While pulling off complex Hatha yoga poses flawlessly is sure to impress your friends and family, the benefits of regular Hatha yoga practice go beyond scoring brownie points with the people around you.
Hatha yoga traces its rich history to the 15th century, when Yogi Swatmarama, a Hindu Sage, compiled Sanskrit texts into the classic yoga manual, Hatha Yoga Pradipika. “Hatha” is an amalgamation of the Sanskrit words:
- Ha – which translates to sun
- Tha – which translates to moon
Hatha yoga is often associated with slow movements and poses, and as such, is mistakenly thought to be its own kind of yoga practice. In truth, Hatha yoga refers to physical yoga poses, which means that Vinyasa, Ashtanga, and Power yoga practices are all technically Hatha yoga.
What’s important to know is that Hatha yoga focuses on developing your strength, flexibility, stamina, and balance, emphasizing the proper execution of asanas (poses) and pranayama (breathing). If you’re a beginner, Hatha yoga should be perfect for you, as classes are often slower and less physically demanding, especially when compared to Power yoga.
So, that’s the skinny on Hatha yoga, but what exactly do you get with regular practice?
Improved Physical Fitness
The benefits of Hatha yoga in terms of physical fitness are perhaps the most obvious, playing a huge role behind its global popularity. Regular yoga practice allows you to:
- Build muscle
- Improve your posture and flexibility
- Improve circulation
- Improve balance
And the best part? You don’t even need any real gym equipment, besides your standard yoga mat.
Hatha yoga’s focus on proper breathing is hinged on the idea of promoting a sense of calmness. Think of it as a way to escape from the real world and its many stressors.
This approach means that regular Hatha yoga can:
- Prevent or improve hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Reduce migraines
- Reduce chronic back and neck pain
Although the asanas in a 1-hour Hatha yoga class won’t burn as many calories as, say, a boxing class or 1-hour run, consistent practice and a balanced diet are guaranteed to help you shed the excess pounds.
Improved Focus and Mindfulness
As mentioned earlier, Hatha yoga isn’t just about breaking a sweat, but also proper breathing. Practitioners use these breathing techniques to reach a meditative state, clearing their mind of the outside world.
Practically all yoga practices promote the achievement of inward focus and mindfulness, or a state of awareness of your body movements, your breathing, and even your mind’s thoughts and responses to difficult poses and quietness.
If you find yourself suffering from chronic pain in your back or neck, gentler Hatha yoga asanas and sequences can help provide therapeutic relief from pain. You can soothe aching muscles with poses that gently stretch the spine and improve joint mobility. Likewise, yoga breathing techniques can provide relief from sinus problems and asthma.
Of course, it’s important to consult your physician before engaging in any kind of therapy. Talk to your doctor before you practice yoga.
As you can see, a regular Hatha yoga practice offers several different benefits that encompass multiple touchpoints. Whether you approach it from a physical standpoint, or a more spiritual one, rest assured you’re reaping benefits for your health and wellness. We hope these perks will help you start your practice.