In Sanskrit, the word hatha literally means “willful” or “forceful”, which implies that the practice is all about forcing the body into various positions. When looking at the symbolic meaning of the word, however, we find that it means “sun and moon”. Thus, Hatha yoga in all its forms is about finding the balance of active male energy (sun) and passive female energy (moon).
Each pose in a hatha yoga practice contains elements of active, or willful, energy. You move your body into challenging poses, and then discipline your mind, breath, and body to relax into the poses.
In a Vinyasa (or flow) class, hatha yoga poses are connected with fluid movements that synchronize with the breath. This practice is sometimes called “meditation in motion” because the use of breath, movement, and periods of deep holding can release long held patterns of stress, imbalance and physical impurities. On a physical level, the body is strengthened and toned. The internal organs are cleansed and the joints, bones and soft tissues of the body are lubricated and repaired.
Energetically, the entire energy body is cleansed (nadi shudhi), resulting in a deep state of peace and tranquility.
As with any physical activity, it is essential that you talk to your doctor or health care provider about your yoga practice. In most cases they will enthusiastically support your doing Hatha flow yoga, but modifications may need to be observed for some conditions, and for other issues, a different form of yoga may be more appropriate.
Here in this body are the sacred rivers. Here are the sun and moon, as well as the pilgrimage places. I have not encountered another temple as blissful as my own body.
—Sahara, Indian Mystic
Hatha Yoga Books
30 Essential Yoga Poses – Judith Lasater
Hatha Yoga: The Hidden Language, Symbols, Secrets & Metaphors – Swami Sivananda Radha
Kripalu Yoga: A Guide to Practice On and Off the Mat – Richard Faulds
Light on Yoga – B. K. S. Iyengar
Yoga as Medicine: The Yogic Prescription for Health and Healing – Timothy McCall
Yoga Journal’s Yoga Basics: The Essential Beginner’s Guide to Yoga For a Lifetime of Health and Fitness – Mara Carrico