An Introduction to Hatha Yoga

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Hatha yoga has one of the longest histories among the other yoga methodologies. The ancient textual reference states that the Hatha yoga technics were invented around 1100 A.D. by Hindi yogi, Gorakhnath in India. However, some of its techniques are 1000 years older. Hatha is a Sanskritists word which has meanings of “strong” or “force”. “Ha” means the sun (light) and “Tha” means moon (shade). Also, the word “yoga has a meaning that connecting two factors. That means Hatha yoga was invented as an easy way for normal people to link two opposite factors such as mind and body to maintain the balance. Thus, Gorakhnath introduced physical postures/movements called asana and breathing techniques called pranayama as a core of Hatha yoga instead of meditation which is usually difficult for normal people to carry out. According to the scripture of Hatha yoga called Yoga Sutras, the asana is simply defined as “comfortable and stable posture” In other words, the asana is a stable posture which allows us to exercise with moderate force while the body is relaxing. The pranayama leads us to this ideal circumstance. Proper asana cannot exist without the pranayama. Therefore, asana can be defined as a pranayama with movements.

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There’s no correct method or pose for asana because most of the poses exiting today were acquaintances of teachers that were received by their pupils. On the other hand, pranayama is deeply defined in the scripture. Pranayama means inhaling “prana” into the body. The word “prana” stands for the energy which is filled with anywhere in the universe. It is a motive power of all activities, all creation, all protection, and all destruction. Energy, vigor, life, and spirit are considered as a part of prana. By carrying out the right pranayama, the mind and body are fully filled with the energy of life and unnecessary matters in the body can be eliminated. Most people tend to consider that keeping pose is a primal requirement of yoga. Nevertheless, it is impossible to gain the benefit of yoga without carrying out right pranayama.

Pranayama can be divided into three steps. The first step is inhaling. This is an act of receiving energy from the universe. The second step is holding the breath. The energy is Makoto Kamimura revitalized in the body during this step. The third step is exhaling. All thoughts and emotions disappear. Expanding the intervals between each step is the practice of pranayama. Learning the control of breathing is equivalent to learning the control of mind which tend to be dominated by emotions. By alternately stimulating the sympathetic nerve and parasympathetic nerve, we are able to maintain the balance of our unbalanced mental. Human stimulates sympathetic nerve by inhaling and stimulate the parasympathetic nerve by exhaling. Our breathing is short and fast when we feel tense. This is because it makes us feel the stress and our sympathetic nerve gains superiority over the parasympathetic nerve.

On the other hand, we tend to breath long and slow when we are relaxed. Also, we breathe like this when we feel stressed. This is because we unconsciously let parasympathetic nerve gains superiority over the sympathetic nerve to calm down. Like these example, we are able to control our mind by controlling our breathing. This is deeply connected to our SOI “Controlled, purposeful movement can create a mind-body relationship” This is because we are able to control our physical condition via controlling our breathing with physical movements. For example, we can relive the tension of mind and muscles from stress by purposely moving slow and breath slow and deep. Because Hatha yoga does not require any intense physical movements, it is enjoyed by various people today. Also, beginners of yoga often start with Hatha yoga. Of course, Hatha yoga improves your physical and mental health. However, there are more benefits in carrying out Hatha yoga other than that. For example, it is officially certificated by world-wide researches that Hatha yoga lower people’s blood pressure. Therefore, today, many people who suffer from high blood pressure are carrying out Hatha yoga instead of medicine.

Also, Hatha yoga is effective for people who suffer from depression. This is because the original concept of Hatha yoga is to control the mind by controls the breath. Moreover, some researches state that the hatha yoga is effective for people suffering from lumbago because its case is often mental stress/depression. Furthermore, slow movements help to cure the damaged muscle. These kinds of people tend to carry out Hatha yoga to improve the quality of their lives.

Nowadays, Hatha yoga is very famous in western countries due to a large number of people who care about their health and it’s gradually getting famous in Asia too. Thus, people have access to carry out Hatha yoga almost everywhere in the world. We can learn the Hatha yoga in yoga studios with the professional instructor by acquiring the membership.

Works cited

  1. Gorakhnath. (n.d.). In Encyclopædia Britannica online. Retrieved May 19, 2023, from
  2. Mallinson, J. (2011). Hatha Yoga. In L. F. Hammer (Ed.), Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism (Vol. 3, pp. 637-647). Brill.
  3. Saraswati, S. S. (2003). Asana, Pranayama, Mudra, Bandha. Bihar School of Yoga.
  4. Singleton, M. (2010). Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice. Oxford University Press.
  5. Sjoman, N. E. (1999). The Yoga Tradition of the Mysore Palace. Abhinav Publications.
  6. Iyengar, B. K. S. (1979). Light on Yoga: The Bible of Modern Yoga. Schocken.
  7. Kraftsow, G. (1999). Yoga for Transformation: Ancient Teachings and Practices for Healing the Body, Mind, and Heart. Penguin.
  8. Desikachar, T. K. V. (1999). The Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice. Inner Traditions.
  9. Cramer, H., Krucoff, C., & Dobos, G. (2013). Adverse events associated with yoga: A systematic review of published case reports and case series. PLoS ONE, 8(10), e75515.
  10. Khalsa, S. B. S., & Cope, S. (Eds.). (2006). The principles and practice of yoga in health care. Handspring Publishing.

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