MOVEMENT AND BREATH
What is Hatha Yoga?
Hatha yoga is a category that includes most styles of yoga. Over time, many schools have come to be that teach their own sequences and combinations of asana, pranayama, mudra and mantra, to aid in the cultivation of peace in the mind and body. Ultimately, these elements are used in combination to prepare the body for deeper spiritual work of meditation.
‘Ha’ symbolizes heat, the sun, the masculine, and the Pingala nadi of the parasympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) and ‘tha’ represents coolness, the moon, the feminine, and the Ida nadi of the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest.) Each of the nadis represent a half of the central energy channel called, Sushumna nadi, which runs through the central axis of the body. When properly aligned and free of obstructions, prana (life force) flows with ease throughout Sushumna resulting in stillness of the mind. Conversely, when misaligned due to the presence of impurities, prana cannot flow freely. A fundamental aim of Hatha yoga is to balance these nadis and to channel energy within the body.
Our soul is akin to the sun as it is brightness never wavers whereas our mind is more like the moon, with is phases and fluctuations. Our Swami at One Yoga put it very succinctly: “The basic principle of hatha yoga is harmonization of this dual energy which governs the functioning of the physical body and its organs, our mental activities, reactions and moods. We seek to unite the body with the soul and the soul with the universe.”
In any given hatha practice you can expect to find physical postures, and breathing techniques held for as little as 30 seconds to several minutes. Staying longer in each posture gives the body time to settle into the posture to get the most out of the cleansing effects of each while giving the mind a chance to slow down and move inward.