The path of Hatha Yoga is when the aspirant endeavours to reach Self-realization through the attainment of physical control, perfect health of the body and control of the breath.
To bring balance to the body – Ha: – Sun or physical side, balanced with – Tha: Moon or mental side.
Hatha Yoga practice consists of seven steps
Sat Kriyas – cleansing practices
Asanas – postures
Mudras and Bandhas – locks and seals through postures and gestures with the hands
Pratyahara – drawing the senses inward
Pranayama – breathing practices
Dhyana – meditation
Samadhi – Self-realization
Slowing and deepening the breath has been shown to have a profound effect on the heartbeat, and therefore mental attitudes and relaxation. It improves the elasticity of the lungs and maintains optimal oxygen/carbon dioxide balance in the body.
Pranayama (“prana”- life force/”yama”- regulation) utilises and directs the energy of the breath to aid healing, to revitalise and calm and gain mastery over the mind. This involves slowing the breath, breath retention and in its more advanced forms the bandhas to direct the prana in the body.
Types of Pranayama include
Nadi Sodhana – alternate nostril breathing
Bhramari – humming breath
Sitali – cooling breath
Sitkari – the hissing breath
Ujjayi breath – the psychic breath
Surya Bheda breath – Sun breath & Chandra Bheda – Moon breath