Hatha Yoga traditionally means any type of yoga that works physically (on the body ) to create more balance and harmony between the male and female, or sun and moon, ( more inner or cooling versus more outer and warming)aspects of each person. That said, some of the physical practices of modern day westernized yoga are more athletic and strenuous than classical hatha yoga. Yoga is meant to help the body build stability, alignment and help the student/practitioner create a calmer stronger way to live that importantly stems from building an inner experience of calmness and strength. At Sewall House Yoga Retreat, our morning yoga classes are based on hatha yoga, with attention to the age, level and needs of each individual student. With individual attention, the poses can be modified to be more or less easy or difficult. (beginner or intermediate level yoga).
WHAT TO EXPECT
Hatha yoga for beginners should be movements, called poses, that are accessible and doable for the individual. Also in this way each individual can address their particular body. Many people come to yoga quite tight and stiff. However, others might be more inherently flexible and need to take care not to overstretch. In either case, pushing the body beyond its limits of either flexibility or strength (as would be the case in the flexible person’s body) is not a part of a proper yoga practice. Past injuries or current health conditions need also be addressed to optimize the person’s yoga practice. At Sewall House, we recognize these differences because the hatha yoga beginner classes are small and personalized.
BENEFITS OF HATHA YOGA FOR BEGINNERS
Where might one learn hatha yoga for beginners? I have met people who have done quite well working out of books on yoga though having an experienced teacher who can teach you the basics is a good idea if you have access to that. At Sewall House Yoga Retreat, we bring years of study (since the 1970’s) and teaching to the hatha yoga beginner classes. We believe that yoga is a lifelong study and practice, bringing that mentality to the classes.
These days many yoga options are available online as well, However, if attempting to find gentle yoga, which hatha yoga is usually associated with, the student needs to make sure that is actually what they are finding online. One needs to be cautious to not find sources that move too quickly, which does not give the student the opportunity to learn the poses properly, nor taking the time to engage the muscles and bones in a way that strengthens and enhances the internal systems, especially the nervous system, which is meant to be the result of a proper yoga practice. Internal organ health is also said to be one of the results of practicing hatha yoga for beginners.
Yoga is by definition the union (or “yolking”) of the mind body and breath so it is important for beginners to understand this relationship. Though actual breathing practices, called pranayama, are considered advanced, the beginning hatha yoga student needs to know that yoga breathing is through the nose, both in and out slow and deep, with the inhale giving energy and the exhale causing release. The mind is focused on the practice, which helps the student learn to focus and concentrate.
Categories of poses that need to be included in a well- rounded yoga practice are forward and backward bending, twists, balancing poses and inversions. A good way to get much of this is through the sun salute surya namaskara, which greets the sun each day via specific movements flowing in the body. Relaxation at the end, called savasana or corpse pose, is necessary to integrate whatever you have done in your hatha yoga practice that day. Over time, one can progress in their ability and add more poses, or continue to improve in the current poses that one practices. At Sewall House Yoga Retreat, we like to offer the possibility of learning or improving your hatha yoga practice so that you can take it home with you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Hatha yoga simply means the physical branch of yoga, as opposed to meditation for example. At sewall house we meditate 30 minutes before our morning Hatha practice, though it can be done afterward. The most popular form of yoga in the west is vinyasa, a term which means to move on the breath.
Hatha yoga is often associated with advanced techniques.
The vinyasa practices tend to be more strong but there are simpler forms of Hatha like slow flow vinyasa (mostly what we offer at sewall house) and basics to teach how to do the yoga poses, asanas, properly. Fast yoga practice can be injurious if one does not know the poses or move with awareness.
Yes even a book can definitely help teach you.
Hatha yoga improves circulation, strengthen the nerves, helps internal organs and body systems function better. The breathing helps lung capacity and nerves, as well as digestion. There are many health claims and benefits from Hatha yoga, such as better sleep and digestion, the ability to handle stress better, and an overall feeling of wellness and mental clarity. Headaches and backaches often respond well to yoga.
How to get Hatha Yoga certified? There are many certification programs around the world for Hatha yoga, some in India, the home of yoga. Sewall house currently offers annual trainings. Check our events page for more.