About Hatha Yoga

Hatha Yoga is a system of practices derived from the ancient teachings of Tantra. It encompasses a wide spectrum of physical and energetic practices such as ‘Asana’ (postures), ‘Shatkarma’ (cleansing techniques), and ‘Pranayama’ (expansion of the breath and vital energy), all aiming to cleanse and strengthen the being to make way for Self-Realization and hence liberation from suffering.

In Hatha Yoga we are harmonizing and balancing the energies of the body and of the mind so that we may come to Oneness. ‘Ha’ meaning ‘sun’ relates to the flow of vital energy and the in-breath, and ‘tha’ meaning ‘moon’ relates to the flow of consciousness and the out-breath. ‘Yoga’ can be translated as ‘union’ and so Hatha Yoga can be seen as the union of the body and mind.

The teachings of Hatha Yoga were said to be first given by the god Shiva to his beloved, Parvati, in response to her desire to understand this physical life and to know how to bring freedom from suffering. In the 9th Century the great yogi Matsyendranath together with his disciple, Gorakhnath, created the school of Hatha Yoga. They removed the rituals of the Tantric practices and concentrated on the physical and energetic practices.
Shiva Lord of Yoga
The first stages of Hatha Yoga are the purification and strengthening of the physical body through cleansing techniques and asanas. The next stage is the practice of pranayama which prepares the mind and the nervous system for meditation and the awakening of Kundalini Shakti (transcendental energy). The final stage is meditation leading to the complete liberation from the shackles of the individual ego.

Although progressive stages can be described, the practice of Hatha Yoga brings its benefits immediately even within one's first class. Yoga helps us experience more peace, joy and health in our daily lives. Self-realization may be considered the ‘goal-less goal’ of Hatha Yoga. Our society in this 21st century is one which encourages competition, striving and achieving. The yoga space provides a welcome break from this striving where each individual is recognised as perfect and there is nothing to acheive. If you can breathe then you can do yoga!