It seems like everywhere you turn, you see something about yoga. From sitcoms to car commercials, and even a beer commercial! We have yoga clothes, footwear, and “essentials” like yoga mat carrying cases and props. Is yoga’s incredible resurgence of interest a reflection of west meeting east, or are the baby boomers trying yet another trend to slow the pace of the inevitable aging process? There are those who will jump aboard any bandwagon trend, but anyone who really knows yoga will tell you it’s no trend. Yoga has been around for thousands of years for one simple reason: yoga works.
The kind of yoga commonly practiced is hatha yoga, the physical yoga. “Yoga” is Sanskrit for “yuj,” meaning “union,” “yoke,” or “to unite.” The syllable “Ha” represents the sun, and the syllable “tha” represents the moon. In essence, “hatha yoga” means “union of the Sun and the Moon,” or the union of right and left; of masculine and feminine energy; and of yin and yang—the merging and balancing of opposites. Hatha yoga was created to perfect the outer-self, the body, so as to perfect the inner-self, the spirit. Yoga has been compared to a ladder of self-development, and hatha yoga is the first rung upon this ladder.
Hatha Yoga unites the body with the mind and the spirit by using the breath, called prana, in a specific way called pranayama, or diaphragmatic breathing. This focuses on the center of the body, the solar plexus, much like in martial arts. Hatha yoga combines deep breathwork with deep stretching postures or positions called asanas. These positions have thousands of variations and together they express the full potential and the amazing capacity of human movement.
Regular practice of hatha yoga produces innumerable life-long benefits such as clearing the mind, calming the spirit, and promoting deep relaxation. It increases lung capacity; balances blood pressure; increases circulation, flexibility, range of motion and balance; enhances digestion, elimination, posture and spinal alignment; expands and maintains the range of motion and movement of the joints and ligaments, and tones and elongates muscles. Hatha yoga helps to reduce stress, anxiety and depression, and is used to treat ailments from arthritis and chronic fatigue syndrome to attention deficit disorder. Hatha yoga is often combined with massage, physical therapy, and rehabilitation. It helps to balance the entire body, mind, and spirit, and because of this, it can help with weight loss, or with weight gain, depending on the person. Hatha yoga helps to balance all of the body’s systems, including the energy system, by fine tuning the chakras and cleansing the auric energy field. Overall, it strengthens the entire body and encourages a deep sense of mental and spiritual well-being.
Hatha yoga can help you to become vibrant, remain vibrant, and to live longer!
In the world of physical fitness, hatha yoga is a gentle, more feminine approach to creating health and wellness. Hatha yoga is all about balance—balancing the masculine strengths of the Piscean era with the gentle feminine energies of the Aquarian era. I think that people have reached a point where we want balance and peace between our inner selves and our outer lives, and hatha yoga provides both. Hatha yoga can help you become more comfortable in your own skin. It may not necessarily give you a “perfect” body, but it will help you become perfectly happy with the one you’ve got. When you feel happier with yourself—just as you are—you instinctively take better care of yourself. You feel a desire to be healthy and strong (not skinny!) The practice of hatha yoga teaches the essence of slowing down, and the importance of each breath. There’s a saying that the body is the vehicle, driven by the mind and fueled by the breath; its destination is spirit. So it is with hatha yoga.