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Hatha Yoga

Hatha Yoga

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What does Hatha mean?

Hatha is an ancient Sanskrit word that can be broken down into two smaller words: ha, meaning “sun,” and tha, meaning “moon.” The word may also mean “willful”.  So Hatha Yoga is a practice to bring equilibrium to the body and mind.

Hatha yoga is based on the ancient principles that a strong and healthy body is needed on the journey of life. The experience of practice is concentration, breath, stamina, flexibility, aligning and strengthening the body, quieting the mind and awakening the spirit.  Hatha Yoga is wonderful style of yoga that is taught at a slow pace and excellent for beginners and all abilities of yoga practices.

Hatha Yoga is taught in a clear and precise manner and through a mindful approach.  It combines the principles of physical posture known in ancient Sanskrit as “asana” which means the seat of where Spirit resides with many other principles. So, the journey of each yoga asana creates a place of there the mind can rest in stillness, clarity and peace.  Therefore, it is not merely a physical workout but encompasses a holistic healing approach for all the body, mind, heart and spirit and energy body.

 

History of Hatha Yoga

Classical Hatha yoga has been around since the 11th century according to ancient sacred texts that have been studied. The ancient text of the Hatha Yoga Pradīpika circa 15th century outlines many aspects to this ancient practice as being based on the physical aspects while the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali outline how yoga is performed more from the aspect of Yoga of the Mind.  These two ancient texts display a lot of similarities and polarities with a lot debate.  

In the ancient text of Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the aspects of yoga practice known as the 8 limbs of yoga are:

  • Yama (attitudes toward our environment)
  • Niyama (attitudes toward ourselves)
  • Asana (physical postures)
  • Pranayama (breathing practices)
  • Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses)
  • Dharana (concentration)
  • Dhyana (meditation)
  • Samadhi (complete inner peace)

When we practice yoga, these above philosophies indirectly interweave themselves through the practice.  

When we are new to yoga, we learn about ourselves through how the body moves by way of the physical aspects or movements.  In time, through regular practice, the rest will organically be explored through yoga classes as you become more experienced.  Nowadays these and other ancient sacred mindful texts and practices have been translated into more modern approach through mindfulness practices such as Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction but to name a few and other forms of yoga practices.

“In the Western culture, Hatha yoga is typically understood as asanas and it can be practiced as such.  In the Indian and Tibetan traditions, Hatha yoga is much more.  It extends well beyond being a sophisticated physical exercise system and integrates ideas of ethics, diet, cleansing, pranayama (breathing exercises), meditation and a system for spiritual development of the yogi”(Ref: Hatha Yoga Wikipedia)

Other types of Yoga are based on the classical form of Hatha Yoga such as Ashtanga Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Bikram Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, Jivamukti Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Kripalu Yoga, Kriya Yoga, Sivananda Yoga and Viniyoga.

 

Hatha Yoga Classes at Yoga Essence

All of our classes are based on the classical and holistic form of Hatha Yoga with varying levels of experience and student preference.

Each student is encouraged to move at their own pace and comfort.  Every asana or yoga posture is taught with safety in mind and with a nurturing approach. We encourage practitioners to develop their own kinaesthetic awareness of what feels right in their own body and being led by this experience as opposed always a teacher-led experience.  We offer the student the space and guidance in our classes but it is ultimately the student’s journey of what feels right in their body.

Our classes will include a demonstration of each pose, teaching correct body alignment along with learning to sense their own alignment in the movements, building strength & flexibility while also centring the mind in the breath rooting in the present moment.  

The yoga Sutra by Pantanjali: ‘Yoga chitta vritti nirodah’ – ‘yoga is the settling of the mind into silence’ is central with mindfulness through movement through focusing on the breath while being quietly with ourselves soothing the busy mind and bringing us to the moment. 

Pranayama (breathing practices) are explored along with Meditation and Yogic Philosophy. 

Classes end with a deep guided relaxation (Yoga Nidra, known as Yoga Sleep) to send you home grounded and restored.

Yoga classes include a strong therapeutic approach enabling those with injuries or medical issues to enjoy a regular yoga practice. All students are very much encouraged to progress at their own pace.  Hatha yoga is suitable for everyone whatever your flexibility or fitness level is and is also suitable for all ages and abilities.  There is always a class for you!

With gratitude

Sonya Harnett

 

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