The Practice Of Hatha Yoga In The Modern World
Hatha Yoga Video Tutorial - 1. Introduction
The modern world has embraced the practice of Yoga as a form of lifestyle and self-improvement. Yogic practiced took root in India and was slowly adapted to various beliefs, like Hinduism and Buddishm, until it made its way to the West -- and one of them is Hatha Yoga.
What Is Hatha Yoga?
Hatha Yoga is practically the most popular forms of yogic practice in the Western world, which is possibly due to the fast-paced lifestyle -- along with the stress that comes with it -- that is quite common today.
Hatha is a Sanskirt word which means "to force" or "forcefully". Breaking down the word results to "ha" the sun, and "tha" the moon. Experts found out that the "sun" and "moon" is a symbolic representation of the latent energies in the human body, similar to Yin and Yang prevalent in Eastern belief system.
According to Yogic experts, the human body is composed of two energy channels, the solar and lunar channels. These are two opposing energies, like fire and water, or hot and cold. Hatha Yoga incorporates a practice to discipline one's body to unite or forcefully combines these two opposing forces to achieve a higher state of mind.
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Hatha Yoga Flow 3 - 42 minutes
The Story behind Hatha Yoga
As with any belief, there is always a story behind how it came to be -- same with Hatha Yoga. It all started when Lord Shiva is left alone in a deserted island and shared his knowledge of Hatha to the Goddess Parvati. A fish overheard the conversation and learned the practice without Lord Shiva's permission. When found out, Lord Shiva forgave the fish and turned him into a man so that he can share what he learned to the rest of the world.
Hatha Yoga Philosophy
The philosophy of Hatha Yoga found in ancient yogic texts defines the human body to be composed of a system made of essential components to help man achieve a supreme state. These are:
- Chakra (the body's center of energy)
- Pranayama (breathing or subtle energy control)
- Physical force (Bandhas)
- Sacred/Spirit force (Shakti)
- Energy Channels (Nadis)
- Kundalini (latent instinct - enlightenment)
These components are utilized through the following means and practices:
- Pranayama (Breathing exercise, energy control)
- Asana (posture)
- Mudras (gestures)
- Kundalini techniques (Kriyas)
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The practice of Hatha Yoga is defined through assorted postures called Asanas. These postures help discipline the human mind and body to let go of physical sensation or predominant senses to achieve oneness. Yogic experts all agree that man is a hodgepodge of sensations that can be easily defined as obstacles that places limitations for improvement. The teachings of Hatha Yoga aim to eliminate these obstacles, training both the mind and body to achieve an enlightened state.
Ancient Yogic texts depict Hatha Yoga as a basic initiation for the higher paths. There are four stages of Yogic practice -- the Hatha that deals with the physical body; Raja that focus on the mind through meditation; Jnana for wisdom or knowledge; and the Bhakti or devotion.
Modern Yogic sages define Hatha Yoga as an initiation phase for higher forms of enlightenment. The philosophy of Hatha involves a stringent exercise of both breathing and posture for a practitioner to take full control of his body and prepare his mind for the next step -- which is meditation.
Man always has the potential to achieve enlightenment through the union of opposing forces in his or her body. However, modern lifestyle has made it impossible for man to improve his or her constitution -- obstacles that get in the way of our health and self-improvement. Hatha aims to help man overcome these obstacles through discipline.
Also, in order for a Yogic practitioner to reach the next path; one must utilize Hatha as a means to strengthen one's body -- both physically and in disciple. The various postures prepare the body for intense meditation that is a common exercise in Raja Yoga. The relaxed state that your body will be constantly subjected to during Hatha can help promote a quite transition to mental exercise.
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The Requirements of Hatha
Anyone can utilize Hatha Yoga for improvement; however, not all may be able to take part in its various exercises. Though there is no limitation or boundary as to who can initiate their Yogic practice; it is necessary for the body to be in the right form in order to proceed.
For example, a person who has breathing problems might not do well with Pranayama or breathing exercises. People who have asthma or airways clogged with phlegm might not get the exercise right. Also, the various postures require the body to be flexible so having too big a belly might not get you into a good start.
However, these are mere obstacles than a permanent road block that can stop you from integrating the Hatha Yoga lifestyle. Those who have breathing problems might want to concentrate more on getting their health better before enrolling in a class. Also, dieting or weight loss program along with the practice of Yoga might be best to get you to adapt easily to its postures over time.
Hatha Yoga Flow 4
The Practice of Yoga In The Modern World
Today, Hatha Yoga is practice more as self-improvement and healing. Experts were able to devise their own methods to utilize Hatha philosophy to strengthen the physical body to fight off stress and diseases; aids and improves a woman's constitution for pregnancy; weight loss; fitness, and more.
There has been a debate as to why modern societies stay in Hatha Yoga than branching out to other paths for a better life. The answer to this question lies with man's current needs -- physical necessities for a better lifestyle. Hatha Yoga can help a person relax and learn to focus more on what he wants to do; utilize the posture of Hatha to increase the body's physical constitution; achieve physical enlightenment and disregard of materialistic needs for self-improvement, and the likes.
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