Hatha yoga is the perfect practice of building strength and flexibility with many different aspects of yoga blended to create the ultimate balance.
What Does The Word Hatha Mean?
To get a better understanding of this mixture of techniques for yoga, you should be aware of what Hatha means. This word is translated as ha which means “sun” and tha which means “moon.” The combination of the opposites such as masculine with heat (sun) and feminine with coolness (moon) resonates in all of us. Therefore, Hatha yoga is a method of creating balance, aligning the opposites and development of flexibility and strength.
The Eight Limbs Practiced in Hatha Yoga.
There are eight limbs of the practice of yoga which is believed to have been collated into the practice called the Yoga Sutra about 2,000 years ago by the Indian sage Patanjali. The eight limbs are yamas (restraints), niyamas (observances), asana (postures), pranayama (breathing), pratyahara (withdrawal of senses), dharana (concentration), dhyani (meditation), and samadhi (absorption).
As we explore these eight limbs, we begin by refining our behavior with our interaction and interpretation of the outer world, and then we focus inwardly on ourselves until we reach samadhi (liberation, enlightenment).
Let’s further go into depth on the eight limbs of yoga so that we can better understand how the entire Hatha process works
Yama: Universal morality
The yamas are broken down into five “wise characteristics” that have been practiced for centuries. These characteristics reveal our fundamental nature which is compassionate, generous, honest and peaceful.” They are as follows:
Satya – Commitment to Truthfulness
Satya means “to speak the truth,” yet it is not always desirable to speak the truth on all occasions, for it could harm someone unnecessarily. We have to consider what we say, how we say it, and in what way it could affect others. If speaking the truth has negative consequences for another, then it is better to say nothing. Satya should never come into conflict with our efforts to behave with ahimsa.
Ahimsa – Compassion for all living things
The word ahimsa literally mean not to injure or show cruelty to any creature or any person in any way whatsoever. Ahimsa is, however, more than just lack of violence as adapted in yoga. It means kindness, friendliness, and thoughtful consideration of other people and things.
Aparigraha – Neutralizing the desire to acquire and hoard wealth
Aparigraha means to take only what is necessary, and not to take advantage of a situation or act greedy. We should only take what we have earned; if we take more, we are exploiting someone else.
Brahmacharya – Sense control
Brahmacharya is used mostly in the sense of abstinence, particularly in relationship to sexual activity. Brahmacharya suggests that we should form relationships that foster our understanding of the highest truths. Brahmacharya does not necessarily imply celibacy. Rather, it means responsible behavior with respect to our goal of moving toward the truth.
Asteya – Non-stealing
Steya means “to steal”; asteya is the opposite-to take nothing that does not belong to us. This also means that if we are in a situation where someone entrusts something to us or confides in us, we do not take advantage of him or her. Non-stealing includes not only taking what belongs to another without permission, but also using something for a different purpose to that intended, or beyond the time permitted by its owner.
Niyama : Personal observances
The Niyama of Hatha yoga is also broken down into smaller branches. These smaller branches are:
Saucha – cleanliness
This applies to cleanliness on the outside as well as the inside. Eating healthy foods and drinking lots of water helps clean toxins and harmful waste products from our bodies. Cleaning the outside of our body rides our skin of dirt and impurities. What about mental cleanliness? Yes, we should also clean our minds by riding ourselves of anxiety, worry, anger, sadness, violence and any other negative emotions that can hinder us on our yoga journey.
Santosha – contentment
Being content should not be a difficult thing yet for many of us it is so very hard to achieve true contentment. Forget your worries, set aside your cares, leave anguish and strife behind. Be happy in the moments you have and live for the present. This will help you achieve real contentment.
Tapas – heat or austerity!
From the practice of Hatha yoga we can achieve a burning fire to better ourselves and achieve heights in our lives that we have not experienced before. The desire and passion within builds motivation which is the heat or Tapas of yoga. Eliminate negative addictions and mind-set. Be the best person that you can be.
Svadhyaya – Study of oneself
Know thyself! This is a wisdom of the centuries. Once we come to truly know ourselves we will be better able to take care of what our bodies and our minds need to achieve for growth and vitality. Once we become more aware and see our faulty side which we all possess, we will be able to become a more positive and spiritual person.
Ishvara – Pranidhara – surrender to God
Get in touch with your spiritual self. Your soul. Put yourself in the will of God. Open your mind to the truths and the path that you are supposed to lead. Learn to develop patience and self-control in this state of Hatha yoga.
The Next Purifying Aspects of Hatha Yoga Are:
Asanas : Body postures
Pranayama : Breathing exercises, and control of prana
Pratyahara : Control of the senses
Dharana : Concentration and cultivating inner perceptual awareness
Dhyana : Devotion, Meditation on the Divine
Samadhi : Union with the Divine