Many beginners start with Hatha Yoga as it is a perfect way to properly learn the postures and breathing techniques which make up a large part of Yoga as we know it in the west.
The word hatha means sun and moon. “Ha” meaning sun and “tha” meaning moon. It is yoga which brings together opposites and the pairs of opposites. The sanskrit word “Hatha” means violence or force, and it is often called the “forceful yoga” as asanas require a lot of physical effort, particularly when trying to achieve mastery of a pose.
The term hatha yoga is the one most commonly recognised in the west and the one most associated with Yoga. Numerous schools of Hatha Yoga derive from teachings of Sri T Krishnamacharya, who dedicated his life to the art of Yoga.
From a spiritual perspective, Hatha yoga’s main focus is on perfecting the third and fourth limbs of the eight limbs of Astanga Yoga, namely asanas and pranayama, in order to move forward to Antaranga-Sadhana. This in turn allows one to move through on to and through the remaining four limbs of Yoga on the path to enlightenment.
When practising asanas in Hatha Yoga, the two main purposes are exercising the mind and body by the physical effort of the asanas and mastering of a pose. This therefore leads to a greater ability to properly practise meditation, which ultimately leads to even deeper meditation and mental detachment.
Many people love this focused, unhurried environment with the emphasis on mastering a pose, which increases ones ability to concentrate and enormously strengthens the power of the will. This combination ultimately enables one to achieve the mental detachment ot Pratyhara, which is the next limb on the path to Samadhi, the eighth and final limb of Astanga Yoga.
It is almost incomprehensible to think that Hatha Yoga is a system of Yoga which originated in the 15th century. It was made known by a Hindu sage called Yogi Swatmarama who went on to compile the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, a collection of sanskrit texts along with his own yogic experiences practising Hatha Yoga.