Hatha means Yoga of the body. Therefore all Yoga involving the body is Hatha Yoga. Hatha is a very general term that can encompass many of the physical types of Yoga. If a class is described as Hatha style, it is probably going to be slow-paced and gentle, and can provide a good introduction to the basic Yoga poses.
Yoga practice consists of five key elements: proper breathing, proper exercise, proper relaxation, proper diet, and positive thinking and meditation. The part of yoga familiar to us in the West focuses on the exercises, or asanas, designed to ease tense muscles, to tone up the internal organs, and to improve the flexibility of the body’s joints and ligaments. This is called Hatha Yoga.
The Asanas (exercises): Yoga exercises focus first on the health of the spine, it’s strength and flexibility. The spinal column houses the spinal cord, the main nerve cable of the body. By maintaining the spine’s flexibility and strength through exercise, circulation is increased and the nerves are ensured their supply of nutrients and oxygen.
Asanas work on the internal machinery of the body, the glands and organs, as well as the muscles. They affect the deeper and more subtle parts of the body. The internal organs receive massage and stimulation through the various movements of the asanas, and are toned into more efficient functioning. The endocrine system (glands and hormones) is rejuvenated, helping to balance the emotions and improve mental outlook on life.
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