Successfully executing a complex Hatha yoga pose can impress your friends and neighbors, but the benefits of a regular Hatha yoga practice include a much deeper "wow." Hatha yoga involves a series of postures, or asanas, intended to align your muscles, skin and bones. Its physical benefits can be the most immediate and obvious, but it's the mental and spiritual benefits that can transform your life.
Health and Fitness Benefits
One of the most immediate health benefits of practicing Hatha yoga poses is a feeling of calm; when you focus on your yoga practice, you may focus less on your worries or woes. Yoga can increase your flexibility, range of motion and strength as well as enhance your balance, leaving you with a higher fitness level and reduced risk of injuries.
Although practicing yoga poses doesn't burn as many calories as an intense activity such as running, you can still lose weight with a regular yoga practice. Yoga can be particularly helpful if you’re plagued by binge eating or using food as an emotional crutch by introducing a healthy lifestyle change that can affect all aspects of your life.
Hatha yoga poses can help heal or soothe a specific health ailment or condition. You can alleviate chronic neck pain with a series of poses that focus on gently stretching and elongating your spine. You can relieve sinusitis with poses that focus on inversion, forward bends and poses that calm your mind. Other poses can help alleviate anxiety, asthma, carpal tunnel syndrome, insomnia, sciatica and a host of other conditions. Still others may help with pregnancy, menstruation and infertility.
Practicing poses helps align your body, breath and mind, a connection that takes your attention away from the chaos of the outside world and into your inner being. With your attention focused inward, you can become more aware of the way you habitually think or react to situations, without judging if such thinking or reactions are necessarily good or bad -- they just are. Hatha yoga can help you recognize your behaviors and respond more effectively to your experiences.
Hatha yoga’s overall goal is to enhance your spiritual development, which it does by releasing the energy that flows throughout your body and balancing the opposite aspects of your being. According to yoga theory, everyone has masculine and feminine aspects to his being, referred to as the hot, active energy of the sun -- or “ha” -- and the cooling, receptive energy of the moon, or “tha.” Hatha, which literally translates to sun-moon, balances these two opposites while opening your body’s energy channels. The main channel is the spine, which holds the divine energy, or kundalini sakti, at its base. The object is to achieve balance so that energy streams freely through your body, ultimately facilitating a spiritual awakening.