Hatha Yoga – exercises, effects and more about the yoga style

Hatha Yoga – exercises, effects and more about the yoga style

Almost all people in Europe or America who regularly practice yoga practice some form of Hatha Yoga - often without knowing it exactly. You can find out what the term means and what to expect in a Hatha yoga class in this article.

What is Hatha Yoga?

Strictly speaking, Hatha Yoga is both a separate style of yoga and an umbrella term for all styles of yoga in which the focus is on physical exercises (asanas). It can therefore be said that most people in this country practice a type of Hatha Yoga, although often under a different name. Hatha Yoga is, so to speak, the basis from which many modern yoga styles such as Power Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga or Sivananda Yoga have developed.

The term is usually translated as a combination of “Ha” = sun and “Tha” = moon and thus stands for the connection and harmonization of opposing energies. The Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Yogi Swatmarama is one of the most important yoga writings and explains Hatha Yoga as a path to spiritual enlightenment.

Hatha for more enlightenment

What are the benefits of Hatha Yoga?

Originally, the postures were primarily intended to keep the body strong and healthy so that one could remain in the meditation posture for as long as possible. The ultimate goal of Hatha Yoga is to purify and calm the mind. For most people today, the greatest benefit of Hatha Yoga is the physical and mental balance it provides from long hours of daily desk work.

Here you can see at a glance what concrete effect Hatha Yoga can have on the health of your body and mind:

  • Improving strength and mobility
  • Increased body awareness
  • Physical and mental relaxation
  • Healthy cardiopulmonary system and improved oxygen supply
  • Promote concentration and balance
  • Improved sleep quality through stress reduction
  • Strengthening the immune and nervous systems
  • Relief from back pain and tension
  • Increased mobility and stability of the joints
  • Regulation of metabolism, digestive and hormonal systems
  • Development of patience, calmness and inner peace

Is there a difference between Hatha Yoga and classical yoga?

Basically, classical yoga places a greater focus on the mind and sees the body as an obstacle on the path to enlightenment. Hatha Yoga, on the other hand, was the first style of yoga to put the body and its health in the foreground, as without physical well-being it is difficult for the mind to find peace.

Professional or newbie - who are Hatha yoga exercises suitable for?

Hatha yoga exercises are generally suitable for everyone, but everyone should practice according to their individual requirements. Young and sporty people perform the exercises in a different way than seniors and people with physical complaints or limitations.

This form of yoga is particularly suitable for beginners because the exercises are carried out consciously and at a slow pace. This means there is enough time in every posture to concentrate on the perception of individual body parts and their interaction. You also have the opportunity to feel the effect for a few breaths after each exercise.

The big advantage of Hatha Yoga is that you don't need a lot of space or equipment to do the exercises. However, guidance from a teacher is very useful, especially at the beginning, in order to learn good alignment in the various postures. Once you have internalized the basics, you can easily practice independently at home.

Hatha Yoga: Exercises for your everyday yoga life

All important Hatha Yoga exercises can be modified so that you can easily do them even as a yoga beginner. The sun salutation is particularly suitable for warming up the body and preparing for more demanding postures. The tree, the warrior variations, the twist seat and the shoulder bridge are also great exercises to get started.

  • Sun salutation
    A sequence of several exercises performed in flow. These include mountain pose, standing forward bend, half forward bend, plank pose, cobra and downward dog.

  • Warrior 2
    Standing position with the front foot pointing forward and the back foot positioned across it. The front leg is bent and the back leg is straightened. The upper body is upright and the arms are stretched forward and back.

    Yoga exercises for more mobility

  • Shoulder bridge
    From the supine position, the pelvis is lifted with the legs bent while the feet, shoulders and head remain on the mat.

    Shoulder bridge

  • Downward-Facing Dog
    The body forms a triangle, with the pelvis being the highest point. Hands and feet push into the floor and the entire back of the body is stretched.

    Downward-Facing Dog

  • child
    Calming posture in which the upper body is bent forward from the heel position and rested on the thighs. The shins, arms and head rest on the mat.

    Yoga exercises for more mobility

  • Forward bend
    The upper body is bent forward from the pelvis to stretch the back of the legs.

    Forward bend

  • Swivel seat
    While sitting, the upper body is turned towards the raised leg while one hand is supported on the floor behind the back and the other hand grasps the raised leg.

    Swivel seat

Is there a flow in Hatha Yoga?

In a flow, various yoga exercises are combined into a flowing sequence. Every movement is linked to a breath. As a rule, there is little practice in flow in Hatha Yoga. Each posture is held for a few breaths. Then you feel the exercise before moving to the next position.

Which exercises can be easily combined with Hatha Yoga?

A classic flow exercise sequence is the sun salutation. Mountain pose, standing forward bend, half forward bend, plank pose, cobra and downward dog are combined into a flowing sequence.

Hatha yoga courses: what awaits you?

Are you now excited to start your first Hatha class? We'll give you some tips on what you should pay attention to before booking:

What do I have to pay attention to when booking a yoga (online) course?

Pay attention to the level classification and read the description to make sure that the course requirements match your previous yoga experience. Also find out what equipment (e.g. yoga blocks, yoga strap) you need.

Often courses are classified according to Level 1/2/3 or similar categories. However, who is considered a beginner or a professional or feels that way varies from person to person. If you are unsure which level is right for you, ask the studio or yoga teacher in advance

Do I need to prepare for this?

An open inner attitude and patience with yourself are very helpful in getting involved in the exercises and enjoying learning.

For those interested in history: The Hatha Yoga Pradipika

The Hatha Yoga Pradipika, which dates back to the 15th century. Written by Yogi Swatmarama, is one of the most important yoga writings. She describes Hatha Yoga as a method to achieve spiritual enlightenment. Physical exercises, breathing exercises (Pranayama), meditation and cleansing rituals are explained in it.

Hatha Yoga has its origins in various currents of Indian tradition and yoga philosophy such as the well-known yoga sutras according to Patanjali, the Upanishads, the Vedas and Tantrism. Hatha Yoga, with its various forms, is the most widespread yoga style in the West. It is equally suitable for beginners and advanced users and is a proven exercise method to bring body and mind into balance.