The traditional sequence of Hatha yoga, which concentrates on physical and mental well-being, began in India some 2,000 years ago. "Hatha" means "willful or forceful." This kind of yoga comprises a series of physical poses, called asanas, designed to cleanse the body and mind, as well as strengthen and build muscle, according to Yoga Journal. Performing Hatha yoga on a regular basis can enrich the mind, body and soul by opening channels of energy in the body, including the spine. The sequence begins with centering exercises that foster mental focus and an awareness of the present moment. Practicing a traditional Indian Hatha yoga sequence in a class or at home also can help you clear your mind before making tough decisions, or smooth nerves before an important business meeting.
Opening and Centering
A traditional Hatha practice begins with a centering exercise that cultivates an awareness of your place in time, right now. By bringing your attention to the present moment in the first sequence of traditional Indian Hatha yoga, you let go of worries, your "side" of the argument, or other pressing concerns. Centering your mind is the first of several steps in the sequence that helps you release stress — one of the biggest blocks to clear thinking. Some Hatha traditions use chanting and meditation to open the practice and center your attention.
Sync Your Breath
Breath awareness helps melt your stress too. All of the movements in Hatha yoga sync with the breath. Not only does breathing through specific poses center you, it also calms you.
Indian Hatha Yoga Poses
Traditional Hatha yoga begins with a standing pose, called a Sun Salutation, that opens the chest and stretches the upper body. Standing poses lead to forward bends, into floor poses such as Downward-Facing Dog, Equestrian and Cobra. The traditional Indian Hatha yoga practice stacks sequences that incorporate gentle backbends, arm balances, inversions and a cool-down that is gentle and meditative. If you’re new to yoga, Hatha’s concentration on centering the mind, body and soul to promote relaxation works well as a home practice or in a class.
Relaxing Cool Down
At the end of the sequence of poses, you further enhance relaxation and awareness of the present with asanas tailored to promote rest. The traditional last sequence is performed on the floor, called savasana or Corpse pose, as you lie down with your arm loosely by your sides. Here, you will not allow negativity or problem-solving strategies enter the mind. To fully benefit from traditional Indian Hatha yoga, empty your mind as you cool down, focus on your breathing and how awesome your body feels. If you are in a yoga class, tune in to your instructor’s voice. Many Hatha yoga classes end with a final blessing or guided meditation.
Tina Boyle has been writing since 2000. Trained as a journalist, she has traveled to over 150 US cities. She specializes in travel, culture, pets, business and social networking and regularly publishes in newspapers, magazines and on Web sites. She received a Bachelor of Arts in writing from the College of Santa Fe.