Traditionally, Hatha yoga (pronounced "ha-tuh") translates to "sun-moon." It is believed that each person harbors a "sun" energy channel and a "moon" energy channel. The sun channel is said to govern our thought processes, while the moon channel governs our emotions. The millions of chakras (literally translated from Sanskrit to mean "wheels" or energy centers) swirling around us keep the sun-moon channels in motion. On a deeper level, practitioners believe in a moral code based upon self-restraint, quietude, concentration, regulation of breathing, uniting body and mind through action, withdrawing from the senses and studying religious texts.
The first step is the practicing of the different asanas (poises) to help the mind and body align with one another and open the inner channels of communication. By finding the right posture, one can remain comfortable for long periods of time while meditating. Secondly, proper breathing techniques (sometimes referred to as "pranayama") are taught. Next, some students may choose to delve more deeply into the philosophical roots. Yoga instructor David Williams (from Hawaii) once noted, "Before you've practiced, the theory is useless. After you've practiced, the theory is obvious."
The end result of practicing this style of yoga is markedly noticed almost immediately. Suddenly you can stretch a bit further and touch those toes. You're not huffing and puffing carrying laundry up to the top floor of the house anymore. Your bowel movements are even more regular than usual and you find that stomach aches and head aches rarely occur these days. Your abdomen, legs and gluteus are looking more defined too. When you're at work and start to feel stressed, you take a deep breath and reconnect with the relaxation techniques you learned in class, although the anxiety rarely reaches you on a physical level anymore. Your energy levels are revitalized, your hormones are balanced and a calm sense of euphoria and appreciation for each day takes root in your soul. Life is good, thanks to Hatha yoga, a practice that goes back thousands of years to some infinite source of knowledge the West generally seemed to have overlooked.
For the curious, local Hatha yoga classes can be found at YogaFinder.com. Whether you want to set aside time for personal reflection or sculpt your muscles, a yoga class can add another layer of personal satisfaction to your life.
The world is a fantastic place filled with diversity and new discoveries at every turn. One of these discoveries for the Western world came in the form of Yoga. This ancient practice was known primarily in Eastern religions such as Buddhism or Hinduism but has since become a very popular form of exercise. It is more than that though. It is a process of centering the mind and body into one fluid machine that is highly aware of itself and surroundings. Yoga can be performed by anyone of any age and is great for those beginning their trek into a healthier lifestyle. If you are ready to begin your trek, click here for more information: Yoga Books and at Yoga Books also at Yoga Posture Techniques