Hatha Yoga – Importance, Benefits, History – Yoga for Flexibility

A very traditional yet calming form of yoga is Hatha yoga. The word Hatha is derived from the Sanskrit word  ‘हठ’ which means ‘Force’ and thus suggests a system of the substantial technique of the human body.

Hatha Pradipika’, the said ‘modern’ version of Hatha Yoga was written in the 15th Century.

Hatha yoga Poses
Hatha Yoga

The text was compiled by ‘Maharishi Swatmarama’ who explained the entire science behind this form of yoga. It includes all the asanas, pranayamas, shatkarmas, mudras, or hand gestures and bandhas The oldest version of this Yoga can be found both in Hindu as well as Buddhist texts dating back to the 1st Century.

According to Wikipedia, Haṭha yoga is associated in popular tradition with the Yogis of the Natha Sampradaya through its traditional founder Matsyendranath, who is celebrated as a saint in both Hindu and Buddhist tantric and haṭha yoga schools. Almost all hathayogic texts belong to the Nath siddhas, and the important ones are credited to Matsyendranath’s disciple, Gorakhnath or Gorakshanath. According to the Dattatreya Yoga Śastra, there are two forms of haṭha yoga: one practiced by Yajñavalkya consisting of the eight limbs of yoga, and another practiced by Kapila consisting of eight mudras.

Hatha Yoga is not an exercise but a flow of energy instead. In detail, it is the science of the human body, creating a favorable atmosphere and environment and then deriving the energy that is stored in our body is what is called ‘Hatha Yoga’ in true terms. The practice of Hatha Yoga focuses basically on the human breath, body, and mind.

The balance in Hatha Yoga comes from molding your body into different postures that bring flexibility and strength and help the mind and body to relax at the same time. While doing this yoga, one can experience harmony between the bodily sensations and the rhythm of their breathing.

Health benefits derived from the practice of Hatha Yoga

Yoga Health Benefits


  • Lower levels of depression and anxiety: Yoga has always been associated with the benefits that it provides to people suffering from depression. It helps to release the optimistic and positive neurotransmitters like serotonin which helps the human body to stay calm and relaxed. Studies have shown that the people who practice hatha yoga are less associated with medical conditions like depression, anxiety, or PTSD.
  • Improves physical flexibility: Since the practice of hatha yoga involves the constant movement of the human body, it eventually helps in improving the flexibility of the people thus helping in enhancing the body postures. It helps with the spine and hamstring flexibility. Thus, it is specifically very helpful for older people to keep their joints smooth and moving.
  • Better quality of sleep: Research has found out that yoga has a very good response to the quality of sleep a person experiences. Not only it helps people to sleep faster but also helps them significantly with the quality of their sleep. According to the studies, people doing yoga require fewer sleeping aids.
  • Mindfulness: Hatha yoga has proved in helping people to have a motivated and optimistic outlook towards their life. They enjoy participating in various activities and are surrounded by cheerful vibes all day long. It encourages them to eat healthier food and practice yoga with the same zeal each and every day.
  • Lowers the amount of stress: It was found that people doing hatha yoga are able to keep their blood pressures at normal levels even in a distressful situation as compared to the people who are not involved in yoga. They also feel more confident towards the difficult circumstances and trust their decisions in such situations.
  • Increase core strength: While doing Hatha Yoga, our core strength increases due to the modulation in breathing exercises and various stretching exercises. This in turn helps people with their balance.
  • Helps in the reduction of neck and back pain: The help that hatha yoga provides in reducing back and neck pain is associated with how our body reacts to all the stretching that is done during yoga. When you stretch and breathe properly, it strengthens your core which helps in decreasing the pain in your neck and back. It helps to improve posture by correcting the spinal imbalance.
  • Menopause: When a woman is in her 50s, she goes through menopause. The side effects of this biological change are troubles related to sleep, emotional or mental health and weight, etc. A woman faces hot flashes, night sweats, and chills. Hatha Yoga is entrusted with relieving these side effects.
  • Multiple sclerosis: Studies have shown that people having resistant body tissues experience extra mood swings and fatigue. Hatha Yoga has some short-term benefits in this area and is thus recommended to people suffering from sclerosis.

