Discovering Hatha Yoga
Posted on 19/06/2023
Hear from our one of our Hatha Yoga teachers, Debs, as she lifts the lid on Hatha Yoga and shares her own journey.
In a world bustling with hectic schedules and stress-induced lifestyles, the quest for inner peace and physical well-being has become more important than ever. Amidst this quest, Hatha Yoga shines as a time-honored practice that integrates the body, mind, and spirit. This blog, from one of our wonderful Hatha teachers Debs, explains more about what Hatha Yoga is, its benefits, and what to expect from a Hatha Yoga class. She also shares her own journey with the practice.
Hatha Yoga is one of the oldest forms of Yoga, you could say ‘Hatha Yoga is the trunk and the other forms of yoga are the branches.’
The ancient practice of Hatha Yoga has been praised for its ability to positively affect your physical and mental wellbeing. The traditional practice originated in India over 2000 years ago, then students would dedicate their lives to the practice.
It is a gentle yoga, in which you search for an essence of movement from within, by coming into your poses (asanas) using breath to guide you, to bring balance between your mind, body and soul and to give you the support to find a deeper place, thus learning more about yourself and your capabilities. Guided meditation, learning different breathing techniques, hand gestures and relaxation are equally important in your Hatha Yoga Practice.
‘Hatha means: Ha = Sun Tha=Moon so within our practice we try and find the balance of the opposites.
The benefits of practicing Hatha Yoga are multi layered, as it’s a balance of the mind, body and soul working together with breath.
- We learn how the breath is the glue between our mind, body and soul, to move as one together, not as separate entities. This allows us to explore ourselves, to let go of all that no longer serves us, to let go of negative energy from within and to be in the present, what happened before your yoga practice does not matter… what will happen after your yoga practice does not matter.
- Hatha poses are held for longer than in most other forms of Yoga practices and by discovering how to use your breath in these poses, you learn to quiet the mind which allows you to find the deepness of the pose. Breath is also needed to provide the muscles with the oxygen they need.
- Breath oxygen in; breath out release of carbon dioxide: this slows the heart rate and can stable and/or lower blood pressure; it reduces cortisol hormone levels within (the stress hormone) and reduces feelings of anxiety, stress and panic as it activates the parasympathetic part of the brain to tell your mind and body that you are safe and not to resort to the fight/flight/freeze mode.
- Builds stamina and strength not just for the body (muscles, tendons, bone density) but for the mind too. Learning discipline and feeling of positivity which we can apply to our day-to-day life. Balance poses create a strong core but also improve our balance.
- Clears out clutter in the mind and tension in the body, allowing us to find clarity, perception, and focus. Dharana, the power of attention by focusing on one beautiful thing, will guide the mind to quiet – how many hours do we ‘waste’ worrying about something that may happen in the future, which often never happens, this is wasted negative energy which we work to lessen.
- Releases blocked energy within our upper body energy centres with poses, breath work and guided meditation. Blocked energy can make us feel a variety of negative feelings, from being sluggish, sad, uninterested, low, achey and much more. By releasing these blockages and allowing the energy centres (Chakras) to have free flowing energy it enables you to switch these feelings to energetic, happy vibes. Setting intentions with enthusiasm and releasing aches and pains. Equally holding on to our past can drain energy and prevent us moving forward. In class we allow ourselves to let go, heal and begin again.
In addition, Hatha Yoga can reduce levels of pain (physically and mentally); stimulates the lymphatic system; helps support correct posture (which can limit the risk of injury); improves digestive system and blood flow; and provides much needed meditation in today’s busy world.
Our classes start with a chat about our day, this allows for students to verbally let go of anything they need to in a safe space and gives me the ‘vibe’ of the class and how everyone is feeling.
We start with stillness, a focus on our breath without judgement or criticism, just observing. Then finding that rolling deepness of breath, to bring us into our yoga practice.
- To begin: We generally start with a gentle Hatha flow (flowing movements, one breath each) to warm our muscles/body in preparation for our deeper Hatha.
-In the centre: from our Hatha flow, we move into deeper Hatha poses (Asanas), with guidance on when and how to use your breath in all poses. These poses will not just stretch and opening areas of the body, but also work on strengthening our body, opening our energy centres.
- To finish: an integral part of our Hatha practice is the Meditation and Relaxation. The beauty about the Hatha practice is because it is slow, the transition into meditation and relaxation is seamless. Finding time to sit and to reflect, to affirm having let go of negative energy, to breathe deeply into our essence and come into this calm state of mind and body.
I discovered Yoga rather late in life, in fact I didn’t really discover general fitness till I was in my late thirties, when I joined David Lloyd and lost 4 stone in about 6 months. My personal trainer suggested I should train to become a personal trainer myself, which I did in 2008/2009, along with NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) , and then started teaching classes too. It totally changed my life at that time.
In 2012 I trained in Les Mills BodyBalance, a combination of Tai Chi, Yoga and Pilates, which I absolutely loved, especially the Yoga part, so I decided to become a Yoga Teacher and this, for me, was the best thing I ever did.
My main training was pure Hatha, and yes, I love going to and teaching other branches of Yoga, but my pure love is for anything Hatha: Hatha flow; pure Hatha; Forest Yoga (which in essence is slow strength Hatha).
I have so much passion for teaching this beautiful yoga, I love seeing the change in people, watching them grow and seeing their expectations of themselves change. Not being able to get people out of their relaxation because they have reached such a beautiful deep state is just so beautiful.
If you haven’t ever tried Yoga or Hatha Yoga, I promise you it will change everything for the better, it suits all levels as options are always given for all abilities during classes.