoga Patanjali correspond to 7 chakras in the human body, while the 8th step leads to the chakra, which is located above the head.
The energy of each chakra is associated with the functioning of a certain level of the physiological system of the body:
|Chakra||Body area/ Physiological system of the body||Elements of nature||Aspects of life|
|Muladhara||Base of the spine, excretory, reproductive system||Earth||Stability of mind and body, safety, security|
|Svadhisthana||Sacrum, urogenital, reproductive systems||Water||Creativity, pleasure, happiness, sexual life|
|Manipura||Solar plexus, digestive and metabolic systems||Fire||Power, motivation, self-esteem, life-force, ability to meet challenges|
|Anahata||Center of the chest, cardiovascular, respiratory systems||Air||Love, trust, compassion, sensitivity, kindness, respect|
|Vishuddha||Throat area, endocrine system||Ether||Communication, self-expression, wisdom|
|Ajna||Between the eyebrows, peripheral, nervous system||Light||Perception, intellect, emotional and mental intelligence, intuition|
|Sahasrara||The top of the head, central nervous system via hypothalamus||Pure consciousness, oneness with the world, openness to the divine|
Hatha yoga is not only an independent and full-fledged way of self-improvement, but it is also a very desirable basis for higher yoga practices.
Its exercises do not just tone the body’s muscular system. Hatha yoga practice affects the entire body, including internal organs and even the hormonal system balance. As a result of Hatha yoga practice, we can observe natural normalization of all metabolic processes in the body, nutrition, and purification of organs.
But the main goal of Hatha Yoga is still more global. Thus, this is the development of the mind, the ability to take control of your feelings, emotions, and thoughts. Therefore, it helps to get rid of unmotivated aggression, depressions, anxiety, various fears, panic attacks. To achieve this, to make our mind to work in a “normal” mode, first of all, we have to learn how to control our body, to make it strong. In other words, to manage to do something you just need to start taking care of it, and consequently, the body will help to achieve harmony and success; it will not be an obstacle anymore.
As a result of Hatha Yoga classes, the body becomes healthy, acquires beautiful forms, endurance, and flexibility. Consequently we are able to regulate the feeling of hunger; we easily endure adverse conditions: cold, heat, humidity, etc. In addition, the emotional sphere is getting balanced. We become calmer and more joyful because unnecessary anxieties and worries disappear. Besides that, sleep improves; we recover quickly after stress. And eventually, the efficiency of mental activity, creative abilities significantly increase as well.