While Hatha Yoga has many benefits, it is not that easy to practice it. To understand the deeper concept of Hatha Yoga, you should be well versed with the below-mentioned points.

6 keys to ace Hatha Yoga

Hatha yoga boosts flexibility

  1. Enthusiasm: Enthusiasm means positive energy to do something. It is related to constant inspiration and motivation that is required to practice yoga every day. It does not mean that one has to wake up early but the deeper meaning of this key lies within the question, “why do you want to practice?” Knowing the answer to this question should be able to light a flame inside yourself so that you stay motivated and consistent.
  2. Courage: Courage means being brave and strong. All of us have a fear of something or the other, for eg, lizards, heights, flying, horror movies, or even sitting alone and talking to ourselves. This is the part where you have to fight your fear and instill in yourself the power of yoga. You should try to stand against the demons inside you which takes a lot of courage. Enduring your ego and being able to question yourself requires courage. Only when you will be able to face the things you are scared of, will you have control over yourself.
  3. Perseverance: Practicing that one asana or posture that you have been working on for a long while now but still cannot do correctly can be demotivating. But have you heard the phrase, “practice makes a man perfect”? By letting go of the end result and focusing on the bigger picture, you will be able to ignore the resistance and be open to exploring.
  4. Discrimination: Self Realization is the ultimate purpose of Hatha Yoga. It is this purpose that helps us to make better choices in different walks of our lives. Your mind might want you to eat the cake or drink a glass of wine but knowing how it will affect your health, you may want to reconsider that thought. Constantly discriminating in the best choices that you can make will push you to make healthier choices for your own benefit.
  5. Unshakeable faith: Faith means having trust and confidence. Having faith and confidence in yourself, your teacher, and knowing that you will be able to do what you wish to do is such an underrated requirement for success. Keep faith in yourself and nobody can stop you from achieving what you aspire to.
  6. Avoiding the company of common people: Avoiding the company of common people means staying away from the people who negatively affect your personal and mental growth. If these people stop you from becoming the best versions of yourselves, you should try to stay away from their company.

Now that you’ve understood the key factors that can help you in learning Hatha Yoga more efficiently, let us dive right into what a typical Hatha Yoga class looks like.

What to expect in a Hatha Yoga Class

Hatha yoga classes and techniques

The Hatha Yoga session can take anywhere from 60 minutes to 90 minutes. Just an everyday practice for 15 minutes can also benefit you if you do it with full dedication and motivation. Hatha Yoga is beginner-friendly yoga. Though it is mild and gentle, it can be very challenging physically and mentally. The classes begin with a little warm-up, moving towards advanced physical postures, and end with a short period of meditation. Typically, a Hatha Yoga session can be broken down into 3 parts:

  1. Breathing: Hatha Yoga begins with ‘Pranayama’, i.e., focusing on the modulation of breathing. As you go through the variety of asanas, the teacher will guide you on how to make breathing the focus of all the exercises you are doing. They will introduce different exercises that will circle back to having to breathe as the focal point.
  2. Poses: These poses or asanas generally focus on improving your core strength, flexibility, and your balance. The pose ranges from being as easy as lying flat on the stomach to other advanced and difficult poses like headstands. The rate of advancement in such exercises depends upon how tough your body is and how long have you been doing yoga.
  3. Meditation: Most Hatha Yoga classes end with a short meditation session. This is a period of reflection and helps in bringing the body at calm and ease. You may be asked to lie on your back for around 5-10 minutes and relax.

In a traditional Hatha Yoga class, to end the class, participants usually hold their hands together in the form of prayer over their hearts and bow, saying Namaste to each other.

In all, Hatha Yoga can be entrusted with keeping you motivated and confident. It will help in keeping your mind at ease and will help in making better decisions in your life. It will provide you with an opportunity to look inside yourself and activate the energy that is stored inside you.

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