Hatha is the classical and traditional form of Yoga. The earliest records date back to India in the 11th Century. However, Hatha Yoga is about our innate life force and energy which has been with us since the first breath. Hatha Yoga is understanding of Individual and Universal Consciousness and the journey of each person arriving at a sense of Oneness with everything. Hatha Yoga is first and foremost a Spiritual Practice. Hatha Yoga has evolved over the centuries to branch into the many forms of Yoga that we enjoy today. All Yoga styles have evolved from Hatha Yoga.
The ancient Yogis studied the body and it functions through meditation, breathing, cleansing, moral discipline, and physical postures. They gained a scientific understanding that is relevant and accurate today.
One of the aims of Hatha Yoga aims is to increase and channel Prana (vital life force/energy). Prana is everything that supports, increases and creates life. The Breath is central to any practice of Yoga. In every moment we are alive we are breathing. The quality of the Breath varies depending on what we are doing, how we are feeling and thinking. The study and control of the Breath gives us insight into ourselves and connects us to our environment and to all other living beings.
Another of its aims is to control the mind through meditation and breath control. Hatha Yoga defines the way in which we think and all its variations and has devised methods and techniques to bring the mind into equilibrium.
The physical body has to be strong to Chanel Prana. And also to be able to sit for long periods of time in meditation. The Asana arose as a response to these needs. The combination of channelling Prana and the Mind through physical internal postural muscles called Bandhas is the base for the Asanas (postures) of Hatha Yoga
As you can imagine, it is challenging to bring the original aims of Hatha Yoga into our modern, Western Yoga class. It is easy for the essence of Yoga to get diluted down into just the postures. Many classes these days are based on the flowing sequence of postures called Vinyasa. In many Vinyasa classes, there is often the need for the individual to either already be fit, strong and flexible with no injuries or age-related health concerns. But in Hatha Yoga, all we need is the desire to be fit and healthy in body and mind and to have an open mind when we attend our first session. Once you have had an introduction to Hatha it is easier to attend any other style of Yoga.
Hatha Yoga can be practised by everyone regardless of sex, health, age, class, religion, philosophy or politics.