Even though hatha yoga might not immediately ring a bell, chances are high you have experienced it before if you’re into yoga. Hatha yoga has been around for centuries but has increased in popularity the past decades. To give you an easy introduction to the world of hatha yoga, we have created a beginners guide where you will find everything you need to know about hatha yoga. Or at least, it should be enough to get you started!
What is hatha yoga?
The word ‘hatha’ means ‘force’ which makes hatha yoga ‘the yoga of force’. Hatha yoga is the type of yoga that typically comes to mind when you think about yoga. Hatha yoga involves breath, body and mind and is performed in classes by doing breathing exercises, yoga poses, and meditation. When booking a yoga class that is described as ‘hatha’, the class will typically involve a set of physical yoga poses and breathing exercises. With hatha yoga, these are practiced more slowly and with more static posture holds.
Benefits of hatha yoga
Hatha yoga can be practiced for many different reasons and has proven to be beneficial in many different areas. The benefits of hatha yoga include stress relief, healthy habit support, improvement of emotional health and reducing back and arthritis pain. Besides that, hatha yoga can also help you to sleep better, strengthen your core muscles and improve depression symptoms. Overall, that seems like quite a long list of benefits! Reason enough to get started and book your first hatha yoga class.
Hatha yoga poses
Speaking of hatha yoga classes, what can you expect from your first session? We’ll run you through a couple of popular hatha yoga poses to prepare you for your class. Let’s introduce you to our five favourite easy hatha yoga poses.
1. Mountain pose
This yoga might be the easiest to perform and even though it’s not a challenging pose, it will give your core muscles a good stretch. Simply stand straight, raise your hands above your head and press upward. Make sure your muscles are contracted to get a full body stretch.
2. Tree pose
A famous yoga pose! From the mountain pose, place one foot against your knee, moving the other knee outwards. This one takes a bit of balance, but try to find your center of gravity and hold the position. If you want to, you can place your hands against each other either in front of your chest or above your head.
3. Standing forward bend
From the tree pose, place your feet on the ground again and slowly move your upper body down while keeping your legs as straight as possible. You will feel this stretch in your hamstrings. If you cannot move all the way down during your first hatha yoga class, don’t worry, it takes patience and flexibility but you will get there eventually.
4. Downward dog
Still in the standing forward bend position, you’re going to move your hands forward, walking away from your feet. Push your hip up to create a triangular shape with your body. Try to keep your heels flat on the ground, but if that doesn’t work for you yet, you can relax one leg while placing the other foot flat on the ground and alternate sides. This way, you will still get the full stretch out of the downward dog pose.
5. Bridge pose
Last but not least in our top five hatha yoga poses, we’ll talk about the bridge pose. Lay down on your yoga mat, on your back, and place your feet as close to your bum as possible. Next, press your hips up from the ground and hold this pose. The bridge pose improves core and lower body strength in addition to lengthening the spine.