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Hatha Yoga is the most practiced form of yoga in the Western World. Its appeal is that it helps maintain good physical health, while carrying the traditional benefits of other yoga practices. Although Hatha Yoga is a very different form of exercise, it is now garnering the attention and support of doctors and health practitioners from all over the modern world.
Hatha Yoga is practiced by close to nine percent (9%) of all Americans, according to a 2012 survey by Harris Interactive for Yoga Journal. Yoga practitioners report improved energy levels, sleep, muscle tone, circulation, and pain relief, among other health benefits.
What is Hatha Yoga?
The ultimate purpose of Hatha Yoga is to integrate and enliven the deep connection between the body and mind, as it fuses exercise together with focused mental energy. It combines deliberate poses and controlled breathing. Poses vary in their level of difficulty. Proper breathing helps people transition from one pose to another.
In general, hatha yoga is one of the simpler forms of yoga and is where many practitioners begin. What many people commonly designate as yoga is actually hatha yoga, more specifically.
History of Hatha Yoga
Although yoga is over 3,000 years old, Hatha Yoga only had its beginnings about 600 years ago, and only made its way into the Western World in the last 100 years. Hollywood opened the first American Hatha Yoga institute in 1947. The 1960’s saw significant rise in its popularity, and many variations of Hatha Yoga have since taken off.
Philosophy Behind Hatha Yoga
In the Western World, yoga is generally practiced for its immediate health benefits. But underneath traditional yoga practice is a much deeper philosophical underpinning that finds its origin in very Eastern ways of thinking.
In the East, there is a more conscious connection between the soul of an individual and the larger world– a connection that yoga seeks to harmonize. The poses and breathing patterns of Hatha Yoga bring the opposing forces of the body into a deeper unity, resulting in a person being better able to control their life force and gain mental clarity.
The ideal outcome of this mental and physical harmony is a condition of maximum health, which then leads to graduated yoga practices.
Benefits of Hatha Yoga
Doctors and health practitioners are seeing the enormous health benefits of Hatha Yoga, while still upholding the value of traditional medicine.
Hatha Yoga greatly eliminates stress, produces greater balance and flexibility, and reduces injuries, all while building both inner and outer strength. It is capable of combating many diseases, doing wonders for both the body and the mind.
Recommending Hatha Yoga
Hatha Yoga is a good first step into the larger array of yoga exercises. By combining mental focus, simple breathing exercises, and elementary postures, Hatha Yoga is something of a foundation for people eager to explore the possibilities of alternative health practices.
For these reasons, Hatha Yoga has taken off in the Western World and has introduced yoga to people who may never have thought of it before.
Like what you’ve read? For more tips and tricks on yoga, the yoga lifestyle, and more on healthy living and wellness, read our Yoga Life Magazine today.