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Hatha Yoga is a branch of Yoga. Yoga is a term that means to yoke, create union or harmonize/integrate, and is much like a tree trunk. From its trunk it spouts various branches, which are paths toward one common goal; to know/harmonize or be in union with our true selves…or our higher self. No matter which branch you choose, the destination is the same.
Hatha Yoga, which is one branch of Yoga, combines asana (postures) pranayama and meditation. Hatha, originally part of the kriya or cleansing of the body soon was developed into the practice of the balancing the body. Hatha is comprised of two sound structures: Ha which means the SUN. It implies masculine energy, effort, and strength. Tha which means moon. It implies feminine energy, passivity, and surrender. In the practice of Hatha Yoga there is a certain amount of effort in a pose and there is a certain amount of letting go in a pose. Through the practice of “asana”, which means to hold a steady and joyful seat we begin to find balance. Teaching the students that the balance between the two is the underlying goal of hatha yoga. For when the body is balanced, the breath and mind are also moving toward balance.
Hatha Yoga also includes the practice pranayama. Prana means life force, and everything in the universe is made up of prana. It is the energy of the universe. Ayama means to control or expand. In the practice of pranayama, we learn to extend and expand the breath, allowing he prana to ride into and out of the body with fullness, balance and steadiness; like a surfer on a wave.
And finally, we practice meditation. Here the student explores the ability to balance or center the thoughts of the mind, and become the witness of our true and peaceful nature. This relaxed state allows the mind to quiet enough to experience ourselves.
The practice of Hatha is a combination of learning to balance body, breath and mind. It becomes a great tonic for perfect health. Swami Satchidananda says, “health is your birthright, but not disease. Strength is your heritage, but not weakness. Courage, but not fear. Bliss, but not sorrow. Peace, but not restlessness. Knowledge, but not ignorance.”
May the entire universe be filled with peace and joy, love and light. Jai!
~ Trace Bonner
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