Stress seems to be an inevitable part of life. Whether it’s work, finances or relationships, many stress factors play into our overall health that we may not realize.
Hatha yoga works with opposing forces, internally and externally, to bring clarity to both the mind and body, providing that perfect, unstressed harmony to the body.
“In our culture we tend to think of very energetic and very relaxed as opposing sensations, but in Hatha, we want you to leave that class feeling very alert and very relaxed simultaneously,” said Marcia Miller, an experienced instructor at Yoga on High.
Here you can learn the foundation of yoga and postures for all different types of practices. Classes tend to be gentler because continuous movement isn’t the goal.
Asanas, or postures, are sequenced to help total-body alliance in order to open the spine and allow for free-flowing energy. The focus is on finding one posture you can hold comfortably, sometimes allowing for deeper meditation.
The poses are often held longer in Hatha than in other systems, allowing for that deeper continued alignment.
“I think the alignment is important for ongoing health of anyone doing yoga, but alignment is not just physical, although that is very important,” Miller said.
Through holding and sustaining a pose, you can heal and protect some of the joints to prevent injury.
Sustaining a pose long enough can also lead to greater energy in the flow as you open up, or prana, meaning life force energy. Holding each pose allows for the prana to flow through the entire body, opening up each channel.
Through that practice, you can open up the tissues of the body in a variety of ways by staying in the same shape for an extended period of time, which is the primary focus of Hatha. The body will acclimate to that shape, and the surrounding muscles that are tight tend to loosen up. It’s similar to why some yoga classes are done in a heated room, to warm up the muscles, but Hatha is a calmer method.
“Ha,” meaning sun, and “tha,” meaning moon, gives us a better idea of the different aspects of ourselves we must bring together to create balance.
“If yoga’s done well it is very much powerful and not at all forceful. It’s very respectful of where the person is,” Miller said. “You want the students, I want myself, to be fully present. I’m not looking for distractions. I want to dive into my whole experience of body and mind.”
Each instructor will differ on the focus of her class. Some may encourage physical awareness, while others may focus on the breath or the energetic flow. Hatha yoga offers great beginner classes to learn each of the poses, which can help you decide which practice will be best for you.
Many studios offer Hatha. Check the following to see which one matches up best to what you want out of your practice:
Center for Wholeness
PAI Yoga Fitness
Yoga on High