I just had to come back and give some more detail/information on Hatha Yoga. Couldn't just throw it out there and not break it down, so I'm providing you with some answers to questions that you may have wondered while reading my last post. I just gotta go deep. That's just me.
Hatha Yoga is the most widely practiced form of yoga in America. It is the branch of yoga that concentrates on physical health and mental well-being. Hatha yoga uses bodily postures (asanas), breathing techniques (pranayama), and meditation (dyana) with the goal of bringing about a sound, healthy body and a clear, peaceful mind. There are nearly 200 hatha yoga postures, with hundreds of variations, which work to make the spine supple and to promote circulation in all the organs, glands, and tissues. Hatha yoga postures also stretch and align the body, promoting balance and flexibility.
Hatha has been around since 15th century India when a yogic sage, Swami Swatamarama, detailed Hatha Yoga Pradipika, one of the most important yoga texts. The original intent of this form of yoga was to help support relaxation of the body and to support the "contemplation of one reality." Many of the classic Hatha yoga poses that were used at its inception, in fact, are still in use with it today. According to those first practitioners of Hatha, the postures can lead to the best in not only physical well being, but also the best state of mind you can possibly attain.
Yoga was developed in ancient India as far back as 5,000 years ago; sculptures detailing yoga positions have been found in India which date back to 3000 B.C. Yoga is derived from a Sanskrit word which means "union." The goal of classical yoga to bring self-transcendence, or enlightenment, through physical, mental, and spiritual health. Many people in the West mistakenly believe yoga to be a religion, but its teachers point out that it is a system of living designed to promote health, peace of mind, and deeper awareness of ourselves. There are several branches of yoga, each of which is a different path and philosophy toward self-improvement. Some of these paths include service to others, pursuit of wisdom, nonviolence, devotion to God, and observance of spiritual rituals. Hatha yoga is the path which has physical health and balance as a primary goal, for its practitioners believe that greater mental and spiritual awareness can be brought about with a healthy and pure body.
The origins of hatha yoga have been traced back to the eleventh century A.D. The Sanskrit word ha means "sun" and tha means "moon," and thus hatha, or literally sun-moon yoga, strives to balance opposing parts of the physical body, the front and back, left and right, top and bottom.
The original philosophers of yoga developed it as an eight-fold path to complete health. These eight steps include moral and ethical considerations (such as honesty, non-aggression, peacefulness, non-stealing, generosity, and sexual propriety), self-discipline (including purity, simplicity, devotion to God, and self-knowledge), posture, breath control, control of desires, concentration, meditation, and happiness. According to yogis, if these steps are followed diligently, a person can reach high levels of health and mental awareness.
As it has subsequently developed, hatha yoga has concentrated mainly on two of the eight paths, breathing and posture. Yogis believe breathing to be the most important metabolic function; we breathe roughly 23,000 times per day and use about 4,500 gallons of air, which
increases during exercise. Thus, breathing is extremely important to health, and prana, or life-force, is found most abundantly in the air and in the breath. If we are breathing incorrectly, we are hampering our potential for optimal health. Pranayama, literally the "science of breathing" or "control of life force," is the yogic practice of breathing correctly and deeply.
In addition to breathing, hatha yoga utilizes asanas, or physical postures, to bring about flexibility, balance and strength in the body. Each of these postures has a definite form and precise steps for achieving the desired position and for exiting it. These postures, yogis maintain, have been scientifically developed to increase circulation and health in all parts of the body, from the muscular tissues to the glands and internal organs. Yogis claim that although hatha yoga can make the body as strong and fit as any exercise program, its real benefits come about because it is a system of maintenance and balance for the whole body.
Credits for this info.:
Author Info: Douglas Dupler, Teresa G. Odle, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit, Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine, 2005
Published: 7/25/2006 Rebecca has a diploma in Shiatsu and Computer Programming. She runs two websites www.vitaminstohealth.com and www.acnetohealth.com. and has studied various aspects of herbal medicine.
Peace and Blessings, Beautiful!