If you've to roll out a mat and give yoga a try, this simple beginner's guide to Hatha Yoga will give you a bit of an insight. There are many different kinds of yoga - some are more physical than others. Hatha yoga is the yoga that is most commonly practiced around the word and is best for beginners as it's usually slower paced. We've got everything you need to know in our Beginner's Guide to Hatha Yoga below...
What is Yoga?
"Yoga is not about touching your toes, it is what you learn on the way down" - Jigar Gor
Yoga is in its essence a spiritual discipline which aims to bring harmony between both mind and body. It is a holistic art and way of life, a way of healthy and wholesome living. The word ‘yoga’ is derived from the Sanskrit root ‘Yuj’ meaning ‘to join’ or ‘to unite’.
Yoga is suitable for absolutely everyone (and can be practiced anywhere from your bedroom to a yoga studio!). It has tons of health benefits too from flexibility and strengthening your body to balance, relieving stress and anxiety and may even help you sleep better.
A Beginner's Guide to Hatha Yoga
Hatha Yoga is one of the most popular styles of yoga in the Western world. Hatha (‘force’ in Sanskrit) yoga is considered a gentle yoga that focuses on static poses and is great for beginners. However, though it is gentle, it can still be physically and mentally challenging.
Classical Hatha yoga was developed in the 15th century and included guidance for the proper setting of yoga, asanas, pranayama (or breathing exercises), mudras (or hand gestures), and meditation for personal spiritual growth.
Hatha Yoga Techniques
Today, Hatha yoga features three main techniques - Pranayama, Asanas and Meditation. Let’s look at these in more detail.
Breathing, or Pranayama consists of developing awareness of one’s breathing followed by purposeful regulation of respiration as the basis of existence. It helps in developing awareness of, and to establish control over, the mind.
Poses, or asanas, are a series of movements that help improve balance, flexibility, and strength. There are many different asanas, and even several variations of the main postures. Specific asanas are thought to provide different additional benefits.
The final core technique of Hatha yoga is meditation. The Hatha yoga pradipika text dedicates almost a third of its verses to meditation, were it is seen as the ultimate goal of all the prior techniques. The aim of this meditation is to realise the complete absorption and union with the Brahman, also known as Nada-Brahman. The Vedas conceptualize Brahman as the Cosmic Principle, and it is also known as the highest Universal Principle.
The great things about yoga is you can do it anywhere whether it's on your living room floor with a Youtube video or in a yoga specific class all around the country. Once you've familiarised yourself with the poses and techniques, you can practice it at home whenever you have a spare few minutes. The benefits are endless.
Checked and updated: 4 August 2021